Points to Ponder

Pinchas 5777

Brought me back from my anger (25:11) – The Talmud (Avoda Zara 4a) notes that there are competing Gemaras about whether Hashem get angry or does not. The Gemara notes that it depends whether he is responding to the Jews (whom he does not get angry at) or the nations of the world. If that is the case, how could Hashem argued that Pinchas returned Him from anger? Rav Yosef Kanfo ztl. of Morocco answered that when the Jews reject Hashem then they do not get the protection from Hashem’s anger. However, when they remain devoted to Him, he is slow to anger with them.

Annihilate the Midyanim (25:17) – Why is the command to destroy Midyan so strong and immediate. It sounds almost worse than that of Amalek? Rav Haim Sabato Shlita answers that we learn that Gadol HaMachteeyo Yoser Min HaHorgo. The one who tries to kill only damages the body but the one who causes to sin, destroys both body and soul. The intended damage is more explicit and requires sharper response.

To Chanoch the family of Chanoch, to Pauul the family of Pauul (26:5) – Why did the Torah need to explain that families were called by their family name? Rav Aharon Leib Steinman Shlita answers that within the Jewish camp there were certainly families that had died out and those whose members had become so small that they needed to be included with others while other families that were so large that the grandchildren needed their own portion (like Menashe where the great-grandchildren were separated) It was Hashem’s plan to determine which family merited what. Therefore, he instructed them accordingly to show that the population expansions were all Min HaShomayim.

The children of Binyamin (26:38) – How did Binyamin manage to name his children after Yosef – knowing that he was alive? Didn’t this violate the Cheirem instituted by the brothers (Tanchuma VaYeishev)? Rav Elyashiv ztl. answered that the Cheirem was only to those who revealed it to Yaakov. But Binyamin never explained the reasoning behind his names to his father.

May Hashem select an Ish upon the Tzibbur (27:16) -  Rashi notes that Moshe thought perhaps that his son should fill in for him. Why? We know that Yehoshua was the one who did shimush by Moshe Rabbeinu but where were Gershom and Eliezer on the leadership schedule? Rav Schachter Shlita suggested that a parent often misunderstands and misappropriates his son’s greatness. He then quoted Rav Menachem Schrader who noted that Moshe spoke to the Din Melech within him. He thought this aspect should go to the sons. Hashem told him not so that he was only Melech because of his Gadlus and thus, the Gadol Hador would also be its next Melech.

And you shall place from your glory upon him (27:20) – The Talmud (Bava Basra 75a) notes that it is a terrible embarrassment to Yehoshua that he needed Moshe’s countenance. The Chofetz Chaim once asked why? He explained that it is the embarrassment to the Zekanim who uttered the embarrassing phrase themselves. It was not Yehoshua’s superior intellect that had gotten him the right to lead. Rather, it was the fact that he observed and served Moshe that made a difference. They too, could have achieved greatness but they didn’t and he did. That was embarrassing to realize.

13 bulls (29:13) – When it comes to Sukkos, Bnei Yisrael 13 cows were brought on the first day and the number went down with each successive day. Rashi explains that this is the case with a guest too – proper etiquette would have each day’s meal a little less than that of the day prior. Why is that the proper way to go? Rav Wolbe ztl. explains that each day he is brought closer to feel like he is a part of the family. The idea of making one feel comfortable and at ease is fundamental to proper Mitzva execution.

Haftorah: Hashem spoke to me and asked what do you see Yirmiyahu and I answered that I see a staff that is giving off almonds (Yirmiyahu 1:11) – Rashi notes that an almond tree takes 21 days to go from budding until the final growth of the almond. This parallels the period of time of Bein HaMetzarim. The Apter Rebbe noted that in the Parsha we read of the Korbanos of all of the Yamim Tovim specifically at the point of the beginning of the three weeks. Why? He explains that the 3 weeks are the source of all of the Yamim Tovim which also total 3 weeks. Rav Schlessinger Shlita explains how: Zechariah reminds us that in the end the fast days will be turned into days of joy. This is so because the Torah studied and observed in the times of difficulty are the bedrock to be able to build upon (Torah She’Lamadtee B’Af He She’Amda Lee”). Therefore, these times are the best rally times for the Jewish people.