Torah Teaser – Parshat Pinchas Qustions & Answers – July 2118

Was Tzelafchad’s Wife A Sotah? The Bnos Tzelafchad came to Moshe and said that their father died, but was not with Korach, and he had no sons. What is the connection between not being part of Korach’s group that argued with Moshe and not having any sons? The Pninim U’Parpara’os brings from the Chanukas HaTorah that the Gemara (Mo’ed Katan 18) says on the Pasuk (Tehilim 106:16) “Vayikanu L’Moshe BaMachaneh,” that each member of Korach’s group accused his wife of being with Moshe and they all became Sotah. The Gemara also says that if a Sotah is innocent of the charges, when she drinks the water she will be blessed with children if she is childless, and if she has only daughters, she will give birth to sons. The Bnos Tzelafchad told Moshe that clearly their father was not part of Korach’s group. How did they prove it? Their mother never had any sons. Had their father been in Korach’s group, she would have given birth to a baby boy after being wrongly accused by her husband.

Pinchos Closes The Chapter On Nadav & Avihu The Chiddushei HaRim says that the brave act of Pinchos was Michaper on the aveira of Nadav and Avihu and brought the Chanukas HaMishkan to completion. The aveira of Nadav and Avihu was that they did something that they were not commanded to do. Pinchos, on the other hand, did something that must be done, but no one may pasken that you must do (Halacha V’Ein Morin Kein). Nadav and Avihu took action without consulting Moshe Rabbeinu. Pinchos asked Moshe, although he did not have an answer. Nadav and Avihu were the first korbanos of the Mishkan, as they gave their lives Al Kiddush HaShem. Pinchos was moser nefesh and risked his life to be Mikadesh Shem Shamayim. “This is why,” says the Chiddushei HaRim, “Parshas Pinchos has in it the parsha of Korbanos Tzibbur.”

Rating Our Leaders Hashem tells Moshe to pass on the mantle of leadership to Yehoshua, “VNasata Mei Hodcha Alav; Give him from your radiance,” (Pinchos 27:20). The Gemara in Bava Basra (75) says MeiHodcha from your Hod but not all of it. From here the Zekeinim said that Moshe radiated like the sun, and Yehoshua only received part of Moshe’s radiance, and radiated like the moon; woe to the embarrassment! What did the Zekeinim mean when they said, “Woe to the embarrassment,” which embarrassment? The Peninim al HaParshas says the Chida explains that Yehoshua merited to succeed Moshe, because he cleaned up the Bais Medrash and was Mishamesh Moshe doing all the menial tasks. The Zekeinim, on the other hand, learned Torah from Moshe, but felt above menial chores. When they saw how wrong they were, as Yehoshua was elevated to be the Manhig, they said, “Woe to the embarrassment we felt at cleaning up.” That degradation was accepted by Yehoshua, and now he leads us. The Kotzker Rebbe has a different approach to this Gemara. He says that this Gemara is referring to those who rate their leaders. After hearing the Zekeinim say that Moshe was like the sun and Yehoshua like the moon, the Gemara itself comments, “Woe to the embarrassment of a generation who rates it leaders.”

Taking A Cue From Bnos Tzelafchad Immediately after the Torah talks about the Yerusha of Bnos Tzelafchad, the next parsha, tells how Moshe asked Hashem to appoint his successor. Rashi says that after Hashem told Moshe to give a Nachala to Bnos Tzelafchad, he asked Hashem to let his own children inherit his leadership. However, the chiddush of Bnos Tzelafchad was that daughters inherit. That sons inherit, was known long before that, so why did Moshe wait until now? The Mekach Tov brings from Rav Mordechai of Chernobyl that Moshe, being the most modest man on earth, considered himself a Chotei. That being the case, he didn’t believe he would merit to pass along his inheritance to his children. When Hashem declared that Bnos Tzelafchad should receive their father’s inheritance even though by their own admission he was a sinner, he then felt he could beseech Hashem on behalf of his own children.

Why Did Pinchos Have To Wait To Become A Kohen? Pinchos was rewarded, and became a Kohen, after he courageously defended Hashem’s honor by killing Zimri. Although his father was Elazar, and his grandfather Aharon HaKohen, he, himself, was not a Kohen since Hashem only bestowed the Kehuna on Aharon, his children, and the grandchildren born thereafter; whereas Pinchos had already been born. The Maharal MiPrague asks, “Why did Hashem do this strange thing and rob him of the stature that he rightfully deserved from the beginning?” Rav Schorr answers that the reason why Pinchos earned the Kehuna was that this killing was considered an act of chessed. Any act done L’Shem Mitzva will have the opposite of the detrimental effect that would logically follow (e.g., getting rich from giving tzedaka). Although murder is the ultimate cruel act, when done in a manner that would be a mitzva, it is the ultimate chessed. However, the halacha remains that a Kohen who murders may not perform Birchas Kohanim. By not giving Pinchos the status of a Kohen, he earned it with the killing of Zimri. Had Pinchos already been a Kohen, that very same act would have made him forfeit his right to serve as a Kohen.

Created By Rov Avrohom Sherman
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