May 27, 2024
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פִּינְחָס בֶּן אֶלְעָזָר בֶּן אַהֲרֹן הַכֹּהֵן הֵשִׁיב אֶת חֲמָתִי מֵעַל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּקַנְאוֹ אֶת קִנְאָתִי בְּתוֹכָם וְלֹא כִלִּיתִי אֶת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּקִנְאָתִי.  לָכֵן אֱמֹר הִנְנִי נֹתֵן לוֹ אֶת בְּרִיתִי שָׁלוֹם.  וְהָיְתָה לּוֹ וּלְזַרְעוֹ אַחֲרָיו בְּרִית כְּהֻנַּת עוֹלָם תַּחַת אֲשֶׁר קִנֵּא לֵאלֹקו וַיְכַפֵּר עַל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל.

“Pinchas ben Elazar ben Aharon Hakohen has turned My anger away from Bnei Yisroel by his zealousness in avenging Me among them, so that I did not destroy Bnei Yisroel with My zeal. Therefore, say, ‘I hereby give him My covenant of peace. It shall be for him and for his descendants after him (as) an eternal covenant of kehunah, because he took passionate action for Hashem, atoning for Bnei Yisroel.’”

Zera Shimshon asks: The last phrase that gives the reason for Pinchas’s reward, “tachas asher keenay layloekav—because he took passionate action for Hashem,”—seems to be superfluous. In the previous pasuk, it already mentioned that Pinchas was, “kanow es kinahsi—was zealous in avenging Hashem among them.” Therefore, even without this phrase, we would understand that this is the reason for his reward!

Another question, on the pasuk (pasuk 11), “his zealousness in avenging Me,” Rashi explains: When Pinchas displayed the anger that I should have displayed. If Hashem was meant to display His anger, why didn’t He?

Zera Shimshon explains in light of the Gemara (Sanhedrin 82a) that explains the mishna that says that if a man conducts himself totally immorally with a non-Jewish lady, then kanoim (zealots) are allowed to slay him.

Rav Kehana asked Rav, “What happens if the kanoim do not kill him? What then is his punishment?” Rav answered that Hashem will kill him, and “if he was a talmid chacham—a Torah scholar—he will have no descendants who will be very sharp to ask deep questions, nor who answers difficult questions. If he is a Kohen; he will not have descendants to sacrifice a Mincha to Hashem.”

In other words, a person who acts immorally with a non-Jewish lady but was not killed by a zealot, Hashem will slay him and he will not have descendants who are talmidei chachamim or Kohanim.

According to this, Zera Shimshon answers the two questions: Hashem really did show His anger and decreed the punishment of kares for what Zimri did. However, Hashem doesn’t always immediately bring the punishment, Hashem can wait. This is what happened in the case of Zimri. Pinchas killed Zimri right away, before Hashem did.

Zera Shimshon points out that Pinchas didn’t only execute the wicked person but he also saved Zimri’s children!

How is this? The punishment of having children who will not be talmidei chachamim and not being able to bring a sacrifice that the Gemara mentioned, only applies if the father was slayed by Hashem. However, if the immoral father was killed by the kanoi—the zealous person, then the children are spared and can become talmidei chachamim and if he was a Kohen, his children will be able to bring korbanim.

There are two reasons for this: Firstly, in the Gemara, it is written that Rav derived that he will not have children who are talmidei chachamim or Kohanim from the pasuk (Malachi 2:12), “Yachris Hashem l’ish asher ya’asehnah, air v’ohneh may’ohalay Yaakov u’magashay mincha l’Hashem tzeh’vohkos—And Hashem will cut off the person that does this from the tents of Yaakov; his sharp children and children who can answer questions as well as those that bring a Mincha offering to Hashem.” This pasuk is speaking about a situation where Hashem slayed an immoral person. However, there is no source that if a zealous person slays this person, his children will be punished.

Secondly, it is written in the midrash (Midrash Rabbah Devarim 5:5): Justice carried out in this world, prevents Hashem from having to do justice. Therefore, since someone from this world—the zealot, slayed this immoral person, Hashem will not punish his children.

According to this, the special reward of being a Kohen Gadol that Pinchas received wasn’t just arbitrary but was midah keneged midah (measure for measure)!

It is written in Malachi (2:7), “Key sifsay Kohen yishmahru daas—For the lips of a Kohen guards’ knowledge,” “V’sorah yevakshei mepehu—and men seek words of Torah from his mouth.” In other words, Hashem gives great wisdom to the Kohanim.

Therefore, just like Pinchas enabled Zimri’s children to become talmidei chachamim and bring sacrifices—by slaying Zimri before Hashem punished him—so too, midah keneged midah, Pinchas and his descendants were rewarded to be Kohanim Gedolim, which included bringing sacrifices and becoming talmidei chachamim!

To stress this point, that not only did Pinchas receive the blessing of shalom but also his children were blessed to be Kohanim Gedolim, the Torah repeats the reason for it was, “tachas asher keenay lay’loekav—because he took passionate action for Hashem.”

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