Thursday, July 28, 2016

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Pinchas

Since there are no Rabbi Frand shiurim on the Parsha until Elul, I would like to substitute a vort from other Rabbanim each week, rather than leaving the blog without a vort for shabbos. This week, I am attempting to repeat a vort heard from R' Eli Mansour as recorded on Same rules as usual apply - I have attempted to reproduce the vorts to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to the maggid shiur.

R' Mansour began his vort by noting that Pinchas is a sequel or continuation of last week's Parsha. Balak had been upset when his plan to hire Bilaam failed because Bilaam was unable to curse the Jews. So  they hatched a plot to entrap the Jews with immorality because they knew that the G-d of the Jews hates immorality. 

The plot entailed setting up shops where the Jews could buy trinkets. But once they entered the shops they saw young women in the back of the shop. The women offered them wine and they got drunk and worshiped avodah zarah (Ba'al Peor) and then committed acts of immorality. 

Hashem got angry at the Jews because of their acts and there was a plague where 24,000 Jews died. But Pinchas saw what happened and was upset and he speared Zimri and Cozby who were publicly engaging in immorality. This is reflected in Tehillim in which it is written Vayaamod Pinchas Vayipallel - Pinchas after spearing Zimri and Cozby asked Hashem - will you kill all of the Jews because of these two?

R' Mansour observed that Pinchas' question was odd from two similar perspectives. First - Pinchas should anticipate that Hashem would answer him - no, the Jews are dying because of their own actions. Secondly, why would Pinchas only attack these two when many Jews from different tribes were engaging in these acts?

R' Mansour answered based upon the Ben Ish Chai. The Ben Ish Chai prefaced the answer by telling a mashal about a Rabbi who was collecting money for a yeshiva. On Tisha B'Av the Rabbi came to the house of a man who was eating meat and drinking wine. The Rabbi said to him "Bon Appetit" and then went on his way. The Rabbi's students asked him afterwards - why did you say that to the rich man?

The Rabbi replied that he knew the rich man well and knew that the man's doctors had told him that he could not eat meat. He also knew that the rich man does not drink wine. When he saw the man doing this, he realized that the man was doing this to get back at Hashem. This was a great level of sin because he was not doing it because he was enticed by his yetzer hara. Aware of the repercussions of sinning solely to anger Hashem, the Rabbi said Bon Appetit in an effort to reduce the level of the sin to merely being one of desire.

Similarly, when Pinchas saw Zimri sinning, he knew that there was a difference between him and all the other Jews. The Ben Ish Chai explains that unlike all the other Jews who were involved with the women because they were drunk, Zimri was not drunk. In fact, the Medrash explains that Zimri took Cozby by the hand and asked Moshe - can I be with her. Mosh responded - no, she is from Midyan. Zimri then said to him - why are you different? You are married to a woman from Midyan.

When Pinchas heard this he leapt up to act. He realized that Zimri took Cozby when he was sober and that the act was done to anger Hashem. It was for this reason that Pinchas asked Hashem - how can you destroy the Jews over the act of Zimri and Cozby. Unlike all the other people, Zimri was sober and intentionally took her to anger You!

Pinchas' success is reflected in the second pasuk of the parsha as Hashem says that Pinchas turned away Hashem's anger when he avenged Hashem's vengeance among them. The use of the words among them is curious and the Ben Ish Chai explains that although Pinchas was in the middle of the people when he killed Zimri, no one attacked him because they knew that he was right. Normally when a person sins and other people are sinning at the same time, the person will defend the acts of the others. But here no one stood up to challenge Pinchas because they knew that Zimri had sinned intentionally, while they had been led astray by their desires.

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