Pinchas || “Phinehas ” – PRINCE OF PEACE
–Behold I give him My Covenant of peace, No Power to Judge to him
-Zeal for the Torah and Zeal for the House of Most High and Zeal for the Covenant and Zeal for the Inheritance of the Land
–Pursuing Peace, Loving people, and Bringing them closer to the Torah of Messiah
Pinchas (????) is the Hebrew name translated in English Bibles as Phinehas. Phinehas is the name of the forty-first reading from the Torah because of the second verse of the reading, which says, “Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned away My wrath” – Numbers 25:11. In this Torah portion, the LORD makes a Covenant of peace with Phinehas and his descendants, orders a second census, settles questions about inheritance, appoints Joshua to succeed Moses and lists the sacrifices for the appointed times.
- Pinchas is rewarded for killing the Israelite and the Midianite woman who cursed G-d. – Numbers 25:10–15
- Israel fights a war against the Midianites. -Numbers 25:16-18
- A second census is taken. – Numbers 26:1–65
- The daughters of Zelophehad force a change in the laws of property inheritance. – Numbers 27:1–11
- Joshua is chosen to be Moses successor. – Numbers 27:15–23
- The sacrificial ritual for all festival . – Numbers 28:1–30:1
Then HaShem spoke to Moses, saying: Pinchas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned back My wrath from the children of Israel, because he was zealous with My zeal among them, so that I did not consume the children of Israel in My zeal. -Numbers 25:10-11
Zohar writings: “And Hashem spoke to Moses, saying, Pinchas, the son of Elazar…” -Bemidbar 25:10-11. Rabbi Elazar began, “Hear, my son, the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the Torah of your mother” -Mishlei 1:8. “Hear, my son, the instruction of your father…” refers to the Holy One, blessed be He. “and do not forsake the Torah of your mother,” refers to the Congregation of Yisrael. What is the instruction of your father? Instruction is the Torah which contains a number of rebukes and punishments, as it is said: “My son, do not despise the chastening of Hashem, nor be weary of His correction” -Mishlei 3:11.
Pinchas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned back My wrath from the children of Israel, because he was zealous with My zeal among them, so that I did not consume the children of Israel in My zeal. Therefore say, ‘Behold, I give to him My covenant of peace; and it shall be to him and his descendants after him a covenant of an everlasting priesthood, because he was zealous for his G-d, and made atonement for the children of Israel.’-Numbers 25:11-13
Rabbi Yosi said, This that is written concerning Pinchas, “Behold I give him My covenant of peace” , refers to peace from the Angel of Death, the Angel who will never have control over him or have power to judge him.
The Parsha makes a point to mention Pinchas’s lineage, tracing it back to Aaron, of whom it is said, “Be of the disciples of Aaron, loving peace and pursuing peace, loving people, and bringing them closer to the Torah” -Pirkei Avot 1:12.
Pinchas was zealous in his actions. His intentions were only “for the honor of Heaven” as G-d says it was “My vengeance”. Pinchas did not fear doing this in the public view. It would appear he “judged” the situation correctly, and placed his own spiritual and material welfare to the side in order to carry out G-d’s will – His Torah.
Compare Pinchas’ “judging correctly” with Yeshua’s teachings from the book of new testament who says, “By which you judge, you will be judged.” G-d is said to both punish and reward people, “measure for measure” (midah k’neged midah).
But if a person looks closely into the perfect Torah, which gives freedom, and continues, becoming not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work it requires, then he will be blessed in what he does. -James 1:25
Notice the zeal and the result of act of Pincha’s : A covenant of peace is given to him; The everlasting priesthood is given to him and made atonement for Israel.
The zeal of Yeshua Himself : His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.” – John 2:17
Because Zeal for Your house has eaten me up, and the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me. -Psalms 69:9
In another place, David writes about zeal this way: Rivers of water run down from my eyes, because men do not keep Your Torah. Righteous are You, O HaShem, and upright are Your Judgements. Your testimonies, which You have commanded, are righteous and very faithful. My zeal has consumed me, because my enemies have forgotten Your words. Your word is very pure; Therefore Your servant loves it. I am small and despised, yet I do not forget Your precepts. Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and Your Torah is truth. -Psalms 119:136-142
Zeal for G-d’s Word, zeal for His Torah And yet, Yeshua’s own words in Matthew : “Don’t think that I have come to abolish the Torah or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete. Yes indeed! I tell you that until heaven and earth pass away, not so much as a yud or a stroke will pass from the Torah- not until everything that must happen has happened. So whoever disobeys the least of these mitzvot and teaches others to do so will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But whoever obeys them and so teaches will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven. -Matthew 5:17-19
They were zealous for G-d’s Word: And they said to him ( Rabbi Shaul ), “You see, brother, how many myriads of Jews there are who have believed, and they are all zealous for the Torah.” -Acts 21:20
Rabbi Shaul too is zealous for the Torah: I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city and trained at the feet of Gamliel in every detail of the Torah of our forefathers. I am a zealot for G-d, as all of you are today. -Acts 22:3
We have seen that zeal for G-d, for His inheritance, for His Word, for His House, and for righteous living is a good thing. G-d is looking for men, women, and children who, like Pinchas, the daughters of Tz’laf’chad, David, Rabbi Shaul, the early believers in Jerusalem, and Yeshua Himself were all zealous.
Zeal for the Kingdom of Messiah
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty G-d, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with Judgement and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of HaShem of hosts will perform this. -Isaiah 9:6-7
Through a proper balance of; Torah study, prayer and performing of the commandments, we can seek the truth of G-d regarding His plan for us in this lifetime.
Come HaShem Yeshuah (Salvation), and establish Your Kingdom, on Your Holy Hill, in Your Holy City Jerusalem. Amein.
Numbers 27 : 2 -4
1 Kings 18:46-19:21
This week’s Torah Portion – begins with Pinchas being rewarded for his problematic act of killing the Israelite and his Midianite paramour in the previous portion. A census is then conducted and G-d tells Moses how to divide the land between the tribes and people of Israel. The five daughters of Tzelafchad ask Moses to grant them the land of their father, who died with no sons, and G-d accepts their claim and adds it to the Torah’s laws of inheritance. Moses names Joshua as his successor, and it ends with a detailed list of daily offerings.
Daughters of Tzelophechad :
G-d gives Pinhas a covenant of peace; G-d explains the apportionment of the Land of Israel; the daughters of Tzelophechad petition to inherit their father’s portion; Moses appoints Joshua his successor.
“The daughters of Zelophehad … came forward” — when the daughters of Zelophehad heard that the land would be divided among the tribes, but not to women, they all gathered in consultation. They said, “The mercy of the Omnipresent is not like the mercy of flesh and blood. Flesh and blood are more merciful to men than to women; but not so the Creator. His mercy extends to all, as it is said: ‘Who gives food to all flesh – Psalms. 136:25; ‘Who gives the beasts their food’ (Psalms. 147:9); and ‘The Lord is good to all and His mercy is upon all His works’ –Psalms. 145:9.
Who is this “flesh and blood” who is “more merciful to men than to women”? One could say human beings in general. But in contrast to the Holy One, blessed be He, Moses too was “flesh and blood”; he too, like the rest of mankind (at least as was perceived by the ancients) emotionally tended to have more regard for men than for women. Therefore, he himself did not bring up the issue, which in the end proved fully justified, of why they should not inherit. The virtue of the daughters of Zelophehad lay in their not making do with the first formulation of the law. Out of their deep faith that the Holy One, blessed be He, transcends the emotional tendencies of men, who favour men over women, they came forward and demanded their share in the Divine destiny. Therefore they merited having this passage attributed to them. The Torah recorded for all time not only the laws on inheritance themselves, but also the context in which these were given: the story of the petition that the daughters of Zelophehad addressed to Moses and their ultimate success in their endeavor. To paraphrase Nahmanides, “the good deeds of the mothers can serve as an omen for the daughters.”
Rabbi Nathan says: The strength of women is finer than the strength of men. The men said, “Let us head back [nitnah rosh] for Egypt” Numbers 14:4) and the women said, “Give us [tenahlanu] a holding among our father’s kinsmen” –Numbers. 27:4.
Identification of Pinchas:
The identification of Pinchas with Elijah, by means of the known Agaddic statement that “Pinchas is Elijah,” is an attempt by some of the Sages to describe the mysterious figure of the prophet.
The repute of Pinchas was greater than the wealth of Zimri, who was the head of the Tribe of Simeon. What did Zimri do… It is of him that Solomon said, The wicked man is brazen-faced, and of Pinchas that he said, The upright man discerns his course (Proverbs 21:29). In what way was Zimri brazen… Moses said to him, (Proverbs. 21:30) No wisdom, no prudence, and no counsel can prevail against the Lord. The Holy One, blessed be He, responded: I know who is prepared to take action in this matter; for what is the very next verse (Proverbs 21:31): The horse is readied for the day of battle, but victory comes from the Lord.. Rabbi Jose said, “Pinchas himself understood this derasha and applied it to himself: If a horse risks his life for the day of battle even though he may die, nevertheless he is ready to give his life for his master, how should I behave? But what shall I do, for two can overcome one, but can one overcome two? While he was reasoning with himself, the plague began to rage and the Holy One, blessed be He, said (Proverbs 24:10-12): ‘If you showed yourself slack in time of trouble, … if you refrained from rescuing those taken off to death, … if you say: we know nothing of it.. I [the Almighty] testify about you, Pinchas, [that you are equal to the task] as it is said (Proverbs 24:12), Surely He who fathoms hearts will discern [the truth] .’ When Pinchas saw the plague, he stood and prayed, as it is said (Psalms 106:30), Pinchas stepped forth and intervened.. Immediately the Holy One, blessed be He, called to Moses and said to him, ‘Come here, and I shall disclose to you who saved the seed of Abraham, as it is said (Num. 25:11), Pinchas, son of Eleazar.’ Hence it is said (Prov. 22:1), Repute is preferable to great wealth.”
Lord informed Moses through the words “Pinchas, son of Eleazar... has turned back My wrath from the Israelite’s by displaying among them his passion for Me.” Pinchas was ready to give his life to sanctify the Name, he did not pay respect to a Master, but prayed and saved the offspring of Abraham; therefore King Solomon could say of him, “Repute is preferable to great wealth.“
When Pinchas, son of Eleazar … saw this (Numbers 25:7). Did not everyone see it? For it is written (Numbers 25:6), “in the sight of Moses and of the whole Israelite community.” Rather, he saw what had been done, and that called to mind a rule of halakhah: He who has relations with an Aramean woman, zealots strike at him. He left the assembly (verse. 7). How so? Rather, they were discussing the issue whether or not he should be put to death. Then Pinchas left the assembly, volunteered himself, took a spear in hand, … and zealously defended the Lord’s Name, and He wrought twelve miracles for him,… When Pinchas saw that He [the Lord] wished to wipe them out, he beat them [Zimri and Cozbi] to the ground, and stood and prayed, and put an end to [the plague]. As it is said in Psalms 106:30, “Pinchas stepped forth and intervened (va-yepalel),” carrying out the law, as it is said (Ex. 21:22), “the payment being as the judge determines (bi-plilim).” As it says in Proverbs (16:14), “The king’s wrath is a messenger of death, but a wise man can appease it.” It is like a king who was passing by a group of youngsters, and one of them cursed the king, arousing the king’s wrath at them. Along came one who lived with them, and meted out punishment to the one who had cursed the king, and the king’s wrath was immediately allayed. Who, similarly, allayed the wrath of the Holy One, blessed be He, so that all the Israelites were not wiped out? It was Pinchas, carrying out the saying, “but a wise man can appease it.”
The Sages tell us that Pinchas saw a certain act, and immediately recalled a rule of halakhah, which he had surely learned from the Master and Prophet of Israel, who had momentarily overlooked this halakhah. The Israelites, as well, were “discussing the issue” and procrastinating, but Pinchas, “one who lived with them,” came forward and volunteered and, zealously standing up for the Name, he stepped forth and intervened. So we read in the midrash: “As Scriptures say,” … “Who but Pinchas… caused the Holy One, blessed be He, to …,” “fulfilling what is said, ‘but a wise man can appease it.’”
Song of Songs Rabbah identifies a verse from Song of Songs, “You have captured my heart, my sister, my bride” (Song 4:9), with Pinchas: The Holy One, blessed be He, said, “You had one heart at Shittim, but you gave me two hearts. You have captured my heart with one [glance] of your eyes , refers to Pinchas, as it is said (Psalms 106:30), Pinchas stepped forth and intervened, … It was reckoned to his merit.” Presumably the Midrash means that Pinchas was one of the “eyes of the community,” a leader, and as the Rabbis taught, “the Merciful One desires the heart” or the devout sincerity of a person, which is what Pinchas gave.
Ecclesiastes Rabbah, in several alternatives which it presents for understanding a verse in Ecclesiastes, does not overlook Pinchas: “He who is pleasing to G-d escapes her (Eccles. 7:26) refers to Joseph; and he who is displeasing is caught by her, refers to Potiphar. An alternative interpretation is that He who is pleasing refers to Pinchas, and he who is displeasing refers to Zimri.”
Another interpretation (for Psalms 15:2-3) : He who lives without blame is Abraham… Who has never borne reproach for his neighbour is Pinchas, who was from the tribe of Levi; Zimri, who was from the tribe of Simeon, was immediately killed because of what he had done, so there would not be reproach for Israel.
We conclude with the following midrash: Bless the Lord, O His angels (Psalms. 103:20) … for the prophets were called angels; likewise it says, asked the angel (Zechariah. 4:5). Rabbi Judah bar Simon said, “An angel of the Lord came up from Gilgal (Judges 2:1) is a reference to Pinchas.” The Rabbis added, “From the verse, He looked like an angel of G-d, very frightening (Judges 13:6), we learn that the prophets were called angels.“
We began with the homily that identifies Pinchas with “The upright man discerns his course.” “G-d made men plain ( upright ) , but they have engaged in too much reasoning” (Eccles. 7:29). Pinchas remained upright from beginning to end. Although he began by reasoning or rationalising to himself, he quickly reached the conclusion that a swift response is required to uphold the sanctity of G-d’s name. In order to save the people of Israel one must not make lengthy preparations, rather one must intervene at once. Pinchas, remembering a teaching, acted zealously and stepped forth voluntarily; then many miracles were wrought for him. He served as the eye of the community, as the “pleasing one, who “stole and won” and who “never bore reproach for his neighbour,” without favouring those close to him. He is the angel of the Lord who came up from Gilgal, and it is his revelation that we await in our day, for “Pinchas is Elijah.” May he not only sit under the Tree of Life, chronicling the merits of Israel, but may he realise them speedily together with the coming of the Messiah. Amen.
The zeal that Yeshua had was the zeal of Pinchas the son of Eleazar,
“The Passover in Judea was at hand, and Yeshua went up to Jerusalem. He found in the temple those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, and the changers of money sitting. He made a whip of cords, and threw all out of the temple, both the sheep and the oxen; and he poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew their tables. To those who sold the doves, he said, “Take these things out of here! Don’t make my Father’s house a marketplace!” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” -John 2:13-17
“Pinchas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, in that he was jealous with my jealousy among them, so that I didn’t consume the children of Israel in my jealousy. Therefore say, Behold, I give to him my covenant of peace, and it shall be to him, and to his seed after him, the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was jealous for his G-d, and made atonement for the children of Israel.” -Numbers 25:11-13
The Fig Tree – Its about to cleansing of the Temple and restoration of Israel
John the Immerser prophesied from the beginning of his mission that Yeshua would cleanse the Temple,“His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will thoroughly cleanse his threshing floor. He will gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn up with unquenchable fire.” -Matthew 3:12
The term “threshing floor” refers to the Temple, as David purchased the plot of land for the altar, “Gad came that day to David, and said to him, ‘Go up, build an altar to HaShem on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” -II Samuel 24:18
Cleansing the Temple: “Yeshua entered into the Temple in Jerusalem. When he had looked around at everything, it being now evening, he went out to Bethany with the twelve. The next day, when they had come out from Bethany, he was hungry. Seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came to see if perhaps he might find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. Yeshua told it, May no one ever eat fruit from you again! and his disciples heard it. They came to Jerusalem, and Yeshua entered into the temple, and began to throw out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money changers, and the seats of those who sold the doves. He would not allow anyone to carry a container through the temple. He taught, saying to them, Isn’t it written, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers! The chief priests and the scribes heard it, and sought how they might destroy him. For they feared him, because all the multitude was astonished at his teaching. When evening came, he went out of the city. As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away from the roots. Peter, remembering, said to him, Rabbi, look! The fig tree which you cursed has withered away.” -Mark 11:11-21
FIG LEAVES – Linked to Spiritual Status of Man
Yeshua only found fig leaves and “fig leaves” link to the spiritual status of Man. In Genesis, it describes the fall of man:
“Seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came to see if perhaps he might find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs.” -Mark 11:13
“When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit, and ate; and she gave some to her husband with her, and he ate. The eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked. They sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. They heard the voice of HaShem Elokim walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of HaShem Elokim among the trees of the garden.”
There is an opinion that the fig was the fruit of the tree of knowledge and good and evil, “R’ Meir holds that the tree of which Adam ate was the vine, since the thing that most causes wailing to a man is wine, as it says, And he drank of the wine and was drunken. R’ Nehemiah says it was the fig tree, so that they repaired their misdeed with the instrument of it, as it says, ‘And they sewed fig leaves together.”
Berakhot 40a, Soncino Press Edition
Low spiritual state, as the prophet Jeremiah says: “From the prophet even to the priest everyone deals falsely. For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of My people slightly, saying, “Peace, peace; when there is no peace.” Were they ashamed when they had done an abomination? No, they were not at all ashamed, nor could they blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall, in the time of their visitation they shall be cast down,’ says Hashem. ‘I will utterly consume them,’ says HaShem,’there shall be no grapes on the vine, nor figs on the fig tree, and the leaf shall fade, and the things that I have given them, those who pass over them.” -Jeremiah 8:10-13
fruit has a deeper meaning, as the prophet Micah says: “Misery is mine! Indeed, I am like one who gathers the summer fruits, as gleanings of the vineyard: There is no cluster of grapes to eat. My soul desires to eat the early fig. The godly man has perished out of the earth, and there is no one upright among men. They all lie in wait for blood, every man hunts his brother with a net.” -Micah 7:1-2
The Artscroll commentary on Micah says: “Micah compares the small number of righteous people of his generation to the spare number of summer fruit (Metsudos) or to the unripe figs of inferior quality that remain on the trees after the harvest (Rashi). . . Alternatively, he is lamenting over Israel who refused to hearken to his rebuke. He grieves over the extent of their wickedness and the retribution that G-d has prepared for them .”
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” -Matthew 5:6
The qualities of the Israel of old, like the fathers before them, as Hosea says:“I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness. I saw your fathers as the first ripe in the fig tree at its first season . . .” -Hosea 9:10
As we see with our own eyes the land of Israel bloom, Yeshua our Messiah had spoke about the future restoration of Israel:
“Now learn the parable of the fig tree. When its branch is still tender and puts out leaves, you know that summer is near. So you, likewise, when you see all these things, shall know that it is near, at the doors. Truly I say to you, this generation shall not pass until all these things are fulfilled.” -Matthew 24:32-34
UNDER THE FIG TREE
“Judah and Israel lived safely, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, from Dan even to Beersheba, all the days of Solomon.” -1 Kings 4:25
The prophet Micah speaks of the days when shalom will return during the Messianic era: “Many nations will go and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of HaShem, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths. For out of Zion will go forth the Torah, and the word of HaShem from Jerusalem; and he will judge between many peoples, and will decide concerning strong nations afar off. They will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, neither will they learn war any more. But they will sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and no one will make them afraid: For the mouth of the LORD of Hosts has spoken.” -Micah 4:2-4
Yeshua alludes to this in John: “Yeshua saw Nathanael coming to him, and said about him, Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit! Nathanael said to him, How do you know me? Yeshua answered him, Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you. Nathanael answered him, Rabbi, you are the Son of G-d! You are King of Israel! Yeshua answered him, Because I told you, I saw you underneath the fig tree, do you believe? You will see greater things than these! He said to him, Most certainly, I tell you, hereafter you will see heaven opened, and the angels of G-d ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” -John 1:47-51
PINCHAS – Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum
PINCHAS, PRINCE OF PEACE
“Pinchas son of Elazar son of Aaron the Priest turned away My wrath from upon the Children of Israel in his zealousness. Therefore say: I hereby give him My Covenant of Peace” (Numbers 25:11-12).
The opening verses of our parshah of PINCHAS follow immediately after the account of Pinchas’ heroic act given at the end of last week’s parshah, BALAK. The Prince of the tribe of Shimon was publicly flouting Moses’ authority by taking a Midianite princess for himself in front of his brothers, in front of Moses and in front of the whole Assembly of Israel. His claim was that if Moses could marry the daughter of the Priest of Midian, why should he not also be allowed to take a Midianite woman?
The humble Moses was speechless. The meaning of his marriage with Tzipporah was to exalted to be explained in a public forum. Nobody could remember the halachah. In the consternation over this public scandal, the law was concealed from everyone’s eyes. Everyone was weeping. The Prince of the tribe of Shimon was publicly flouting the prohibition against intermarriage by taking a Midianite princess into his tent, and political rectitude was saying “Let them”. The aim was to open the floodgates to casual relations with people of all nations without discrimination, leading to intermarriage, assimilation and the erasing of all boundaries between holy and profane.
There is profound irony in this challenge to the authority of Moses, the Levite. It was Jacob’s second-born, Shimon, who had joined his next younger brother, Levy, in the act of zealousness that earned them the anger of their father (Genesis Chapter 34, see UNIVERSAL TORAH #8 VAYISHLACH). This was the vengeance on the inhabitants of Shechem for the kidnapping of their sister Dinah. The inhabitants of Shechem had agreed to become circumcised, but for the wrong reason: it was not the Covenant of Abraham that they wanted, but the Israelite girls.
The present challenge to the Covenant of Abraham came from the wicked Bilaam, who advised Balak, king of the Moabites, that the way to undermine the holiness of Israel was by enticing the Israeli boys with their girls, who would then pull out their idols and make the Israelites worship them. Ironically, in this test, the Prince of the tribe of Shimon uses his characteristic trait of GEVURAH in zealous championship of complete personal freedom, challenging Moses’ Levitical zeal for the Covenant — which imposes restraints on the satisfaction of our physical appetites — and Moses was speechless.
Only Pinchas remembered — young Pinchas, the son of Elazar, who was now High Priest after his father, Aaron. Fear was keeping everyone else’s mouths gagged as the true Israelite code of morality was publicly mocked. Pinchas himself was in a minority of one. He was in mortal danger of being publicly lynched for daring to challenge contemporary political rectitude. Even so, he courageously took up his spear, went straight into the tent after them and pierced the two of them in the act through their private parts, bringing them out thereafter on the spear to show everyone.
The law that Pinchas championed is stated clearly by RAMBAM (Maimonides) in his Code. “An Israelite who has marital relations with an idol-worshipper from one of the other peoples or an Israelite woman who has marital relations with an idol-worshipper are liable to 40 lashes by Torah law. The Torah forbids only marriage, but one who has casual relations with a non-Israelite is liable to the penalty of lashes by rabbinical decree because it leads to marriage. Anyone who has relations with an idol-worshipper, whether in the context of marriage or casually, if he performed the act publicly, i.e. in front of ten or more Israelites, IF THE ZEALOUS ATTACK AND KILL HIM, THEY ARE PRAISEWORTHY AND VALIANT and this is a Law given to Moses on Sinai, and the proof is what Pinchas did to Zimri.”
This particular law about zeal is hedged with numerous qualifications: the zealot may only strike them at the moment of the act. If the zealot came to the Rabbinic Court and asked permission to kill, they do not give such a ruling. (Mishneh Torah, Issurey Biyah, Forbidden Relationships ch. 12, 1-8).
It is forbidden to take the law into one’s own hands. Only a person of the supreme purity and saintliness of Pinchas could do what he did. The point is not to legitimize killing, which has already gotten completely out of hand in the sad, bullet-torn, explosion-shattered world in which we live today. Far more important is to understand the actual severity of the crime for which the Torah allows a saint like Pinchas to single-handedly kill the perpetrators when this is absolutely necessary at that moment for the honor of G-d and the sanctity of the People of Israel. In the words of RAMBAM: “This practice (of casual relations and intermarriage) causes one to become attached to the idolaters, from whom the Holy One blessed be He has separated us, and to turn away from HaShem and betray Him” (ibid.)
Pinchas’ valor lay in standing up for what is right and true even though it flew in the face of the prevailing orthodoxy, and he was in mortal danger of getting lynched. Pinchas did not flinch from stating the Torah law, even when it was unpopular, and for this he was given G-d’s Covenant of Peace.
Our age is obsessed with the search for peace. How ironic that the more everyone runs after peace, the more it eludes us. Every plan that is supposed to bring peace seems to lead only to further strife and violence. Could it be that those who are so zealous for peace would be more effective if they were to apply their zeal to the search for G-d and His Torah? The authentic Israelite pathway to peace is recited daily at the end of the morning prayers: “Rabbi Elazar said in the name of Rabbi Chanina: The students of the wise increase peace in the world, as it says: ‘And all of your children are students of G-d, and great is the peace of your children’. Read the Hebrew word for children in that verse not as BANECHA, ‘your children’, but as ‘BONECHA’, your BUILDERS!’ ” The way to build true peace is through studying and keeping the Torah.
INHERITING THE LAND
Approaching the end of the forty-years in the Wilderness, the new generation of the Children of Israel stood assembled in the plains of Moab near the Jordan River, facing Jericho, poised to enter the Promised Land. The land was to be divided among those counted in the census that G-d now commanded Moses to take. As we approach the conclusion of the Book of Numbers and come towards the Book of Deuteronomy, the theme of the Land of Israel and how we are to live in it becomes increasingly prominent. One of the first lessons we learn is from the fact that the land is to be divided fairly among all the people. The vision is one of a nation of equal, independent homestead owners possessing family pride as opposed to one in which a minority of wealthy property-owners exploit and manipulate a migrant population lacking strong family roots, alienated and cut off from the land.
In Torah law, land is considered the best and surest property — movables (let alone paper wealth) cannot compare. While sale and purchase of land takes up a sizeable part of Torah law, the sages counseled not to part with land whenever possible, and certainly not ancestral land. Land should be held and transferred from generation to generation. Our parshah introduces the Torah law of inheritance (see also Deuteronomy 21:16ff). The law was given by G-d to Moses in response to a question raised before him concerning inheritance by daughters. The question was raised by the daughters of Tzelaphchad, who had died of his own sin in the wilderness leaving no sons. They asked for their father’s share of the land to be given to them so that his family name should not be diminished among his brothers.
The daughters of Tzelaphchad longed and yearned for the Land of Isr. They could not bear the thought that their family would not have a part and a share in the land.
In the words of the Midrash: “When the daughters of Tzelaphchad heard that the Land was to be divided among the males but not the females, they all gathered together to take counsel. They said, ‘Not like the love of flesh and blood is the love of G-d. A person of flesh and blood has more love for the males than the females, but He who spoke and the world came into being is not that way. Males. females. His love is for all! As it is written: ‘His love is over ALL His works’ (Psalm 146)
The Midrash continues: ” . “Rabbi Nathan said: The power of women is more beautiful than the power of men. The men said, ‘Let us appoint a head and return to Egypt’ (Numbers 14), but the women said, ‘Give us a share of the land’ (Numbers 27:4).”
THE MANTLE OF LEADERSHIP
Land may pass from father to son (or daughter) but leadership must pass not by inheritance (unless it is genuinely deserved) but from a true leader only to a true student. As we start to approach the end of the Torah, issues relating to the end of life (such as inheritance) are more to the fore. This is the case in our parshah, where Moses is instructed to ascend the mountain to see the Land for which he so yearned, after which he was to die.
Characteristically, Moses’ first thought at that moment was not for himself but for those he would be leaving behind. “And Moses said to HaShem: Let HaShem, the G-d of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the Assembly, who will go out before them and come in before them and who will bring them out and bring them in, and the Assembly of HaShem will not be like a flock that has no shepherd” (Numbers 27:15-17).
The appointment of Joshua as Moses’ successor to lead the Children of Israel into the Land of Israel involves the mystery of SEMICHAH, the “laying on of hands” whereby the Master gives Torah authority to the Student. Joshua deserved this because of his assiduous devotion to Moses and his constant study of the Torah: “He had been Moses attendant from his youth” (Numbers 11:28) “and his attendant Joshua the son of Nun was a lad who would not move outside the tent”.
[Rabbi Nachman of Breslov explains the mystery of SEMICHAH and how the “hand” signifies the transfer of wisdom in Likutey Moharan Part I, Discourse 61 #2.]
“AND THE LAND WILL GIVE ITS PRODUCE”
Directly after the account of the appointment of Joshua to lead the Children of Israel into the Land, the Torah enters into a lengthy section detailing the sacrifices in the Temple every day, on Shabbat, on the New Moon and on each of the festivals throughout the year. The juxtaposition of the two sections is explained in the commentary of RAMBAN, (Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman, Nachmanides). “Having said, ‘Among these you shall divide up land’, G-d completed the exposition of the law of the sacrifices that they should perform in the land.”
There is an integral connection between the inheritance of the Land and bringing sacrifices to the Temple every day, every week, every month and on every festival. The Temple is at the very center of the land in all three dimensions of existence: time, space and soul. The souls of the people who inhabit the land must to be focussed on the Temple both in terms of time and space. In terms of time, they must be focussed on the Temple through the services that must be performed at specific junctures in time: in the morning and afternoon (times of the daily sacrifices), on the Sabbath, on the New Moon, and particularly on the three pilgrim festivals, when the whole nation must come up to Jerusalem.
Space is intimately bound up with these very services in the Temple at these various junctures in time. This is because the Temple services are centered on the produce of the Land. Our parshah details the various sacrifices of lambs, oxen, wheat, oil and wine on the Temple Altar daily, on Shabbat, the New Moon and all the Festivals. The regular offering of these token gifts culled from the produce of the Land elevates and brings blessing to all of the fruits of the Land.
Unique among the offerings on the Altar are those on the festival of Succoth (“Tabernacles”). On the first day, the offerings included thirteen oxen, on the second day twelve, and so on. The total number of oxen offered on the seven days of the festival was seventy, corresponding to the seventy nations of the world, for whose blessing and welfare Israel is also charged with responsibility. It is our prayer that both Israel and the nations will quickly realize that peace and blessing will come only from the Temple services and not from empty peace plans.
On Succoth even the humblest of all has its place on the Altar: water. The Midrash tells us that at the time of creation, the waters cried out to G-d that everyone has a place on the Altar — oxen, sheep, wheat, barley, oil, wine. All except for water. The waters threatened to engulf the world until G-d promised them that on the festival of Succoth, Israel would offer a libation of humble water on the Altar, accompanied by SIMCHAS BEIS HASHO-EVA, “the Joy of the Water Drawing”, which was so great that it brought people to prophecy.
The water libation on Succoth is not written explicitly in the Torah but only allusively. Three seemingly minute anomalies in the Hebrew phrasing of the laws of the offerings of the second, sixth and seventh days of the festival of Succoth, enable us to trace the letters of the word Hebrew word MAYIM — WATER — running through the Hebrew text (see Rashi on Numbers 29:18).
May we constantly drink the waters of the Torah, “and this book of the Torah will not move from your mouth, and you shall meditate in it day and night in order to guard and perform all that is written in it, for then you will have success in your paths and then you will be wise” (Joshua 1:8).
Shabbat Shalom!!! –Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum
Haftarat Pinchas – 1 Kings 18:46-19:21
This week’s parasha and haftarah are always read during the beginning of the “Three Weeks of Mourning.” ( By the 17 Tammuz and 9 Av ) , these are the saddest days in the History of G-d’s people. These are the dates of the Sin of the Golden Calf, the Ten Spies bad report, and the destruction of the First and Second Temple. These are days of repentance and also the days of trouble and also days of mercy.
This week’s Torah portion is named for Pinchas, the grandson of the High Priest Aaron. The Sages say that Pinchas had the “spirit of Eliyahu ( Elijah )” in that his zeal struck down idolatry and the plagues associated with it. This week’s reading from the Prophets is about Elijah the Prophet, immediately after doing his part in destroying the priests of Ba’al.
Elijah’s zeal had destroyed the priests of Ba’al, and now that same zeal was calling out Israel’s sin against the covenant.
And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of HaShem came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” So he said, “I have been very zealous for HaShem G-d of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”
-1 Kings 19:9-10
Contrast that to Moses’ pleading before the Presence of the Holy One, blessed is He.
“Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people.” And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Then he said to Him, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us? So we shall be separate, Your people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth.” So HaShem said to Moses, “I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.” And he said, “Please, show me Your glory.” Then He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of HaShem before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” And HaShem said, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.” -Exodus 33:13-23
HaShem calls Elijah : SMALL VOICE
Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before HaShem.” And behold, HaShem passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before HaShem, but HaShem was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but HaShem was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but HaShem was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” And he said, “I have been very zealous for HaShem G-d of hosts; because the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.” -1 Kings 19:11-14
Beloved, Elijah had acted zealously to destroy the false prophets of Ba’al. In the same way, Pinchas had acted zealously to stop the plague sweeping through the camp of Israel. Moses also acted zealously, to declare the covenant faithfulness of HaShem – Elijah’s call for the punishment of Israel was met with a display of three instruments of punishment: fire, earthquake, and wind. HaShem’s desire was not to punish Israel, but to redeem her.
Zeal is not only about taking up the sword and also about extending mercy Of Most High and Redemption to the House of Israel.
The Sages not only saw the similarity between Pinchas and Elijah – they also say that these two points to the Messiah. It on the merit of Pinchas’ zeal that we can hope for a Final Redemption. It is on the merit of Elijah’s zeal that he will announce the coming of Messiah.
Blessed art Thou, HaShem, Who brings forth the Manifestation of Salvation. ( Baruch Atah HaShem, matzmiach keren Yeshuah )
We will see that the children of Israel return to Most High and Torah of Mashiach, And will hug in the Holy Land, and by obeying and listening the “VOICE of Most Ancient Holy One of Israel”, will bring offerings in a righteous way on the holy mountain and also bring the Ark of the covenant with pure heart in the right place ( i.e In Har HaBayit, on the foundation Stone) .
We will Welcome the son of David on Mount Zion, Jerusalem.
[ Ha Khadosh Baruch Hu – Baruch HaBa B’Shem Adonai ] – Gaddi, President, BetYisrael International.
Gaddi – President
A Servant of Most Ancient Holy one of Israel and Disciple of Yeshua HaMashiach