Parshas PInchas / Tehillim / Jewish Home/ Shabbos Kodesh 5778

Note: We have renamed the category of Shalom Bayis and it is now called the Jewish Home, and it will contain articles relating to all aspects of the Jewish home, including harmony in the home, education, etc. In addition, we have added a section on Torah learning which will include, bez”H, its merits, its benefits and guidelines on how to learn and grow spiritually through learning. If we see something especially interesting we may surprise you with it even if it is not included in one of our listed topics.

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“To Stir the Mind and to Light up the Shabbos and the Holidays”

Parshas Pinchas


The Jewish Home
Torah Learning

Parshas Pinchas

The Difference between Pinchas and His Progeny

“לכן אמור הנני נותן לו את בריתי שלום” (במדבר כה:יב)

“Therefore, say behold I am giving to him My covenant of peace” (Bamidbar 25:12)

What is the meaning of “My covenant of peace”?

In answer we can suggest, from the fact that here the posuk states “לכן אמור” and regarding the priestly blessing the posuk similarly states “אמור להם” (Bamidbar 6:23) and from the fact that here it states “בריתי שלום” and there (6:26) it states as well “וישם לך שלום”, that the covenant mentioned here is the covenant of the priestly blessing. The expression “בריתי” / “My covenant” also hints to the priestly blessing for the priestly blessing is most beloved to Hakadosh Baruch Hu for through it He unites the lower world with the upper world and for this reason He calls it “My” blessing for this is the purpose of Creation!

However you will surely ask, does not the Torah immediately mention an additional blessing given to Pinchas in reward for the very same action and calls it “ברית כהונת עולם” / “a covenant of everlasting priesthood“. If so, why does the Torah precede an additional blessing where we need to deduce that its referring to the priestly blessing while we are told it directly!?

We can suggest, with G-d’s help, that the second blessing “והיתה לו ולזרעו אחריו ברית כהונת עולם” / “And it shall be to him and to his seed after him a covenant of everlasting priesthood”, equates Pinchas with his seed, while the first blessing was said specifically to Pinchas, as it states “הנני נותן לו” / “behold I am giving to him“. Possibly, this is the reason why according to tradition the letter vav of the word “שלום” is written with a slash through its lower section, to teach us that this covenant is imperfect as only Pinchas and not his seed merited it.

From the above we learn that Pinchas’ progeny were only compared to Pinchas in that they all merited to serve as the priests of the Jewish people. However Pinchas himself who acted with incredible devotion in the service of Hashem was uplifted and exalted by Hashem until he was rewarded – not as all the other righteous where they are raised to a slightly higher level – but he was uplifted to a completely different level, and became as one of the close servants of Hashem – as the heavenly angels – until he himself reached the status of an angel and was included in the blessing “ונתתי לך מהלכים בין העומדים” / “and I will give you ways among the standing” (Zechariah 3:7) and Rashi explains “the standing” are referring to heavenly angels.

Tammuz 5777

Pinchas Brought out and Corrected the Sparks of Holiness that were Imbedded and Trapped in Eisav

“הנני נותן לו את בריתי שלום” (במדבר כה:יב)

“Behold I am giving to him My covenant of Peace” (Bamidbar 25:12)

According to our tradition, the leg of the letter vav of the word “שלום” is sliced in two. What is this unusual form of the letter coming to teach us?

Now, the slicing of the leg of the vav hints to us that word should be read as “שָלֵם” and not as “שלוֹם” as the slice changes the form of the letter to a yud. This alteration connects Pinchas to Yaakov Avinu as we find by Yaakov as well it is written (after he overcame the administering angel of Esav) “ויבא יעקב שָלֵם עיר שכם” / “and Yaakov came complete/whole to the city of Shechem” (Bereishis 33:18).

Now, besides for the similarity in wording, why would I think to compare Pinchas to Yaakov?

The reason is that just as Yaakov mustered up all his physical and spiritual strength to battle the administering angel of Eisav and through this reached a supreme purity and wholeness, so too Pinchas reached a supreme level of purity and wholeness after sacrificing his life in order to battle against the wicked actions of one of the princes of the tribe of Shimon in order to put an end to the terrible disgrace of Hashem’s name it was causing. Additionally, by Yaakov the posuk states “ויותר יעקב לבדו” / “And Yaakov remained alone” (ibid. 33:25) and by Pinchas it says “ויקם מתוך העדה” / “and he stood up from amongst the congregation” (Bamidbar 25:7). That is, he stood up “alone” against the prince of Shimon, similar to that which Yaakov stood “alone” to battle the angel.

We find an additional comparison between them in that Yaakov was called the “pillar of Torah” and we find that Pinchas as well through his heroic deed reached the status of “pillar of Torah”. We learn this from the episode where after Zimri the prince of Shimon took the lady of Midian into his tent in front of Moshe and the people, the people all cried. Why did they cry? Because Moshe forgot the ruling that when one takes a non-Jewish woman into his home, the zealous are permitted to attack him and to kill him without a judicial ruling (Rashi).

When the people saw that Moshe, their great and trusted leader, had forgotten the ruling, they broke down and cried! The posuk then states “וירא פינחס” / “And Pinchas saw”, meaning he saw the defiant act of Zimri and remembered the ruling that Moshe had forgotten. Moshe then told him that the one who remembered shall be the one to carry out the ruling. Immediately, Pinchas “took the spear in his hand”, etc. Thus we learn that Pinchas temporarily took the place of Moshe who is also called “the pillar of Torah” as is called Yaakov and thus we learn that Pinchas rose to the level of Yaakov and thus there is reason to compare them.

According to the above, we can understand that which Yaakov said when he blessed the tribe of Shimon”בסודם אל תבא נפשי… כי “באפם הרגו איש וברצונם עקרו שור” / “my soul shall not connect to their secret… in their anger they killed a person and willingly they uprooted an ox” (Bereishis 49:5). Meaning, Yaakov separated himself from the tribe of Shimon, for if had not done so and the spirit of Yaakov had dwelled in the tents of Shimon, then Pinchas would not have been able to overcome Zimri. “כי באפם הרגו איש” / “in their anger they killed a man” – refers to Zimri whom the posuk calls a “man” saying “ויבא אחר איש ישראל” / “and he went after the man of Israel” (Bamidbar 25:8). And”וברצונם עקרו שור” / “they willingly uprooted an ox” alludes to Yosef regarding whom it is  written “בנות צעדה עלי שור” / “and the girls walked to see (Yosef)” (Bereishis 49:22) who was the “pillar of holiness” in Israel as he was as strong as an “ox” in standing up against the lewdness of the wife of Poti Phera. Zimri through his actions attempted to uproot the pillar of holiness in Israel and Pinchas stood up against him and stopped him – returning the holiness to the people.

Now, it appears that the great and heroic act on the part of Pinchas was necessary in order to unleash the sparks of holiness hidden in the recesses of the heart of Eisav.

In support of the above supposition, we find that Yitzchok put forth great effort to strengthen Eisav’s connection to Torah and spirituality as it says”ויאהב יצחק את עשו כי ציד הפיו” / “And Yitzchok loved Eisav for he had trappings in his mouth” (Bereishis 25:28). What “trappings” is the posuk referring to?

We can explain, with G-d’s help, that even though Yitzchok saw the faulty deeds of his son Eisav, he also saw that “in his mouth”, meaning in the depths of his soul, were “trapped” sparks of holiness. (For this reason the head of Eisav is buried in the burial grounds of the forefathers.) Also, the very fact that Rivka gave birth to Eisav and that Yaakov shared space in the womb with Eisav tells us there must have been some kedusha in Eisav.

Alluding to the above, we find that the word פינח”ס has the same numerical value as יצח”ק (208) hinting to us that Pinchas’ actions stemmed from those of Yitzchok and thus he was concerned with overcoming the dark fortress surrounding the sparks of kedusha that lay in the recesses of Eisav’s being, Yitzchok’s son. Actually, Pinchas followed as well in the footsteps of Yaakov who usurped the birthright and the blessings from Eisav because he saw that he was not worthy of them and that he would have misused them and brought chaos and destruction to the world!

Possibly because of this he was named פינחס / Pinchas, which means that he had “mercy” on the spirituality hidden inside Eisav and fought to release it in order to return it to the bedrock of spirituality.

We find another allusion to Pinchas’ connection to Yitzchok in that the first letters of the words “ויקח רמח בידו” / “and he took a spear in his hand” are the letters  ור”ב / vav, reish, beis, which have the numerical value of 208 – the numerical value of Yitzchok as mentioned above.

With this we can explain the reason for the slice in the letter vav which changes the reading from שלוֹם / peace to שָלֵם / whole, for through his actions he removed the sparks of kedusha which had fallen from Rivka into her son Eisav and with this he completed the sanctification of all of the sparks of kedusha which emanated from Rivka. Also, the slice in the vav alludes to the fact that Pinchas had to slice the steel wall of impurity which surrounded and encompassed the sparks of holiness in Eisav in order to reach them and reveal them and return them to their holy source.

Tammuz 5778

The Role and Responsibility of a Leader of the Jewish People

“יפקוד ה’ אלקי הרוחות לכל בשר איש על העדה” (במדבר כז:טז)

“May Hashem, the G-d of the different ways of people, appoint a leader over the congregation” (Bamidbar 27:16)

The wording is quite confusing, for if Moshe requested a leader for “לכל בשר” / “over all flesh”, why did he mention “Hashem, the G-d of people of different spirits/approaches to life!”!? Additionally, what did he add by requesting that he be “a man over the congregation”?

We can attempt to answer the above questions with the help of the commentaries of Rashi and the Sefas Emes. Rashi explains the expression “אלקי הרוחות” saying that Moshe asked for a leader who would able to relate to and guide the myriad of human approaches to each and every issue. At the same time he needs to be able to stand up against each and every individual when necessary. The Sefas Emes (Parshas Vayeiraתרנ”ט ד”ה במדרש “ומבשרי” “) adds that man’s main purpose is to purify his body as the posuk states “ומבשרי אחזה אלקי” / “and from my flesh and body I will see my G-d” (Iyov 19:26). And so we find that our forefathers purified their bodies until they became the chariot through which Hashem shines His Countenance upon the Jewish people in this world.

We learn from the above that Moshe requested a leader who could deal with the personality and mannerisms of each and every individual with the aim of helping them sanctify and purify their bodily actions.
In addition, Moshe asked that the leader should be an “איש על העדה” / “a man over the congregation”. That is, in addition to the ability to work effectively with each individual, he must know how to join all those unique individuals together until they act as one united people in the service of Hashem. He stressed that he should be a “man”, meaning a prominent person, for only he would be able to accomplish the above.

Tammuz 5776

The Jewish Home

A Woman’s Primary Role: To ensure that the Light of Torah Continues to Shine throughout the Generations

“ולא ילבש גבר שמלת אשה” (דברים כב:ה)

“and a man shall not wear women’s apparel”
(Devorim 22:5)

Rashi explains that the posuk is teaching us, besides for the simple meaning of the words, that a man should not beautify himself through the removal of hair in usually concealed parts of the body. From here we learn that a woman is allowed to beautify her body whereas a man is not! What is the underlying difference between the two?

We can suggest as follows: The Gemora in Brachos (17a) teaches us that the primary channel through which a woman merits to reach the next world – the world of ultimate reward – is the channel she herself digs through taking her children to learn Torah and letting her husband go to learn Torah, even if he feels it is better for him to go to another city to learn.

From here we learn that a woman’s primary role in life is the furtherance of Torah learning amongst the members of her family. And, that this is the vehicle which merits her to the great reward of the future upper world.

Now, the sages are not referring here to simple woman or to the average woman alone, but to intelligent and independently successful woman as well. And so, when the Torah praises Miriam, who was the most royal, intelligent, spiritual and able woman known to mankind, it praises her action to wait devotedly for her younger brother Moshe who had just been locked in a closed container and placed in the waters of the Nile in order to avert the evil decree of Pharaoh to kill all male babies.

Why did Miriam risk her life in order to keep an eye on Moshe? Besides for the emotion-charged concern of a devoted sister, the sages tell us that when Moshe was born the whole house filled up with a powerful spiritual light. Miriam understood from this that her brother Moshe would eventually fill up the whole world with the light of the Torah! [The wording of the posuk describing Miriam’s waiting for Moshe alludes to the above as it states”ותתצב אחותו מרחוק לדעה מה יעשה לו” / “And his sister stood from afar to know (see) what would happen to him” (Shemos 2:4). Now, the word “ותתצב” is similar to the word used to describe how the Jewish people “stood” in front of Sinai as they readied themselves to receive the Torah, the word “מרחוק” is similar to the word used to describe the point where Avraham Avinu connected with Hashem’s holy Presence on Mt. Moriah in Jerusalem, the word “לדעה” alludes to the revelation of Hashem and His Torah to the Jewish people on Mt. Sinai as it states “אתה הראת לדעת כי ה’ הוא האלקים אין עוד מלבדו” / “You showed us to know that Hashem is Elokim and that there is no other (god) except for Him” (Devorim 4:35) and the words “יעשה לו” reminds us of the declaration of the children of Israel at Mt. Sinai where they said נעשה והשמע” / “we will do and we will understand” (Shemos 24:7).] Because of this, Miriam put all personal considerations aside and kept an eagle’s eye on Moshe doing her part to secure his survival – allowing for the spreading of Torah to the whole world!

This is the praise the Torah chose to offer Miriam for all Jewish eyes to see for eternity. And this, in order that Miriam should serve as an example for all women , even the most intelligent and talented among them, that their primary role in life is to see that the light of Torah is ignited in her home as part of the chain of Torah learning and fulfillment from generation to generation.

Tammuz 5776

Torah Learning

Reaching the Root of the Topic

The Medrash (Shemos Rabbah 25:12) says regarding the mitzvah of Shabbos as follows: Hakadosh Baruch Hu said to the Jewish people, if you merit to keep the laws of Shabbos, I will consider it as though you kept all of the mitzvos of the Torah. If you desecrate the laws of Shabbos, I will consider it as though you have desecrated all of the laws of the Torah. This is as the posuk states”שומר שבת מחללו ושומר ידו מעשות כל רע” / “one who keeps Shabbos from desecrating it, and he guards himself from doing all sin”. It appears that the reason for this is that Shabbos is the source of all creation.  And so, anything within the creation is affected by the source of creation!

From here we can learn how to approach each topic of Torah learning. That is, in order to get a clear and a “healthy” understanding of the topic one needs to reach an understanding of the root of the topic. If so, since all the particulars extend from the root understanding, when one reaches a true understanding of the root of the topic, according to the above Medrash it will be considered as though he understands all the particulars of the topic as well!

This is similar to that which Hillel (Shabbos 31a) responded to the non-Jew who approached him asking him to convert and teach him the whole Torah while he stands on one foot. Hillel responded with an all-inclusive statement – that which is hated by you, don’t do to your neighbor. This is the whole Torah. The rest is its explanation. Go learn it!

The lesson is as above, that although it is incumbent upon a person to learn all the particular laws and reasons of each topic, he should put his initial effort into reaching a full understanding of the root and basis of the topic and with time and effort he will understand all the particulars of the topic as well.

This is similar to the words of our sages who say (Tana dBei Eliyahu Rabbah 25) that a person must continually ask when will my deeds reach the level of the deeds of my forefathers, Avraham, Yitzchok and Yaakov? The Sefas Emes asks rhetorically, is it possible for us to reach their level!? He answers, of course not! However we are still obligated to strive to emulate their ways. And regarding our topic, we learn that one needs to connect himself with the source of the topic even if he cannot understand of all its particulars and with time he will be get closer and closer to a full understanding of the topic! And even now it will be considered as though he has a full understanding of the topic!

Tammuz 5778

Have a nice Shabbos!
Shabbat Shalom!
Yona Vogel

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