Pinchas 5773 – Gilayon #805
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And the daughters of zelophehad[…] Came forward
And they stood before moshe
and before eleazar the priest […]
"our father died in the
wilderness, and he was not part of the community that banded together agaist the lord with the community of korah,
For through his own offense he died, and he had no
Why should our father's name be withdrawn from the
midst of his clan
Because he had no son?"
us a holding in the midst of our father's brothers" – Said R. Natan: The
power of women is superior to the power of men. The men said (Numbers 14) 'Let us put up a head and return
but women said 'Give us a holding in the midst of our father's brothers'.
(Sifri, Pinechas Section 1)
the daughters of Tselophehad came forward" – When the daughters of
Tselophehad heard that the land was being apportioned to males and not to
females, they all gathered together for deliberation. They said: Not like
the mercies of flesh and blood are the mercies of the Omnipresent; flesh
and blood are more merciful to the males than to the females, but He who spoke
and the world came into being is not so, but both upon males and females,
His mercies are upon all, as is written" God is good to all, and His
mercies upon all his creations" (Psalm
(Sifri Balak, Section 133)
"Rightly do the daughters of Tselophahad speak" – As
per Onkylos's translation 'correctly'.
thus is it written before me up above, this is to
teach that they saw what Moshe's eye did not see. "Rightly do the
daughters of Tselophahad speak", their plea was just; happy is the
person whose words are accepted by the Holy One.
(Rashi, Numbers 27:7)
Jermiah was as great a man
And castigator of
is usually read after the 17th of Tammuz and its haphtarah is taken from
the first chapter of Jeremiah with its trenchant prediction of
discern an inner connection between the parasha, in which Moshe ordains Joshua
and passes on to him, in orderly fashion, the leadership (Numbers 27:15-23), and the beginning of the
Book of Jeremiah which describes Jeremiah's appointment as prophet.
Rabbi Avraham Saba (
1508) was a major exegete in the generation of the expulsion from
himself was forced to flee in 1492, resettling in
were forced to convert before his eyes. He succeeded in escaping to
After some months of physical and psychological malady, he recuperated and
reconstructed from memory his compositions left behind in
greatest of his works was "Tsror HaMor" [Bundle of Myrrh], an encompassing
commentary on the Bible, which was later published many times. Bezalel
Vechalder produced his improved edition over twenty years ago (Bnei Berak,
When dealing with Pinechas, R. Saba quotes the midrash
"Four were descended from scorned families: Pinehas and Jeremiah and
Ezekiel and Uriah" and he adds "And here we can speak about Shabbat "The
Words" [of Jeremiah] and about the destruction of the
about his greatness." R. Sava surveys briefly Jeremiah's prophecies of
destruction, weaving into the prophet's forewarnings material from midrashic
literature. But he does not make do only with the direct connection to the parasha's haphtarah; he also presents a detailed and
interesting comparison of Jeremiah with Moshe. R. Sava first cites shared aspects
and then points out dissimilarities. Inasmuch as "Tsror
Hamor" is not easily accessible, I present
here R. Saba's words in full, deciphering abbreviations and adding – between
square parentheses – words of clarification:
And since Jeremiah was as great a person and castigator as Moshe o"h [olov hashalom – peace upon him], who said "These are
the words" (Deuteronomy 1:1), they
said that Scripture alluded to him when saying "From the midst of your brothers,
like you" (Ibid 18:18). And so he
said "a prophet like me for your midst" (ibid,
ibid., 15, and therefore He said "Before I
created you in the womb" (Jeremiah 1:5), and
said "He touched my mouth and said to me: Herewith, I put my words into
your mouth' (ibid ibid., 9). This is that
which is written "A prophet I shall raise up for them and I shall put My words in his mouth" (Deuteronomy
18:18) – and this is "like you". And should you say: But is it
not written "But no prophet again rose in
are the words" (Deut.1:1), so did
Jeremiah say "The words of Jeremiah" (Jeremiah
1:1). And just as Moshe prophesied to Israel forty years, so did
Jeremiah admonish Israel for forty years, until his words were to Israel as
thorns, and concerning him it is written "If you do not dispossess the
inhabitants of the land from before you, it will come about that those of them
you leave will become stings in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they
will be foes to you" (Numbers 43:35). This
refers to the prophet Jeremiah, who was descended from Rahav, whom Joshua spared.
And he reprimanded Israel in his book, and he composed the Book of Lamentations[Eicha] in four books, which are four alphabets (the first four chapters,
alphabetically arranged], and a short book [Chapter 5, shorter than the first four),
which is "Remember, O Lord" (Eicha 5:1),
paralleling the book of "These are the words" which presents the
story of the revealer, just as "These are the words" which is the story
of the first books. He began with "Alas! Lonely sits the city" (ibid 1:1), and I have already explained this
at length [the explication was lost]. But the alphabetically ordered "I am
the man" (ibid. 3:1) is intended to
say that even though he resembled Moshe, the similarity was limited to
misfortune. And this is "I am the man who has known affliction under the
rod of His wrath" (ibid.) and but
not by the rod of the Lord; "Me He drove on" (ibid.,
ibid, 2), whereas concerning Moshe it is written "And the Lord was
going before them by day" (Exodus 13:21). And
throughout this alphabetically arranged are allusions to Jeremiah's
tribulations, and to
scorn of him because he castigated them, and because he came from a scorned
family, as they were wont to say about Pinehas. And therefore Scripture relates
his lineage Pinehas, son of Elazar, etc.
What does this comparison offer? There is similarity of principle genre
– reproof; there is similarity in prophetic ability – "as myself"/as
yourselves"; there is identical duration of function – 40 years; both left
behind a written legacy containing five units divided into two: the first four
more sophisticated and substantial than the fifth, which is a personal
narrative framework for the four preceding chapters. Alongside the similarities
can be seen the differences. Jeremiah's prowess equaled that of Moshe only in
his admonishment, i.e., in the power of his prophecies of doom. Moshe had
something more, which R. Saba does not specify. I conjecture that he is
referring to the positive vision which Moshe set forth and also to his being
the quintessential national leader. Jeremiah was an oppositional figure,
critical of the leadership. This is reason, according to R. Saba, why Moshe
merited the Lord walking before him, whereas Jeremiah merited only divine 'tailwind',
but not God's leading him.
This comparison offers a variegated range of variables which can be of
use in evaluating prophets and comparing them one to the other. It is clear
that there exists considerable similarity between external and internal
measures for gauging the functioning of Moshe and Jeremiah. At the same time,
the dissimilarities are palpable. Which is the dominant? What is the
determining factor? R. Saba did not relate to these questions and, needless to
say, did not express his attitude towards them. If the subject interests the
reader, he is invited to express his views and to crystallize his position
In any case it is clear that the comparison between Moshe and Jeremiah
is not the result of any constraints – be they linguistic, literary,
historic, exegetical or ideological – it is a conscious choice by R. Saba. Through
it we detect both apparent and hidden links between the two figures, clarifying
the parameters of comparison between them, and, most important, it assists in
underlining the main moral underlying the basis of every comparison: one must
not be blinded by great similarity, just as one should not be led astray by blatant
differences; similarity and differences are an essential component of every
comparison. Evaluation and fine-tuning are the responsibility of the observer,
the reader, the thinker.
R. Saba presented his readers with an interesting and fruitful database
for consideration of Jeremiah's uniqueness and the tie between the parasha of "Pinehas" and its haphtarah, and the connection
between Moshe and Jeremiah. The quoted selection is only one jewel among the
many hidden in the "Tsror HaMor" commentary of R. Avraham Sava – "he
who was twice-exiled."
Prof. Nahem Ilan teaches in the M.A. program in Jewish studies and in the B.A. program for Eretz Yisrael and
Pinehas, son of elazar, son of aaron the priest, has turned back
my wrath from the israelites by displaying among them
his passion for me, so that i did not wipe out the israelite people in my passion. Say, therefore, i will grant him my pact of peace.
of Peace – Reward or Safeguard Against Psychological
As reward for
pacifying God's wrath and anger, He blessed him with the quality of
peacefulness, i.e., that he not be strict or upset. This was necessary because
the act committed by Pinehas, of killing
someone, naturally leaves a strong emotional impression, but since it was
performed for the sake of Heaven, he received the blessing that he always be
calm and peaceful, and that this matter [of having killed] should not affect
(Haamek Davar 25:12)
The act of
killing a human being in the name of religious zeal can make a person
indifferent to killing. That is why Pinehas required
a special blessing from God, so that his zealous deed performed for the sake of
Heaven would not change him into a wicked person. The boundary between shedding
blood for the sake of Heaven and blood-shed for the satisfaction of human
drives can become blurred… Both Pinehas and
Eliyahu were motivated by devotion to God, and
not by of the hatred of sinners. A person who is zealous for God because he
hates sinners does not genuinely serve God; rather he is motivated by his
drives and urges and a quest for self-satisfaction. There is no service of God
in that – rather it is a case of self-deception.
(Y. Leibowitz: Sheva Shanim Shel Sihot al Parashat Ha-Shavua, pg. 730)
the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up with Korah –
when that band died, when the fire consumed the two hundred and fifty men – and
they became an example.
voice of your brother's blood: Soil which has soaked up innocent blood does
vengeance against its sons
And Rav Yehudah the son of
Rabbi Hiyya said: From the day the earth
opened its mouth to receive Abel's blood, it had not opened again, for it is
said: From the end of the earth we hear singing: Glory
to the righteous! (Yeshayahu 24:16), and not from the
mouth of the earth.
brother Hezkiah questioned him: [What about
the verse] whereupon the earth opened its mouth?
He told him:
It opened for evil, but it did not open for good.
Let the Lord, God of the spirits
for all flesh, appoint a man over the community, who will go out before them
and come in before them.
Among the personality traits
deemed proper for
leaders, Moshe includes: "appoint a man over the community, who will go
out before them and come in before them". The Midrash
elaborates: "who will go out before them" – who will not do as
others do, that he not take out tens of thousands and bring back a thousand,
take out thousands and bring back hundreds".
is referring to those national leaders who guard their own lives far from the
field of battle, but do not hesitate to send their legions to war despite the
heavy losses – "talking out thousands and bringing back hundreds."
It is the duty of the leader to
be "a man …who will go out before them" accounting for all his
troops, doing everything necessary to avoid as much as possible loss and
adds a beautiful parable: "What did Moshe resemble? A faithful shepherd
ordered by his master "Leave my sheep". He replied: I will not leave
until you tell me whom you are appointing in my place!"
Leibowitz: Seven Years of Discussions on the Weekly Parasha, p,. 734)
When a king of
flesh and blood goes to war against his enemies, he sends his soldiers to kill
and to be killed.
He may love his
soldiers or he may not love them.
He may have
regard for them or he may not have regard for them. Even if he has regard for
them, however, he regards them as dead, for the angel of death is close upon
the heels of a man who goes to war, and accompanies him to kill him. When he is
cut down and slain by an arrow or a sword or any of the other instruments of
destruction, another man is put in his place and the king does not sense his
lack, for the nations are many and their troops are many. If one of them is
killed, the king has many replacements.
But our King,
the King of Kings, the Holy One, Blessed Be He, wants life and loves peace And pursues peace and loves His people
because we are a large nation, for we are one of the smallest of nations.
Owing to the
love with which He loves us – and we are few – each one of us is, for Him, an
entire legion. For he does not have many replacements for us.
If one of us is missing, heaven forefend, the King's forces are diminished, and
His kingdom is weakened, as it were. For His kingdom lacks one of His legions, and His greatness is lessened.
(S.Y. Agnon, Preface to Kaddish
– to be recited by the bier of
Adopted From Leon Wieseltier's translation in "Kaddish")
Pleasing Odor, Nahat Ruah, the Will
of the Lord
A pleasing odor – Nahat ruah [Nahat Ruah can
be translated as "satisfaction," "gratification,"
"tranquility," "serene spirit," "pleasure"] – pleasure
– for me, for I spoke and my will was executed.
(Rashi, Bemidbar 28:8)
Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and,
taking of every clean animal and of every clean bird, he offered burnt
offerings on the altar. The Lord smelled the reyah nikhoah [pleasing
odor] , and the Lord said to Himself: Never again will I doom the earth
because of man, since the devisings of
man's mind are evil from his youth; nor will I ever again destroy every living
being, as I have done.
Reyah nikhoah does
not mean "pleasant odor" but rather: the satisfaction of the request
and aspirations of the other.
(Rabbi S. R. Hirsch, Bereishit 8:21)
What need have I of all your sacrifices? says the Lord. I am sated with burnt offerings of rams
and suet of fatlings, and blood of bulls; I have no delight in lambs and
he-goats. That you come to appear before Me –
who asked that of you? Trample My courts no
more; Bringing oblations is futile, incense is offensive to Me. New moon and
Sabbath, proclaiming of solemnities, assemblies with iniquity, I cannot abide.
What need have I of all your
sacrifices – Rabbi Elazar said:
Prayer is superior to all offerings, for it is written What need
have I of all your sacrifices and it is written, And when you
lift up your hands… Though you pray at length, I will not listen. Rabbi Yohanan said: Any priest who has killed
someone shall not lift his arms [to bless], as is
written, Your hands are stained
(Yalkut Shimoni, Isaiah 247:387)
the offerings [minhat] of
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 minha offering – from the
vegetable – shall be pleasant to the Lord as in the days of yore.
Yitzchak HaKohen Kook, Olat
R'IYaH p. 282)
is obvious that in these days of enlightenment there will be no such concept of
pleasing the Lord with tens of thousands of streams of oil.
(Rabbi Hayyim Hirschenson: Malki Bakodesh, Part 1, p. 32)
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