Sunday, July 17, 2016

Pinchas 5776

The Torah Portion of Pinchas 

Excerpted and Translated from the the Teachings of Rabbi Gershon Steinberg ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben Chaim ztz"l

Pinchas is called "Eliyahu the angel of the Brit (Covenant or Circumcision) ". It is written in the Holy Zohar, that Eliyahu said to Hashem (in the book of Melachim) that the people of Israel transgressed your Brit (Covenant). Therefore Hashem said to him, because you are accusing Israel, you are required to attend every Brit Mila (Circumcision) . The Ari asks, what kind of a punishment is it that he needs to participate in a Brit? On the contrary it is a great Mitzvah! The explanation is, that he needs to miss out on some of the Chiddushim (new Torah thoughts) in the Heavenly Yeshiva, because occasionally in the middle of the Chiddush (new Torah thought), he needs to go down to participate in a Brit. 

"...And he atoned for the children of Israel." (Bamidbar 25:13) 

It is written in the Midrash, that someone who participates in a Brit Mila (Circumcision) , has all of his sins atoned for. And that is hinted at in the verse: "...And he atoned for the children of Israel" . (Bamidbar 25:13) And so it is brought in the Gemara Pesachim (114) in Tosefot, that everyone who enjoys the festive meal at a Brit Mila (Circumcision) , is saved from the decree of Gehinom.

"...Because he took vengeance for his G-d, and he atoned for the children of Israel." (Bamidbar 25:13) 

It is told that once Maran HaGaon Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ztz"l participated in the Brit Mila (Circumcision) of his grandson, and said, that it is written in the Midrash, that Eliayahu said to Hashem that he is not able to tolerate going to a place where there are transgressors. [As it was stated in "Tana D'vei Eliyaha" , that one time Rav Yehoshua ben Levi was walking with Eliyahu, and Rav Yehoshua ben Levi said that he sensed a bad smell from a dead animal, and wasn't able to tolerate it. Eliyahu said to him, that he doesn't sense any bad smell. After that they went to another place, and Eliyahu told him that he wasn't able to stand there, because there was a bad smell, and he explained that it was because in that place there were transgressors. But Rav Yehoshua ben Levi didn't sense that.] And therefore, Eliyahu told Hashem that he wasn't able to go to Brit Mila ceremonies. Hashem said to Him, I will atone for the transgressions of those who participate in a Brit. And HaGaon Rav Shlomo Zalman asked: Is a Brit Mila (Circumcision) more important than Yom Kippur, about which the Sages said that it atones only by means of Teshuvah (Repentance) ? For that was the Psak (legal decision) of the Rambam (but Rabi reasoned that Yom Kippur atones even without repentance). And HaGaon Rav Shlomo Zalman came up with a Chiddush (new Torah thought), that just as there is a physical air purifier, also there is a spiritual air purifier. The Holy One Blessed Be He said to Eliyahu, I will purify the air from transgressions, and then you will be able to participate in Brit Mila ceremonies without sensing the presence of transgressors. And certainly, Brit Mila ceremonies are a propitious time to get closer to Hashem. And in the aforementioned Brit Mila ceremony, Maran Rav Yechezkel Avramski ztz"l was also a participant, and he commented that in the Midrash there were no distinctions written (regarding how much participating in a Brit Mila atones), but rather it is written that it is Hashem who atones, in any event (whether it is Yom Kippur or a Brit Mila, etc.). And also in the book "Bnei Yissachar" , it is said about the Midrash on the verse "...Because he took vengence for his G-d, and he atoned for the children of Israel" , (Bamidbar 25:13) that Hashem gave power to Pinchas - who is Eliyahu - to atone at every Brit Mila (Circumcision) , for all generations.

"To the chief musician...on the eighth" (Tehillim 6:1)

Rav Eliahu Gutmacher brings in his explanation of Masechet Shabbat on the Chapter "R' Eliezer D'mila" that it is a great Segulah (charm) to say at the time of Brit Milah (circumcision) the sixth Chapter of Tehillim "To the chief musician...on the eighth" (Tehillim 6:1), and to request all that one's heart desires. And he concludes there that this is a wonderful piece of advice.

Why isn't the name of Zimri written at the end of the Torah Portion of Balak?

One of the Gedolim explains, why the name of Zimri isn't written at the end of the Torah Portion of Balak, but only in the Torah Portion of Pinchas.  The reason is that in the Torah Portion of Pinchas, the Holy One Blessed Be He wanted to emphasize how praiseworthy Pinchas is, for in order to do what he did, he had to strengthen himself to kill a person who had the status of being a Prince in Israel, such as Zimri. But the Torah doesn't ever tell us Lashon Hara (derogatory information) for no reason without any useful purpose.

"To Ozni, the family of Ozni" (Bamidbar 26:16)

Rashi says that the family of Ozni is Etzbon, which is mentioned in the Torah Portion of Vayigash. On this the Sages said, that the fingers were given to man, so that if he will hear Lashon Hara (derogatory speech) he should plug up his ears with his fingers. And this is hinted at by the text, "Ozni" is linguistically related to "ozen" (in Engish, "ear" ), and he is from the family of Etzbon, which linguistically related to "eztbaot" (in English, "fingers" ).

"To Puva, the family of Puni" (Bamidbar 26:23)

The Ohr HaChaim says, that "Puva" is linguistically related to "peh" (in English, "mouth" ). The mouth that learns Torah is like a tool for serving Hashem, and one needs to empty it of eating unnecessary food and from speaking forbidden words, because those things prevent the fulfillment of the Torah. And that is why it says "Puva" which is "peh" (in English, "mouth" ), and "Puni" is linguistically related to "P'nui" (in English: "free, vacant, or unoccupied" ), to tell us to empty our mouth of forbidden things (i.e. forbidden speech and food). 

"To Yeitzer, the family of Yitzri, to Shilaim, the the family of Shilaimi" (Bamidbar 26:49)

In the way that a man wants to go, in that direction is he led.  The name "Yeitzer" in Hebrew is linguistically related to the term "Yeitzer Hara" (in English: "The Evil Inclination"), and the name "Shilaim" is linguistically related to "Sh'leimut" (in English: "Perfection").  Thus the message hinted at by this verse is, "To Yeitzer" -- if a man wants to go in the way of the Evil Inclination,  "the family of Yitzri", then he has bad friends.  But "To Shilaim" -- if he wants to perfect himself, "the family of Shilaimi", then he needs to have good friends.  Along the same lines, it is told that someone sent a letter to the "Chazon Ish" and complained about his problems and difficulties.  The Chazon Ish sent a letter to him in reply, and in it was written the Roshei Teivot (initial letters) "Mem Yud Mem Yud".  His intention in writing that was to refer to a phrase (whose words begin with those letters) which is written in the Tractate of Eiduyot 5:47 "Ma'asecha Yirchakucha Ma'asecha Yikravuycha" (In English:  "Your deeds will distance you; your deeds will bring you close").  In the way that a person behaves, in that way he will have what is good for him (i.e., whatever will assist him to go in the direction he wants to go.)

What is the significance of Sh'mini Atzeret after the Chag of Succot?

It is written in Rashi, that the significance of Sh'mini Atzeret after the Chag of Succot, is that the Holy One Blessed Be He says to Israel, "your separation is difficult for me" (i.e., Hashem wants to have this additional holiday because it's difficult for Him to separate from us).   The Teachers of Mussar (Ethics) say, that the reason the Holy One Blessed Be He says "your separation is difficult for me", is that what is difficult for Him is the divisiveness within the people of Israel; we need to be in unity, and then there will be great success. 

The Torah Portion of Pinchas has 168 verses. 6 positive commandments.Haftora (in Israel): "V'yad Hashem" (Melachim Aleph 18)

Pirkei Avot, Chapter 1 (third cycle)

The Hebrew letters that spell the name of the month of Tammuz are: Tav, Mem, Vuv, and Zayin.
These letters are the initial letters of two important messages:
1) "Z'manai T'shuva M'mashmashin U'va'in" (Note: Z'manai starts with Zayin, T'shuva starts with Tav, M'Mashmashin starts with Mem, U'va'in starts with Vuv)
In English that means: "The time for repentance is actualizing and coming."

2) "Z'rizin M'akdimin V'osin T'shuva" (Note: Z'rizin starts with Zayin, M'akdimin starts with Mem, V'osin starts with Vuv, T'shuva starts with Tav)
In English that means: "Alacritous people begin early and repent." 

May you all have a light-filled and happy Shabbat. 
Shabbat Shalom.

L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben R' Chaim ztz"l, Nilkach L'Bait Olamo Yud Gimmel Tishrei 5772

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