Pinchas 5772 – Gilayon #757


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Parshat Pinchas

And the daughters of zelophehad son of hepher, son of gilead, son of machir, son of menashe … And they stood before moshe

and before eleazar the priest and before the

chieftains and all the community at the entrance of the tent of meeting,

saying: our father died in the wilderness … Why should our father's name be

withdrawn from the midst of his clan because he had no son? Give us a holding

in the midst of our father's brothers.

(Bemidbar

27:1-3)

 

And the daughters of Zelophehad came forward: In

that generation the women would repair that which the men had breached, for we

find Aharon telling them (Shemot 32) "Take off the golden

rings that are on the ears of your wives", but the women refused and

protested against their husbands, as is written "And all the people took

off the golden rings, etc.", and the women did not participate with them

in the incident of the calf, and also in the case of the spies who disparaged

the Land (Bemidbar 14)

"And the men […] who came back and set all the

community complaining against him", and against them who said "We

cannot go up" was the punishment decreed, but the women were not involved

in that mutiny for it is written above (ibid., 26:65)

"For the Lord had said of them, "They are doomed

to die in the wilderness, and no man was left of them save Caleb son of Jephunneh and Yoshua son of

Nun." Note – "no man" and not "no woman".

The women approached to request a portion in the Land. This is the reason this parasha appears in proximity to the death sentence of the

desert generation, for it was there that the men breached and the women

repaired.

(Bemidbar Rabba, 21)

 

There (Bemidbar Rabba 21:10) we read

"And the daughters of Zelophehad came

close" (Bemidbar

27:1) In that generation the women repaired etc.

[The midrash] comes to

explain 'And they came close'. It would have sufficed to say "and

the daughters of Zelophehad spoke" but it

says "they came close". The intention of the Torah was to say

that the women brought close that which the men had distanced, meaning Eretz Yisrael that the men had

distanced, but the women loved it and came close. (Sefer

Agra D'callah, p. 285a)

…This aggadic

quote tells of what transpired in the distant past, but it is probable that

this situation repeats itself throughout the generations, and we see how, in

many instances, the men do damage and the women repair.

(Y. Leibowitz: Seven Years of Discussions of the Weekly Parasha, p. 731)

 

 

Pinchas and hope for a covenant of

peace

Hanoch ben Pazi

Blessings of peace and joy

 To our daughter Gayil

Ayala

 Upon her becoming a Bat Mitzvah

To

discuss the subject of peace in Parashat Pinchas is

no small challenge. After all, this parasha begins

with words of praise for Pinchas ben Elazar for his act of zealotry and continues with Moshe

being ordered to wage war against the Midianites:

"Be foes to the Midianites and strike

them". From here onwards, Pinchas will serve as the central model of

zealotry for zealots of all future generations. Here he receives an omen, a

blessing from the Holy One, of "a covenant of perpetual priesthood".

The surprise awaiting the Torah reader is the gift granted Pinchas for his act

of zealotry, "a covenant of peace". Can this be considered a new/old

kind of "medal of valor" awarded warriors for acts of daring? Should

this be the case, we must conclude that the omen of the covenant given

"from the Almighty's mouth" is not intended as an incentive to

further acts of bravery, but, on the contrary as an assurance and blessing for

their avoidance in the future.

Is

there some method to attain and realize the covenant of peace? The coming parashiyot obligate us to think about this, to forgo

naïveté, and to consider the various justifications for war: war on

behalf of the nation, war for the land, or war of the Lord. The coming parashiyot also lead us to reflect upon the questions of

whether it is at all possible to return from war whole and well? Are there ways

to avoid the next war? And if not, can we avoid the war following the next war?

After

the First World War, many asked, are wars inevitable? Must "the sword

devour forever?" Is it decreed that that humanity must live history and

processes of progress only as points of passage from one war to the next?

Thinkers and artists pondered the sources of war and militancy, and the

possibility of annulling them. Perhaps one of the more renowned was Franz Rosenzweig, who wrote his book "Star of

Redemption" while serving on the Balkan front during the War. Rozenzweig, who opens with the words "from death, from

the fear of death", expresses sharp criticism of those peoples and nations

who define their self-identity with a covenant of death which they make with

the land.

Ten

years later, Albert Einstein sends a public letter to Sigmund Freud, in which

he asks: "Is there a way to free Man from the misfortune of war?" At

first glance the answer would seem to be simple and obvious; we know how to

establish authorities and institutions for arbitration and judgment in cases of

conflict, and we are capable of setting up international judicial bodies as an

alternative to war. Can we succeed, however, in achieving the wisdom necessary

to direct the development of men so that they develop immunity to psychoses of

hate? Freud's long and learned answer was quick in coming: "Perusal of

human history records an unending series of conflicts." The attempt to

overcome the many small wars led to bigger wars with growing degrees of

destruction. It seems that after all the doubts and hesitations there will be

no other alternative than to be aware of a new category of drives, drives of

death and destruction. "There is, as you can see, a theoretical

sublimation of that contrast, known from antiquity, between love and hate, a

contrast which may have a kind of primordial tie to the polarity of the power

of attraction and the power of repulsion, that which plays a role in your

field." Did Freud consider the proximity of Parashat

Balak to Parashat Pinchas

when he wrote about the connection and contrast between the two drives that

ultimately lead to wars? Can this be considered a psychological exegesis to

"covenant of peace" awarded as a reaction to an act of zealotry?

In

similar fashion, Yeshayahu Leibowitz,

quoting the English historian, Edward Gibbon, said that "History is little

more than the register of the crimes, follies, and misfortunes of mankind".

But, added Leibowitz, even though what Gibbon wrote

was true, he did not write all the truth, become history

is also "the register of human struggle against the crimes, against

the follies and against the misfortunes of mankind". The follies

and the militant drives "have their basis in the natural world and in

human nature; therefore the struggle against them demands a tremendous attempt

by Man – both the individual and the collective – to overcome this nature; in

other words – this is a struggle of man with himself."

(Leibowitz, Emuna,

Historiya V'arachim, P.

165).

May we

suggest another horizon of thought, political/messianic, which finds expression

in the famous words of HaRav Kook, also written

during that World War: "We left the politics of the world out of coercion

which contained inner desire" (HaRav Kook, Oroth, p.14).

The Jewish people left human history because that history which we knew

functioned as a history of war and blood, as a record of corruption and evil.

Therefore, we set aside our hope for another era, for when we could return to

history as a nation. "It is not worthy of Yaakov to be involved with

government as long as its hands must be bloody, as long as it requires the

talent of evil." In this vein, Rav Zvi Tau explained these thoughts with the claim that the

predisposition of Israel

is not to war, but rather the conduct of a long and continuing struggle against

the very possibility of war. Most of the wars in the world are the result of

"bad character traits, maladies and rancor which have accumulated among

people. The predilection for war and war itself facilitate expression of their

dark drives towards "much blood and great cruelty". In this human

picture, the Jewish nation has a historic and crucial task: "We wage a

protracted and difficult war against war itself, against the impurity and the

malevolence which debases humanity, forcing it to hold the sword and shed

blood. Our war comes to purify the world and to liberate it

from the necessity of war" (Rav Tau, Ozer Yisrael Bigevura, 4:13).

Perhaps it was in this spirit that the Rav

HaNazir cried out his emotional claim that "You

shall not kill" includes mass murder, for war is but "murder of man en

mass". He wished to address all: "To the nations, to the masses

and their representatives, through essays, through books, to arouse the

movement for peace, with total opposition to mass killing, to war. And also to the leaders of the nations, the ministers and advisers

in the legislatures, to legislate "You shall not kill" …to ban war,

not to wage war.

(Harav David HaCohen, Meillat Milchama V'shalom).

The

greatest problem, however, is how to accomplish this? In theological terms, how

can the Jewish people free itself from the need for war? And how can Israel

teach humanity this "Torah of Peace"? And we who study this parasha, strongly influenced by the history of the 20th

century, the establishment of the State of Israel, its wars and acts of

zealotry it met – we ask ourselves again, is it possible? How is it possible?

The

reading of Parashat Pinchas carries us back to one of

the most fascinating options which arose following the First World War, the

attempt at "shock treatment". For example, Ernest Freidrich

published a picture album named "War Against

War!" The album contains approximately 180 photographs taken during the

War, preserved in military and medical archives. The pictures were intended to

serve as shock therapy, in which the journey traveled by the reader takes him

through sights of devastation and degradation, images of destroyed towers and

erased villages, ending with the military cemeteries. Needless to say, the

volume was condemned by different governments and social organizations. It was

hoped that the deep shock which the War produced would make it the last war,

"the war to end all wars". Yes, we graduates of the 20th

century know that this is not at all what happened.

Parashat

Pinchas asks – as it were – Parashat Balak: How could it happen that the most wonderful

blessings Israel

had received turned into the terrible nadir of its desert experience? Is it

possible to investigate Pinchas's real intention? The

central issue of Pinchas' act was the act of zealotry. The subject for

discussion in Parashat Pinchas is the hope of "a

mitzvah observed by way of a transgression". Could this possibly have been

a hope accompanying the heroic act of zealotry–the hope that a single act of

extremism, an overt, clear and shocking act, would be enough to change human

culture? The parasha, however, teaches us that this

act was followed by the 'final' war, and this final war was followed by another

final war, and that an act of zealotry alone cannot announce the approach of

the geulathe Great Redemp-tion. By identifying Pinchas with Eliyahu, Chazal revealed that the

one-time action may sometime turn into a repetitive action — perhaps until Eliyahu arrives and answers this question

too. That which was intended to be a heroic one-time act

remains as a wound, perhaps even an open wound. Pinchas' zealotry will

continue, as a command to Moshe to attack the Midianites,

and only then, to joint his forefathers. The war which began in this parasha will strike with maximum power in the coming parashiyot, and will confront the Jewish people with

questions about war and about the results of war.

Approximately

a year before the outbreak of the Second World War, Virginia Woolf wrote her

novel "Three Guineas" and asked, is it possible to prevent wars. The

book begins with an answer to a letter which she received from a very respectable

English barrister. She clarifies that a deep gap separates them on the question

of war, because he is a man and she is a woman. Men have a

certain affection for war because they find glory and fulfillment in

war. And most of the women, she claims, do not share these feelings.

We

propose to close with this thought, that perhaps this is also the explanation

for the placement of the daughters of Zelaphehad case

in this parasha. Thus this parasha

also includes the alternative option – the female option– which begins with

hesitant steps. Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah,

Milkah and Tirza, daughters

of Zelphehad, dare to challenge the "taken for

granted", to question the 'natural' order, which is (surprise!) the male

order. They raise the possibility to turn anew to the Holy One, Blessed Be He,

and request tikkunrepair, perhaps

even tikkun olam

– repair of the world.

Dr. Chanoch

ben Pazi teaches in Bar Ilan U.

and in the Kibbutz Seminar.

 

 

Zealotry Is A Complex Matter,

and the Zealot Needs God's Blessing for Protection

It is written, "And

Pinchas, son of El'azar, son of Aharon

the priest, saw…"

What did he see? He saw the act

and recalled the halacha:

"He who cohabits with an Aramean, zealots strike

them." A Baraita elaborates:

"Not in keeping with the wishes of the Sages, Pinchas acted not in

accordance with the will of the Sages." Rabbi Yuda

ben Pazi said: They wanted

to excommunicate him,

but the Holy Spirit descended upon him, declaring: "He and his descendents

after him shall have a covenant of everlasting priesthood."

 (Yerushalmi,

Sanhedrin 9:7)

 

Since this must be done in true

spirit for the glory of God, who, then, can know whether the zealot has no

ulterior motive, saying that

he acts in a spirit of zealousness for God; subsequently he kills one who is –

according to the law – not actually deserving of death.

(Rabbi Boruch

Epstein, "Torah Temima")

 

God of the spirits – Why

was this said? He said before Him, 'Master of the Universe, it is open and

known to you the nature of every person, and they all different one from the

other. Appoint upon them a leader who will be patient with each according to

his nature.

(Rashi, Bemidbar 27:16)

 

The Lord said to Moshe,

"Take you Yehoshua ben

Nun, a man who has spirit within him, and lay your

hand upon him" (Bemidbar

27:18)

A man who has spirit within him

– Just as you requested, one who will be able

Who will go out before them –

Not like the kings of the nations who sit at home and send their soldiers to

war, but as I did – I fought against Sihon and Og, as is written (Bemidbar

21:34) "Do not fear him". And as Yehoshua did, as is written "And Yehoshua

approached him and said to him are you for us etc." And so is it written

about David (I

Shmuel 18:16) "For he

went out and returned before them, leading as they go out – leading as they

return".

(Rashi 27:17)

 

Leadership that is encompassing,

moral, and guiding,

"Let the Lord, Source of

the breath of all flesh, appoint someone over the community who

shall go out before them and come in before them, and who shall take them out

and bring them in, so the Lord's community may not be like sheep that have no

shepherd." (Bemidbar 27)

"Who shall go out before

them"  Not

like the kings of the nations who sit in their palaces and send their soldiers

to war, but as I did when I fought against Sichon and

Og, as is written (Bemidbar 21:34), "Fear

him not". And

as did Yehoshua, as is written (Yehoshua 5:13), "And

Yehoshua went up to him and said, 'Are

you one of us or one of our enemies"? And

similarly with David (I Samuel 18:17), "For

he marched at their head"  at

their head when going out, at their head when returning…

"And bring them"  An

alternative explanation: "And bring them" Do

not to him as you did to me, for I will not bring them into the land.

(Rashi, Bemidbar 27:17)

 

The one lamb you are to

sacrifice in the morning,and

the second lamb you are to sacrifice between the setting times.

(Bemidbar

28:2-4)

 

The Sacrifices – Slaughtering

"Sacred Cows" Within the Framework of the Struggle against Idol

Worship

The ancient Egyptians worshiped

the constellation Aries (ram). Therefore they forbade the slaughter of sheep

and despised shepherds… there were also groups from among the Tzabia who worshiped the demons, and believed that they

bore the figure of goats, therefore they called the

demons seirim

 hairy

goats. This belief was very widespread in the times of our teacher, Moshe:

"They may slaughter no longer their slaughter-offerings to the hairy goat

demons after whom they go whoring." Therefore

these cults also forbade the consumption of goats. Almost all of the idol

worshippers despised the slaughter of cattle. They all greatly honored that

species. Therefore you find that, even until this day, the Hindus do not

slaughter cattle at all, even in a land where other animals are slaughtered.

In order to eradicate the traces

of these erroneous ideas, we were commanded to offer davka three

kinds of domestic animals: "From the herd and from the

flock you may bring your near-offering", so

that through that very act which they [the idolaters] considered to be the

epitome of sin, they (Children of Israel) will come close to God, and with this

act will their sins be atoned for. Thus will the evil ideas be cured – these

ideas being diseases of the human soul – by means of doing the opposite.

(Rambam, Guide

For The Perplexed III, 46)

 

"Then the offerings of

Yehuda and Yerushalayim shall be pleasing to the

Lord"

…In the future, an abundance

of knowledge will spread and will penetrate even animals. "They will not

do evil nor will they destroy on the mount of My

holiness, because the earth will be full with knowledge of the Lord" and

that offering which will then be the mincha offering

– from the vegetable – shall be pleasant to the Lord as in the days of yore.

 (Rabbi Avraham

Yitzchak HaCohen Kook, Olat

R'iyah p. 282)

 

Yoel Yosef Fine, z"l

On the fourteenth anniversary of Yoel's

death

we will meet for

an evening of study in his memory

on Tuesday the 27th of

Tammuz 5772 (17.7.12) at 19:45

Mincha

service at 19:25.

The lecture in his memory will be delivered by

 Gilla Rosen

on the topic:

Tikkun Olam in Jewish Thought –

Ma'ariv will follow

the lecture.

 

Miriam, Jonathan, Devorah, Naomi,

and Ephraim Fine

The evening will take place in the synagogue of Kehillat Yedidya

12 Rechov Lipschitz

(at the end of Rehov Gad, in the Baka

neighborhood), Jerusalem.

 

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