Points to Ponder

Pinchas 5778


פינחס בן אלעזר...השיב את חמתי Pinchas ben Elazar returned my anger (25:10) – What was the result of Pinchas’s actions? Why was he so rewarded? After all, the sin continued until 24,000 people had died? Rav Nosson Tzvi Wachtfogel ztl. explains that Pinchas gets credit for making the start toward correcting the mistakes of the people around him. The Midrash credits Kalev as well – not because he was able to stop the Miraglim entirely but that he was able to start a change – and stay off the entire Jewish nation being destroyed.


כזבי בת נשיא מדין אחותםKozbi the daughter of the leader of Midyan their sister (25:18) – We normally identify people who descend from a nation as sons and daughters. Why is Kozbi identified as a sister? The Mechilta (Shemos 15:20) notes that she is called a sister because she gave her life for the nation. In that regard, she is similar to Shimon and Levi who are identified as the brothers of Dinah due to their commitment and risk of life for her. The Tolna Rebbe ztl. used this possuk as a proof text to teach a valuable lesson. Even as the Torah castigates her evil act of prostitution which led to the deaths of so many, Chazal were able to find her devotion to her people to be something of significance for which she deserved some respect. If Chazal could do so, we too, can find something positive to see in our fellow Jews.


ובני קורח לא מתוThe children of Korach didn’t die (26:11) – Why were the sons of Korach, who Rashi explains were involved from the beginning, able to do Teshuva and be saved and Korach was not? After all, doesn’t the Torah tell us that Korach also declared that Moshe Emes and Toraso emes? Rav Eliyahu Baruch Finkel ztl. explained that Korach only began his claim after he had died. They caught the last chance – when we grab the final minutes, when we jump the train, we can be saved.


ובאלה לא היה אישAnd from these there was no man who remained from the accounting of Moshe and Aharon in the desert since Hashem declared that they should die in the desert (26:63-65) – Rashi notes that the word Ish here is gender specific because the women were not subjected to the decree after the sin of the spies. They loved the land and desired to gain a portion in it. Kli Yakar goes so far as to suggest that Hashem would have rather sent the women as Miraglim than the men because they would have been more successful! Rav Moshe Tzvi Neriah ztl. picks up on the fact that both Moshe and Aharon’s accounting is stressed here in context. Why? Rav Neriah explains that there were three primary leaders of the Jewish people in the desert – Moshe, Aharon & Miriam. While Moshe and Aharon were not successful in getting the men excited to enter the land, Miriam seems to have been more successful. Why? Rav Neriah suggests that it was because Miriam danced and sang WITH the women. She didn’t merely teach and speak TO them, she interacted WITH them – sharing their ideas and elevating them in the process. From an educational perspective this can bring about more success. Still, Mrs. Sivan Rahav Meir cautions, together with this aspect of education, a leader needs to be able to raise the people – giving them something to strive for in their own lives. There needs to be a combination of both in Jewish education.


ותעמדנה לפני משה ולפני אלעזר הכהן ולפני הנשיאםThey stood before Moshe, Elazar and the Nesiim (27:2) – It is interesting that this is one of the 3 places where the word Nesiim is spelled without a yud. The other 2 involve a situation where the Nesiim brought the stones and when they brought their korbanos. In those instances the Nesiim lost the Yud for not responding entirely enthusiastically. Why the loss of the Yud here? Rav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita explains that although Bnos Tzlofchod stood before them, they were there for ceremonial purpose only. Clearly if Moshe and Aharon didn’t have an answer, they wouldn’t either. To show the limited nature of their role here, the yud is dropped.


ונתת מהודך עליוYou shall give from your glory to him (27:20) – Why do we assume that Gadol Shimusho Yoser M’Limudo? Rav Elyashiv ztl. suggested that when one learns from the Teacher’s actions, the person learns the Halacha correctly and can assess the proper path from among the other ones. Alternatively, it provides one with a means of not forgetting the proper Psak. However, more importantly, when one watches ho a good Rebbe observes the Halacha, one learns proper Yiras Shomayim.


עולת תמיד העשויה בהר סיניThe Tamid offering that was made at Har Sinai (28:6) – Where was the Korban Hatamid offered at Har Sinai? The Gemara (Chagigah 6a) debates as to whether the Korbanos offered at Har Sinai were the Korban HaTamid or a Korban Riya. Why do we connect the Korbanos to Har Sinai? Rav Schachter Shlita often reminded us that while creativity and originality are important expressions of one's tzelem Elokim , that is so when one is a talmid vasik and the chiddush is a chiddush amiti (a correct insight or idea). But if the chiddush is not "oisgehalten", then it's not actually a chiddush but rather a shinui which is not acceptable. This was the problem with Kayin’s original Chiddush of the Korban. Kayin thought that since Hashem doesn't really need the korban, and the whole idea of the offering is merely a symbolic act, it would be baal tashchis to bring choice fruits or vegetable, so he offered produce of inferior quality. Hevel, on the other hand, was not the original thinker in this case, and merely copied the good idea of Kayin (see Kli Yakar), but he improved upon it by bringing from the choicest sheep. The Torah tells us that Hevel's korban was accepted while Kayin's was not. The end of the story is very bitter, and its moral is that to be "oisgehalten" (correct and proper) is more important than to be original. The Korban Hatamid attains its special nature not simply because of its spirituality. It is spiritual BECAUSE it follows the commands of Har Sinai.


Haftorah – כי נער אנכיAlas Hashem…I am but a lad (Yirmiyahu 1:6 ) – Rav Yerucham Levovitz ztl. pointed out that there were many times in Jewish history when we lost opportunities to be great people because we said “I’m too _____ to be the one to stand up and say or do the right thing. Pinchas stood up and did the right thing even though the people challenged him and spoke behind his back. Hashem tells Yirmiyahu not to fall into thinking that is the opposite of this style. Standing by idle, allows destruction to continue.