by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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OROH V'SIMCHOH - MESHECH CHOCHMOH ON PARSHAS PINCHOS - BS"D
1) The N'tzi"v answers in the name of Rabbi Yitzchok of Volozhin with a parable. A king sent a very highly placed war officer with many men to combat. In the heat of the combat the enemy started overpowering the king's men. Things looked bleak and to turn the situation around required some very immediate and novel strategy. However, the commanding officer was at a loss to come up with any tactic. An officer of the lowest rank ran to the commanding officer and suggested a most brilliant manoeuvre. The commanding officer immediately put this plan into action and the situation took a sudden turn for the better, with the king's men overpowering their adversaries.
Upon returning victorious from the battlefield, the king was faced with a dilemma. Should he openly disgrace the commanding officer who would have lost the battle if he had been left to his own strategy, or should he not do so since in fact the battle ended sucessfully? Should he only reward the underling who so brilliantly saved the day? If so, this would leave the commanding officer unreprimanded. He decided on a plan that would accomplish both ends. He awarded the underling with a citation, but had it presented by the commanding officer. Thus recognition was given to the person who deserved it and the commanding officer was indirectly reprimanded, as he should have normally received the accolade, and instead he personally presented the citation to another.
So too, Moshe, the leader of the bnei Yisroel, had the opportunity to be the one to act zealously to protect Hashem's honour. Hoever, he did not act and Pinchos did. Hashem therefore told Moshe to verbally present the reward to Pinchos.
2) The MESHECH CHOCHMOH answers that had Hashem told Pinchos directly, even though the message would have been prophetic, it would have been a message that Pinchos was not told to pass on to the bnei Yisroel. A prophecy of this sort is open to being rescinded if the recipient later becomes undeserving, as we find that yaakov feared that through his sinning he might not merit the blessings Hashem promised him (gemara Brochos 4a). However, a positive prophecy given to one prophet to tell another person, once it is verbalised to the other person cannot be retracted, as per the Rambam in his preface to his commentary on the mishnoh. This is why Hashem said to Moshe "lochein EMOR."
3) Possibly, there might be another reason for involving Moshe. The first appointing of a Kohein was done by Hashem. Hashem originally planned it for Moshe and subsequent generations, but Moshe lost this opportunity when he stubbornly refused to be the agent to facilitate the exodus from Egypt (Shmos 4:14). Although Moshe lost permanent K'hunoh for himself and for his successive generations, nonetheless, he had the status of Kohein Godol during the eight days of the dedication of the Mishkon. As explained in the Droshos hoRa"n drush #8, Moshe was the conduit for prophecy that spilled over to the 70 elders in parshas B'haalos'cho (11:17). So too, he had to be the one to relate to Pinchos that he and all his future generations were now elevated to the status of K'hunoh, serving as the conduit of this heavenly downpour of sanctity.
Ch. 26, v. 62: "Shloshoh v'esrim elef kol zochor miben chodesh KI lo hospokdu b'soch bnei Yisroel Ki lo nitan lohem nachaloh b'soch bnei Yisroel" - Rashi explains the first KI as because they were counted from the age of a month they were not included in the general census, and the second KI as the reason they were not counted from the age of twenty years as all others were, because they weren't given a portion of land in Eretz Yisroel.
Many explanations are given for the relatively small number of people in the tribe of Levi. The MESHECH CHOCHMOH says that this was an act of kindness by Hashem so that there would not be a large population of people who would over-burden the rest of the bnei Yisroel for support. The bnei Levi had almost no land for agriculture and were given 42-48 cities for their homes. They subsisted on the tithings given them by others. He says that this can be interpreted as the intention of our verse. The first KI is explained the same way as Rashi says. The second KI explains why they only had a census of 23,000 people; because they were not given an inheritance of land among the bnei Yisroel.
The Kli Yokor on Bmidbar 3:39 contemplates this explanation offered by the MESHECH CHOCHMOH, but discards it, saying, "There is no restraint to Hashem's ability to protect and provide for his servants (the tribe of Levi) who fulfill his will." The Kli Yokor also mentions some other explanations, explains his difficulties with them, and ends with his own answer. The Shaarei Aharon on Bmidbar 3:39 has a very comprehensive list of answers.
Ch. 27, v. 3: "V'hu lo hoyoh" - And he was not part of Korach's congregation. A simple explanation for the necessity of the daughters of Tzelofchod to mention this is that the Talmud says in B.B. 118b that the congregation of Korach gets no inheritance in the land, and if Tzelofchod was part of their group, his daughters would not have any claim of inheritance. However, see Ibn Ezra and Ramban.
The MESHECH CHOCHMOH answers that according to the opinion that Moshe had the halacha of a king, Korach's group rebelled against the king. One who rebels against the king loses his property to the king instead of having it go to his children, thus necessitating this preface to their inheritance claim. See the Gan Roveh for a few more interpretations.
Ch. 28, v. 5: "Vaasiris ho'eifoh so'les l'minchoh" - Regarding the meal offering that accompanies the lamb that is brought as an "oloh" sacrifice along with the "omer" first grain the Torah says that its volume is "u'minchoso shnei esronim so'les" (Vayikroh 23:13). This is double the normal volume of flour brought as an accompaniment to a lamb offering. The Toras Kohanim 10:7 says that this is an exception, "yotzoh min haklal." The MESHECH CHOCHMOH says that the intention of the Toras Kohanim is not to point out that the volume is an exception (perhaps because this is obvious, as we find no other variation anywhere in the Torah to 1/10th an "eifoh" for a lamb, 2/10ths for a ram, and 3/10ths for an ox), but rather the "exception" is the order in which the words appear in the verse. We always find that fine-flour, "so'les," is mentioned first, and then the volume, as in parshas Shlach "so'les isorone" (Bmidbar 15:4). However, by the flour offering of the "omer" lamb we have an exception, "Vaasiris ho'eifoh so'les l'minchoh," with the amount mentioned before the word "so'les."
This statement is quite puzzling. Although we find by all the "m'nochos" in parshas Shlach that "so'les" precedes the volume, in our verse as well as in verses 9 and 12 we find the volume preceding the word so'les."
Ch. 28, v. 10: "Olas Shabbos b'Shabbato" - The Oloh offering on its Shabbos - Why do we bring Chatos offerings on all Yomim Tovim and on Shabbos only Oloh offerings? The MESHECH CHOCHMOH answers that Oloh offerings afford atonement for sins in the realm of thought, while Chatos offerings bring atonements for sins of action (Vayikra Rabboh 7:3). Since on Shabbos we refrain from doing the 39 prohibited acts and all their sub-acts, it is very unlikely for one to sin with action. However, it is permitted to think about such actions (gemara Shabbos 150a), and sinning in the realm of thought is a great possibility. Therefore Oloh offerings are brought. On Yom Tov the acts related to food preperation are permitted and there is a greater likelihood that one might sin through action. Therefore Chatos offerings are brought to atone for sins of action.
Ch. 28, v. 15: "U's'ir izim echod l'chatos laShem" - Although by the sacrifices of Shovuos in our parsha there is no mention of the word "chatos" as is pointed out in the gemara Yerushalmi Rosh Hashonoh 4:8 and the M.R. on Shir Hashirim, "Rabbi M'sharshioh says in the name of Rabbi Idi, 'Why is the word CHATOS not mentioned by the sacrifices of Shovuos, although it is mentioned by the sacrifices of every other holiday? This teaches us that Hashem says that one who fully accepts upon himself the yoke of Torah is considered as if he had never sinned in his lifetime,'" but there is the mention of CHATOS by the sacrifices of Shovuos in parshas Emor 23:19, "Va'asi'sem s'ir izim echod L'CHATOS."
The MESHECH CHOCHMOH says that there is a special reason that the word CHATOS is appropriate in relation to the accompaniment to the "shtei ha'lechem." We have the unusual expression of "l'chatos laShem" by the mussof sacrifice of Rosh Chodesh in our verse. The gemara Chulin 60b says that there is an allusion to an atonement for Hashem through the Rosh Chodesh offering because when the moon renews itself, it is a reminder that Hashem diminished the size of the moon. It was once equal in size to the sun.
The MESHECH CHOCHMOH explains that the atonement is not for the diminishing. That was justified, as explained in the above-mentioned gemara. It is needed because had the sun and moon remained equal in size, then those who might have had a propensity to take on the sun as a deity would have been discouraged by seeing that the sun had an equal, the moon. Now that the sun is larger, there is more latitude for making this mistake and Hashem is partly responsible, thus necessitating an atonement, kavyochol.
Similarly at the time of bringing of the new crop of wheat which is the main staple of life for humans, there is also a fear of people over-attributing powers to the sun which brought about the growth and maturing of wheat and all other vegetables and fruits. Therefore it is again in place to mention the word CHATOS. However, we see from this insight of the MESHECH CHOCHMOH that it is only in relation to the "shtei ha'lechem" and not to the holiday.
Ch. 29, v. 12: "Uvachamishoh ossor yom lachodesh hashvii mikro kodesh" - And on the fifteenth day of the seventh month there shall be a festival - By the earlier festivals of Pesach (28:17), Shovuos (28:26), Rosh Hashonoh (29:1), and Yom Kippur (29:7), the Torah tells us mitzvos that are unique to each of the festivals. However, here by Sukos the Torah does not mention its mitzvoh of residing in a Sukoh. The MESHECH CHOCHMOH explains that Shulchan Oruch O.Ch. 640:8 states that those who travel are exempt from residing in a Sukoh. Our parsha deals with bringing festival sacrifices in the Beis Hamikdosh. At that time the majority of the bnei Yisroel are away from home, having made one of the thrice annually pilgrimages, and are thus exempt from residing in a Sukoh. This is why the Torah leaves it out here. In parshas Emor where the Torah does not deal with the festival sacrifices it does mention the mitzvoh of residing in a Sukoh. It seems that the MESHECH CHOCHMOH has not explained why the mitzvoh of taking the four species has been left out.
Ch. 29, v. 24: "Minchosom" - Their meal offering - This is the only place in the seven days of Sukos where the meal offering is expressed as "minchosom" without the connecting Vov that we find on the other six days. As well, we have "minchosom" without the Vov on Shmini Atzerres. The MESHECH CHOCHMOH explains this based on the gemara M'nochos 73b, which states that a non-Jew can bring a meal offering only when it accompanies an animal sacrifice. A ben Yisroel can bring a meal offering on its own. Since the gemara Sukos 55b says that the 70 oxen offered during Sukos are for the benefit of the non-Jews the Torah likewise alludes to this by placing the Vov of joining with the word "minchosom," turning it into "uminchosom," to stress that it only comes WITH the animal sacrifice.
However, on the fourth day of Sukos, when ten oxen are brought it is in essence for the benefit of the bnei Yisroel as well. The well-being of 10 countries are the 10 that the bnei Yisroel own, 7 already, those that comprised Eretz Yisroel, and the lands of Keini, Knizi, and Kadmoni, a.k.a. Amon, Moav, and Edom, when Moshiach will come. This likewise explains why "minchosom" appears without a Vov on Shmini Atzerres (verse 37), as the offerings of that day are uniquely for the relationship between Hashem and the bnei Yisroel, as per the gemara Sukoh 55b.
The Gan Ro'veh offers that every day the number of oxen is reduced, starting with 13 the first day. The amount of meal offering is directly in proportion with the number of animals. Thus every day the amount of "m'nochos" is dependent upon the reduction of oxen, thus the connecting Vov to the oxen previously mentioned. However, specifically on day four, where even if we would have the oxen increase from the first day, starting with 7 (which is in fact not the case, as we begin with 13 and always decrease by one), we would still have 10 oxen on the fourth day. Thus the number of oxen, and in turn, the amount of meal offering is independent of decreasing, since if the number were to daily increase we would have the same amount, so there is no need for a connecting Vov.
Rabbi Shmuel haLevi Wosner zt"l offers that since the 70 oxen represent the 70 nations, who stem from Eisov and Yishmo'eil, 35 each, the first 3 days have 13, 12, and 11 oxen, and 35 of these 36 are for Yishmo'eil, and are therefore connected. On the fourth day we begin offering for the benefit of Eisov so there is no connecting Vov. On further days there is a continuum for Eisov so we have the Vov again.
There seem to be two minor problems with this. First, we do have one ox for Eisov on the third day, and second, why is this point connected to the "minchoh" accompanying the oxen rather than somehow being pointed out by the oxen themselves.
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