"פינחס בן אלעזר בן אהרן הכהן"
Pinchas, son of Elazar, son of Aharon the Kohen.” (25:11)

QUESTION: Rashi writes, “The tribes were mocking him, ‘This grandson of someone who fattened calves to be sacrificed to idols killed a Prince in Israel.’ Therefore, the Torah draws his lineage to Aharon.” Through his other grandfather, doesn’t he remain the descendant of an idolater, so that the mockery still stands?

ANSWER: Children inherit many of the characteristic traits of their parents and ancestors. According to the Gemara (Yevamot 79a) the Jewish people are known to be merciful, bashful and kind-hearted. On the other hand, many gentiles are vengeful, arrogant, and cruel. The people observing the vengeance with which Pinchas killed Zimri ben Salu, the Prince of the tribe of Shimon, began to accuse him of being a wanton murderer and attributed it to his descent from a family whose grandfather was a non-Jew who fattened calves to be sacrificed to idols.

In order to dispel this notion, the Torah traces his lineage to his other grandfather, Aharon, who was known to be a lover and pursuer of peace so that Pinchas would be applauded for his brave act on Hashem’s behalf of punishing one who practiced rampant immorality.

(מעדני מלך)


"פינחס בן אלעזר בן אהרן הכהן"
“Pinchas son of Elazar, son of Aharon the Kohen.” (25:11)

QUESTION: Our sages write that “Pinchas zeh Eliyahu — “Pinchas is Eliyahu” — since Eliyahu lived generations after Pinchas, the saying should have been “Eliyahu is Pinchas”?

ANSWER: Eliyahu was one of the angels whom Hashem consulted when he said “Na’aseh adam — “Let us create man” (Bereishit 1:26). Afterwards, the angel came to this mundane world clothed in the body of Pinchas and lived over 500 years to become the famous prophet Eliyahu. Consequently, Eliyahu preceded Pinchas by many years.

(מדבר קדמות להחיד"א ועי' לקוטי שיחות ח"ב)

Alternatively, when Pinchas killed Zimri, he also expired (Zohar 219a). At that time, however, he reached a spiritual level which merited him the name “Eliyahu” (a name is a life-force, see Tanya, Shaar Hayichud 1) through which he was enabled to return to earth. He continued, however, to be called by the name “Pinchas,” although in reality “Pinchas zeh Eliyahu” — the person called “Pinchas” now had the life-force of Eliyahu.

(קדושת לוי, ועי' לקוטי שיחות חל"ב ע' 343)

* * *

Incidentally, according to the above it is understood why the Torah never identifies his father and mother. He is never mentioned as Eliyahu son of so and so, but known by the title “Navi,” “Tishbi,” or “Giladi.”

(שו"ת תירוש ויצהר סי' ע"א בשם ר' משה דיליאן ז"ל)

* * *

QUESTION: Why was Pinchas rewarded with longevity?

ANSWER: Hashem’s way of rewarding is midah keneged midah — measure for measure. Thanks to Pinchas’ zealous act, the plague that struck killed only 24,000, and fortunately, Hashem, “did not consume the Children of Israel in My vengeance” (25:11).

Since he brought life to K’lal Yisrael, he was rewarded with long life.

(רבינו בחיי)


"פינחס בן אלעזר בן אהרן הכהן"
“Pinchas, son of Elazar, son of Aharon the Kohen.” (25:11)

QUESTION: In the Torah the name Pinchas is written with a yud (פינחס), and according to the Zohar (237b) Pinchas with a “yud” has the numerical value of two hundred and eight, as does the name of the patriarch Yitzchak (יצחק).

What is the connection between Pinchas and Yitzchak?

ANSWER: The prophet Eliyahu encountered the false prophets of the idol Ba’al and challenged them to prove whose G‑d was the true one. It was agreed that he and they would each prepare an offering, and the one whose offering would be consumed by a fire descending from heaven would be the representative of the authentic G‑d. All their attempts to bring down fire were to no avail. When Eliyahu prayed, “Aneini Hashem aneini” — “Please G‑d answer me” — a fire descended from heaven (see I Kings 18:19-40).

According to the Gemara (Berachot 26b) the three prayers of the day, Shacharit, Minchah, and Maariv were originated by the patriarchs, Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov respectively, and the Gemara (ibid. 6b) says that one should be very careful with praying the Minchah services since Eliyahu’s prayers were answered during the afternoon prayer of Minchah.

Consequently, his name is written with a “yud,” indicating the parallel between him and Yitzchak, hinting that Pinchas who is Eliyahu, would be answered in his confrontation with the false prophets when he would recite Yitzchak’s prayer — Minchah.

(פרדס יוסף החדש)


"פינחס בן אלעזר בן אהרן הכהן השיב את חמתי מעל בני ישראל"
“Pinchas, son of Elazar, son of Aharon the Kohen, turned back My wrath from upon the Children of Israel.” (25:11)

QUESTION: Instead of saying “heishiv” — “turned back” — it should have said “bateil” — “nullified”?

ANSWER: King David says, “Pinchas arose and executed judgment and the plague was halted. It was counted to him litzedakah — as a righteous deed — for all generations, forever” (Psalms 106:30-31). What does the act of Pinchas have to do with tzedakah?

According to Torah law every Jew is obligated to give annuallymachatzit hashekel — a half-shekel — for the purchase of Karbonot Tzibur — communal offerings (Shemot 30:15 Rashi). The word “machatzit” (מחצית) consists of five letters, the middle one being a "צ", the first letter of the word “tzedakah” (צדקה). Immediately flanking the "צ" are a "ח" and a "י", which spell “chai” (חי) — “life” — and at the outer ends are the letters"מ" and "ת", which spell the word “meit” (מת) — “death.” Thus, the word machatzit alludes that through tzedakah one is attached to life and distanced from death. As king Shlomo said, “utzedakah tatzil mimavet” — “charity saves from death” (Proverbs 10:2).

Pinchas through his zealousness removed the plague from the Children of Israel, thus committing an act of tzedakah whereby life was reaffirmed and death was excluded from the community.

In the word “chamati” (חמתי) — “My wrath” — it is the reverse. The middle letters are a "מ" and a "ת", which spell “meit” — “dead” — and the outer letters are a"ח" and a "י", which spell “life.” Hashem was saying that Pinchas “heishiv et chamati” — “inverted the word ‘chamati’ — expelling death and bringing in life.

(הגר"א)


"בקנאו את קנאתי בתוכם"
“When he zealously avenged My vengeance among them.” (25:11)

QUESTION: The word “betocham” — “among them” — seems superfluous?

ANSWER: Often when a zealot witnesses wrongdoing, he organizes a support group around him and instigates them to detach themselves from the violators and create their own community. Thus, a split occurs and the community becomes fragmented.

When Pinchas saw the shameless immorality and impudence of Zimri, he realized that drastic action was necessary. In lieu of splitting the community, he acted zealously and at the same time he remained “betocham” — part and parcel of the entire community. He did not create a break-away group consisting of the pious, but kept the community intact and uprooted Zimri and his companion from among them.

Thus, the important teaching is to always strive for community unity, and in attempting to correct a situation, one should also work from “within,” motivated with Ahavat Yisrael.

(ר' פנחס זצ"ל מקוריץ)

Alternatively, in reality every Jew was terribly upset with Zimri and the rampant immorality. They were all filled with anger and convinced that something drastic must be done. With the extra word “betocham” the Torah is attesting that it was not only Pinchas who acted zealously, with the others not emotionally involved, but that on the contrary, what he did was really “betocham” — in the heart of each and every G‑d-fearing and right-thinking member of K’lal Yisrael.

(חתם סופר)


"בקנאו את קנאתי בתוכם...הנני נתן לו את בריתי שלום"
“When he zealously avenged My vengeance among them...Behold! I give him My covenant of peace.” (25:11-12)

QUESTION: Superficially, both Pinchas and Korach were zealots. They both saw something that they considered wrong and took drastic action. Why was Pinchas so handsomely rewarded and Korach so severely punished?

ANSWER: The major difference between them was not in what they did, but how they did it. Of Pinchas the Torah attests that whatever he did was “betocham” — “among them.” He remained within the community and did not harm community unity in any way. About Korach the Torah writes, “vayikach Korach” — “Korach took” — and Onkelos translates “ve’itpeleig Korach,” which means that Korach separated himself.

Thus, for Korach’s endeavors to separate himself and divisively create a following of his own, he was severely punished, though he may have been motivated by a spirit of zealousness.

(שמעתי מהרב רפאל ז"ל שטיין)


"בקנאו את קנאתי בתוכם...הנני נתן לו את בריתי שלום"
“When he zealously avenged My vengeance among them... Behold! I give him My Covenant of Peace.” (25:11-12)

QUESTION: What is the connection between zealous vengeance and peace?

ANSWER: A Jewish leader, on one hand, must be zealous and fight vehemently against those who threaten the continuity of Torah or who try to deface and demoralize the Jewish people. On the other hand, when necessary, he must be the “lover and pursuer of peace” and make every endeavor to promote harmony, and unity. A Jewish leader must embody these two contrasting character traits and exercise them when necessary.

Consequently, when Hashem witnessed that Pinchas excelled in kana’ut — zealous vengeance — and acted with alacrity to destroy the people who attempted to infiltrate the Jewish community with immorality, He said, “I will give him briti shalom — My Covenant of Peace — i.e. bless him with the ability to make peace, and thus, he will be an accomplished leader in Israel.”

* * *

According to our sages, Pinchas was the prophet Eliyahu. What is the connection between them?

Eliyahu was one of the outstanding zealots in history. He protested vehemently against the false prophets of Ba’al, and challenged them to a confrontation on Mount Carmel. After successfully proving their falsehood he slaughtered them (see I Kings 18). On the other hand, the last Mishnah of Eiduyot says that one of the functions of Eliyahu when he comes to announce the revelation of Mashiach will be “la’asot shalom be’olam" — “to make peace in the world” — and unite the Jewish people. Thus, upon receiving Hashem’s blessing of peace, Pinchas embodied the two contrasting character traits which would be demonstrated by the great prophet Eliyahu.

* * *

Prior to Eliyahu’s ascent to heaven in a fiery chariot, his dedicated disciple and successor Elisha asked “Vehi na pi shenayim beruchacha eilai” — “May my power of prophecy be double that of yours” (II Kings2:9). Isn’t it audacious for a student to speak this way to his teacher?

Elisha realized that he would have to succeed his beloved teacher as the prophet and leader of the Jewish people. He admired immensely the dual character traits of his teacher, Eliyahu, and realized that they were a prerequisite for a leader. Therefore, with the utmost humility he begged his teacher to bless him that the “pi shenayim beruchacha” — “the double spirit” — i.e. the capability to be a zealot and also a peace-maker which he so exemplified — be bestowed “eilai” — “upon me.”

(ילקוט מרגליות)


"הנני נותן לו את בריתי שלום"
“Behold! I give him My covenant of peace.” (25:12)

Question: What is the “covenant of peace”?

Answer: When Hashem asked Moshe to go to Egypt and redeem the Jewish People, Moshe pleaded “Please send the one whom you will eventually send” (Shemot 4:13). The Targum Yonatan ben Uziel explains that Moshe was saying to Hashem, “Please send Pinchas, who is destined to be Eliyahu, and inform the Jewish People of the coming of Mashiach.” (This is a source for the famous statement that Pinchas is Eliyahu).

The word “shalom” (שלום) has the numerical value of 376 which is the same numerical value as the words “zehu Mashiach” (זהו משיח) — “this is Mashiach.” The Rambam (Melachim 12:5) writes that in those days [of Mashiach] there will be no hunger, jealousy or competition.

Hence, Hashem was alluding that Pinchas will be Eliyahu who will announce the coming of Mashiach, and that the Jewish people will then enter an era in which they will experience the highest degree of shalom.

(בעל הטורים)


"הנני נותן לו את בריתי שלום"
“Behold! give him My covenant of peace. (25:12)

QUESTION: Why in a Torah scroll is the foot of the "ו" in the word “shalom” split?

ANSWER: The name of Eliyahu is written five times in the Torah without its usual "ו" (אליה) while the name of Yaakov is written five times with an extra "ו" (יעקוב). Rashi explains that Yaakov took the "ו" from Eliyahu as a pledge that he will herald the coming of Mashiach to the Jewish People (Vayikra 26:42).

Therefore, the "ו" is incomplete to allude that as long as Pinchas — Eliyahu — does not reveal the coming of Mashiach, the Jewish people have no real peace and the "ו" taken by Yaakov will not be returned.

(בעל הטורים)

In Psalms 14:7, King David says, “When Hashem returns the captivity of His nation, yagail Yaakov yismach YisraelJacob will exult, Israel will rejoice.” The word “yismach” (ישמח) can be rearranged to spell “Mashiach” (משיח). In David’s statement, Yaakov’s name is spelled without a "ו" because at the time when Yismach — Mashiach — will reveal himself to Yisrael — the Jewish people — Yaakov will happily give up the "ו" he held as a pledge and return it to Eliyahu.

(בעל הטורים)


"לכן אמר הנני נתן לו את בריתי שלם והיתה לו ולזרעו אחריו ברית כהנת עולם תחת אשר קנא לאלקיו ויכפר על בני ישראל"
“Therefore, say: ‘Behold! I give him My covenant of peace.’ And it shall be for him and his offspring after him, a covenant of eternal priesthood, because he took vengeance for his G‑d, and he atoned for the Children of Israel.” (25:12,13)

QUESTION: Why did Pinchas receive such a reward?

ANSWER: Pinchas executed Zimri and Cozbi without first consulting Moshe. He took the law in his own hands and acted on the spur of the moment. With Moshe present, he was in the category of “moreh halachah bifnei rabbo” — “One who decides a halachic question on his own in the presence of his teacher.” Our sages (Eruvin 63a) have spoken out very strongly against such conduct and identify three punishments for it: 1) The person is demoted from a position of authority. 2) He dies without children surviving him. 3) He is bitten by a snake.

Since people might have thought that Pinchas sinned and would ultimately be punished, Hashem emphasized that the opposite would be the case.

1) Because he sanctified Hashem’s name, he would not be demoted, but rather elevated, receiving brit kehunat olam” — “a Covenant of Eternal Priesthood.”

2) He would not, G‑d forbid, die without children, but on the contrary, “vehayatah lo ulezaro acharov” — “it shall be for him and his offspring after him.”

3) He would not be attacked by a snake or any other animal, but on the contrary, “I am giving him briti shalom — My Covenant of Peace.” When the Torah promises shalom, as in Vayikra (26:6)“venatati shalom ba’aretz” — “I will provide peace in the land” — it clarifies that “vehishbati chayah ra’ah min ha’aretz” — “I will rid the land of vicious animals.”

(פרח לבנון)


"והיתה לו ולזרעו אחריו ברית כהנת עולם"
“And it shall be for him and his offspring after him a covenant of eternal priesthood.” (25:13)

QUESTION: Some say that Pinchas became a Kohen only after he killed Zimri, and others hold that at the time he was an ordinary Kohen and afterwards he was awarded Kehunah Gedolah (See 25:13 Rashi, and Zevachim 111b).

According to halachah (Rambam, Tefilah 15:3) a Kohen who kills someone, even unintentionally, is disqualified to give the Priestly Blessing (and may not perform the service in the Sanctuary, see Tosafot Yom Tov, Bechorot 7:7). If so, according to the opinion that he was already a Kohen, how was Pinchas permitted to be Kohen Gadol?

ANSWER: According to the Zohar (217a), when Pinchas killed Zimri, his soul departed and Hashem revived him by placing the souls of Nadav and Avihu in him. Thus, when he became a Kohen Gadol he was a new person and the fact that in a previous lifetime he had been a Kohen and had killed someone did not have any bearing on his current status.

(פרדס יוסף החדש)


"ובני קרח לא מתו"
“But the sons of Korach did not die.” (26:11)

QUESTION: Rashi explains that “Korach’s sons initially were together with him in planning the insurrection; however, in the midst of the confrontation they repented in their hearts. Therefore, a place was set for them up high in Geihinom where they sat [and recited songs to Hashem for their salvation]” (see Sanhedrin 110a).

1) How does this correspond with the Torah’s statement “The earth opened its mouth and swallowed...all the people who were with Korach” (16:32)? 2) If they were miraculously spared in merit of their righteousness, they should have not been sent to any place in Geihinom at all? 3) Why is this pasuk in Parshat Pinchas and not in Parshat Korach?

ANSWER: When Korach was swallowed by the earth, his sons were swallowed too. However, Korach’s fate was permanent and theirs was only temporary. While being removed from the eyes of the world, they remained alive and sang praises to Hashem. Afterwards, they emerged alive, and the prophet Shmuel was one of their descendants.

While it was meritorious for them to do teshuvah and detach themselves from their father’s mischievous ways, they were still deficient, because they repented only in their hearts, not publicly in word or deed. Therefore, they deserved punishment and were swallowed in.

The reason for this unique form of punishment was that Hashem’s punishments are “measure for measure.” It appeared to the people who witnessed the uprising that they were together with their father in his war against Moshe, and no one knew that they repented in their hearts. Therefore, the people saw that they were swallowed up together with Korach’s contingent, but while in the ground they were rewarded for their internal repentance.

Ultimately, when the members of the congregation who lived during Korach’s dispute passed away, the sons of Korach emerged on the surface of the earth alive (see 20:22, Rashi). Hence, the pasuk, “The sons of Korach did not die” is not in Parshat Korach but in Parshat Pinchas, since at the time of Korach’s rebellion they were thought to have died, and only subsequently returned to life.

(לקוטי שיחות חל"ג)


"בני יששכר למשפחתם ... לישוב משפחת הישובי"
“The family of Yissachar according to their families ... of Yashuv the Jashubite family” (26:23-24)

QUESTION: When the sons of Yissachar who came to Egypt are enumerated, Yashuv is listed as “Yov” (יוב) (Bereishit 46:13). Why was his name changed to “Yashuv”?

ANSWER: When the Jews arrived in Egypt, Yov became aware that the Egyptians had an idol called “Yov.” He complained about this to his father, and as an appeasement Yissachar gave him a "ש" from his name which changed his name to “Yashuv.”

(חזקוני)

QUESTION: Why was the appeasement necessarily with the letter "ש" and not any other letters from his name?

ANSWER: The Beit Yosef (Orach Chaim 32) writes that the reason for a "ש" on the head Tefillin is that a "ש" has the numerical value of 300 and according to the alef-beit known as א-ת, ב-ש (in which the "א" is exchanged with the "ת" and the "ב" with the “ש" etc.), the holy Name of Hashem י-ה-ו-ה numerically values 300. (The "י" becomes a "מ", the "ה" becomes a "צ", and the "ו" becomes a "פ". Thus י-ה-ו-ה becomes מ-צ-פ-צ.)

The Gemara (Berachot 6a) explains the pasuk “All the peoples of the earth will see that the name of G‑d is proclaimed upon you and they will fear you” as a reference to the Tefillin of the head. Therefore we put a "ש" on the sides of the Tefillin of the head because of its equivalence to the Tetragrammaton.

Since Yov complained to his father for giving him a name which is name of an idol, he appeased him by giving him a "ש" from his name because of its equivalence to Hashem’s holy name.

(פרדס יוסף החדש)


"בני יששכר..."
“The family of Yissachar...” (26:23)

QUESTION: Should “Yissachar” be pronounced with a single "ש" or a double?

ANSWER: There are varying customs whether to read the name “Yissachar” with a double "ש" or one "ש".

Some read it with a double "ש" until Yashuv’s name is mentioned in this parshah, afterwards reading Yissachar with one "ש".

(תורה שלימה, בראשית ל' י"ח)

Others have a custom to read it with a double "ש" only the first time he is mentioned in the Torah (Bereishit 30:18), reading it from then on with only one "ש".

(חתם סופר - תורת משה פ' ויצא)

The custom of Chabad is to always read it with one "ש". The reason is that Yisachar represents Torah (see Midrash Rabbah 13:15,16), which consists of two parts — revealed and hidden (esoteric). The two shins in his name correspond to the two parts of Torah. Consequently, the "ש" for the revealed part of Torah is read aloud, but the "ש" for the hidden part of Torah is kept silent.

(תורת מנחם תשי"ב ש"פ ויצא בשם אביו זצ"ל, ועי' דעת זקנים מבעלי התוס' פ' ויצא)

There is yet another custom, to always read it with a double "ש". Followers of this custom find a remez (hint) for this in the words “Yisacheir pi dovrei shaker” — “The mouth of those who speak falsehood should be closed up” (Psalms 63:12) — which they explain to mean that reading “yisachar” with only one "ש" is the “mouth of those who speak falsehood.”

(היכל ברכה - קומרנא)


"ושם אשת עמרם יוכבד בת לוי אשר ילדה אתה ללוי במצרים"
“The name of Amram’s wife was Yocheved, daughter of Levi, who was born (lit. “who gave her birth”) to Levi in Egypt.” (26:59)

QUESTION: The word “otah” — “her” — seems superfluous? Moreover, it should have said“noldah” — “was born” — instead of “yaldah” which means “gave birth”?

ANSWER: According to Rashi this is an abbreviated pasuk which is missing the word “ishto” — “his wife.” The pasuk is saying, “The name of Amram’s wife was Yocheved daughter of Levi, to whom [his wife, i.e. Levi’s wife] gave birth, to Levi in Egypt.”

In the opinion of Da’at Zekeinim, the name of Levi’s wife was “Otah,” and it was she who bore to Levi his daughter Yocheved. According to this, the pasuk reads “...whom Otah bore to Levi in Egypt.”

Though some hold that the name of Levi’s wife was Adinah (Sefer Hayashar, Parshat Vayeishev), it is not a contradiction to the above, because he may have had two wives. Adinah gave birth to his sons, Gershon, Kehat, and Merrari, and Otah bore him his daughter Yocheved, who married Amram. Thus, though Amram was the son of Kehat, Yocheved was his aunt only paternally.

(נחלי אמונה, ועי' הכתב והקבלה וספר הישר פ' וישב ומס' סנהדרין נ"ח ע"ב)


"אבינו מת במדבר והוא לא היה ... בעדת קרח כי בחטאו מת ובנים לא היו לו"
“Our father died in the wilderness and was not ... in the assembly of Korach, but he died for his own sin and he had no sons.” (27:3)

QUESTION: Their question was whether they inherit their father’s share in Eretz Yisrael. Why was it necessary to mention the cause of his death?

ANSWER: According to halachah, when someone is sentenced to death for moreid bemalchut — rebelling against the jurisdiction of a king — his assets become government property. If he is executed for simply violating a law, then his assets remain with his family (See Rambam, Aveilut 8:9).

The daughters of Tzelafchad were very wise (see Bava Batra 119b) and therefore they intentionally preceded their question with the fact that their father died for his own sin and was not affiliated with Korach. Since Moshe was a king (Rambam, Beit HaBechirah 6:11), should Tzelafchad have died for being a member of Korach’s group who rebelled against Moshe, he would have then been considered a moreid bemalchut, and they would have lost all claims to his inheritance.

(משך חכמה)


"אבינו מת במדבר והוא לא היה ... בעדת קרח כי בחטאו מת ובנים לא היו לו ... ויקרב משה את משפטן לפני ה'"
“‘Our father died in the wilderness and was not ... in the assembly of Korach, but he died for his own sin and he had no son’... and Moshe brought their claim before G‑d.” (27:3,5)

QUESTION: Why didn’t Moshe answer them on his own?

ANSWER: A judge has to be careful not to accept a bribe in any form. The Torah says that “bribery blinds the eyes of the wise” (Devarim 16:19), i.e. judges can lose their neutrality.

Moshe was indeed able to answer them on his own. However, as soon as they injected that their father was not among Korach’s contingent, Moshe suddenly felt the tint of a bribe and therefore removed himself from the case and turned to Hashem for His decision.

(של"ה)


"אשר יצא לפניהם ואשר יבא לפניהם...ולא תהיה עדת ה' כצאן אשר אין להם רעה"
“Who shall go out before them and come in before them...and let the assembly of G‑d not be like sheep that have no shepherd.” (27:17)

QUESTION: Why is it necessary to give the analogy of sheep without a shepherd? Suffice it to say, “The congregation will have a shepherd.”

ANSWER: When a shepherd takes his sheep to pasture, the sheep run ahead and he walks behind them with a stick. He does this to keep the herd together and so that if they are attacked, it will be easier for him to flee and save his own life. Thus, a herd of sheep in the pasture can appear to lack a shepherd.

Moshe prayed to Hashem to appoint a leader for the Jewish people, one who would not walk behind them and keep a low profile, but one who would take the initiative and give direction, a leader, in short, who would always be a trailblazer for the people to follow.

(כתב סופר)


"ונתתה מהודך עליו למען ישמעו כל עדת בני ישראל"
“You shall place some of your majesty upon him, so that the entire assembly of Israel will pay heed.” (27:20)

QUESTION: The Gemara (Bava Batra 75a) says that the elders of the generation said, “The countenance of Moshe was like that of the sun, while Yehoshua’s was like the moon. Woe because of that shame, woe because of that embarrassment.” Why were the elders the ones who said this?

ANSWER: Not only was there an age difference between Moshe and Yehoshua, but Moshe attained much greater spiritual heights than Yehoshua. Some people thought that Yehoshua was intrinsically as great as Moshe and that his apparently lesser stature was merely due to his relative youth. Therefore, the elders of the generation, who remembered Moshe as a young man, were able to compare him to Yehoshua and said that indeed, even at Yehoshua’s age, Moshe was on a much higher level, and that the difference between them was like the difference between the moon and the sun.

They proclaimed, “Woe because of that shame. Woe because of that embarrassment,” since it was a great humiliation for them to witness the decline in the spiritual levels of the leaders of the generations.

(קול אליהו)

* * *

A reason for the analogy to sun and moon is that it is possible to look directly at the moon, but impossible to look at the sun. Thus, they compared Moshe’s countenance to the sun because “The skin of his face had become radiant and they feared to approach him” (Shemot 34:30).


"כבשים בני שנה תמימם שנים ליום עלה תמיד"
“Male lambs in their first year, unblemished, two a day, as an olah tamid — continual elevation.” (28:3)

QUESTION: Since it is talking of two lambs, instead of “olah” in singular, it should read in plural olot tamid”?

ANSWER: When Hashem completed the first day of creation it is written, “Vayehi erev vayehi boker yom echad — “It was evening and it was morning, one day.” It says “yom echad” — “one day” — and not “yom rishon” — “the first day” — to dispel the erroneous conception that since night and day are opposites, they were created by different gods. Therefore, the Torah states“yom echad” to indicate that all phases of a 24-hour day were created by the One and Only G‑d.

On the pasuk which says of Jerusalem that “Tzedek yalin bah” — “Righteousness lodged in it” (Isaiah 1:21) — the Midrash Rabbah (Bamidbar 21:21) says that a person would not sleep over in Jerusalem without being rid of his sins: The morning continual-offering forgave the sins of the night, and the afternoon continual-offering forgave the sins of the day.

In order that some may not conclude that the forgiveness of the morning and afternoon continual-offerings are, G‑d forbid, by different gods and divine powers, it is written in singular “olah tamid” that they are both a continual-offering to the One and Only G‑d.

(כלי יקר)

* * *

The sun rises in the east and sets in the west; therefore, the morning continual-offering was slaughtered on the northwest side of the altar (see Tamid 30b) since it atoned for the sins committed when the sun was down (night), and the afternoon one was slaughtered on the northeast because it atoned for the sins committed during the time the sun was risen (day).

(כלי יקר)


"את הכבש אחד תעשה בבקר ואת הכבש השני תעשה בין הערבים"

“The one lamb shall you make in the morning and the second lamb shall you make in the afternoon.” (28:4)

QUESTION: The karban tamid — daily continual-offering — is first mentioned in Parshat Tetzaveh (Shemot 29:39). Why does it say there “et hakeves ha’echad” — “the lamb, the one” — while here it merely says “et hakeves echad,” without the designative "ה"?

ANSWER: InParshat Tetzaveh the commandment to offer a daily continual-offering was given as a part of the inauguration of the altar, and in our parshah, it is repeated as a commandment for its daily performance (see Rashi).

While the offering consisted of two lambs daily, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, they were not dependent on one another, i.e. omitting the morning one had no effect on the afternoon one. An exception to this is the continual-offering for the inauguration of the altar. The altar could be inaugurated only with the morning sacrifice, and if it was not offered in time, it was necessary to wait till the next day and first bring the morning lamb offering (See Rambam, Temidim Umusafim 1:12).

Consequently in Parshat Tetzaveh, it is written “ha’echad,” — with the designative "ה", because for the inauguration of the altar the morning one must be brought first, and there is no provision to bring the second (afternoon) one, without previously bringing the first. However, since in the normal daily service the afternoon offering, the second one, can be brought even if the morning one, the first one, was not offered, it does not state “ha’echad,” which would mean “the first,” because the morning one is not a prerequisite in order for the afternoon sacrifice, and even if it was not brought, the second (afternoon) can still be offered. Thus, it is merely “echad, — “one” (for the morning offering).

(פרדס יוסף החדש בשם הגרי"ז ז"ל מבריסק)

* * *

In both the morning and afternoon offerings nine kohanim were involved (see Tamid 31b), for a total of eighteen. This is alluded to with the extra "ה" in the word “ha’echad” ((האחד which causes the word to have the numerical value of eighteen.

With the above it is understood why the allusion to eighteen kohanimha’echad — is written in Parshat Tetzaveh, while here it only says “echad.” In the permanent daily offering it is possible that on a given day only the afternoon one will be brought and thus, only a total of nine kohanim will be involved. However, when the altar is inaugurated, the morning one must be ha’echad — the one offered first, and thus there will be a total of eighteen kohanim.

(עי' טעמי מסורות המקרא לר"י החסיד ז"ל)


"עלת תמיד העשיה בהר סיני לריח ניחח אשה לה'"
“It is the continual elevation-offering that was done at Mount Sinai, for a satisfying aroma, a fire-offering to Hashem.” (28:6)

QUESTION: What is the connection between the daily offering of a lamb and Mount Sinai?

ANSWER: The Gemara (Pesachim 57a) relates that once a king and queen of the Hasmonean family were discussing which meat is tastier, lamb or goat. They decided to ask the Kohen Gadol, who would most probably know since he was offering sacrifices continuously. They consulted the High Priest Yissachar of the village of Barkai, who gestured contemptuously with his hand as if to say, “If goat is better, why isn’t it used for the daily sacrifice?”

Why, actually, was the lamb chosen over the goat as a daily sacrifice?

The explanation may be the following: According to halachah, an animal is considered fully born once the entire head emerges. If only part of the head emerges, it is still considered unborn, and if it is a firstborn it is permissible to blemish it to avoid having to give it to the Kohen. In the Gemara (Bechorot 35a) Rava says that a goat has very long ears and as his head emerges the ears are seen first and it is permissible to blemish it before the entire head emerges. When a lamb is born, its lips are seen first and therefore it is also permissible to blemish them. However, the ears are small and are not seen until the entire head emerges.

When Hashem offered the Jewish people the Torah they immediately responded “Na’aseh ve’nishmah” — “We will do and we will listen.” The Gemara (Shabbat 88a) relates that a heretic once said to Rava, “You are an impulsive people. You put your mouth before your ears.”

Rava replied, “We are a trustworthy people of whom it says, ‘The integrity of the upright shall guide them’ and of corrupt people it says, ‘The perverseness of the transgressors shall destroy them’ ” (Proverbs 11:3).

The pasuk connects the continual-offering of a lamb with Mount Sinai to indicate that since the lamb’s lips emerge before its ears; therefore, it has been selected as the daily continual-offering to emphasize the praise of the Jewish people, who at Mount Sinai put their mouth before their ears.

(מנחת יצחק)


"ושעיר עזים אחד לחטאת לה'"
“[On Rosh Chodesh bring] one he-goat for a sin-offering to G‑d.” (28:15)

QUESTION: Rashi writes that Hashem requested, “Bring an atonement for Me because I have made the moon small.”

Why do we have to bring an atonement because Hashem made the moon smaller?

ANSWER: When the sun and moon were originally created, they were of equal size and strength. The sun was appointed to rule over the day and the moon over the night. The moon came before Hashem and argued that it is improper for two kings to have an identical crown. In response, Hashem diminished the moon (Bereishit 1:16, Rashi).

Why did Hashem diminish the moon? In reality, Hashem had another alternative: to leave the moon as it was and to enlarge the sun. He did not do it this way, because after Hashem created the world He decided that the wicked were not worthy of enjoying the original intense illumination of the sun and He stored it away for tzaddikim to enjoy in the future (Chagigah 12a). Therefore, He had no alternative but to diminish the moon.

Thus, human misdeeds necessitated Hashem’s decision to diminish the moon, and humans must bring an atonement “for Hashem.”

(לחמי תודה)


"ובחמשה עשר יום לחדש השביעי...פרים בני בקר שלשה עשר אילם שנים כבשים בני שנה ארבעה עשר ... ושעיר עזים אחד חטאת מלבד עלת התמיד."
“On the fifteenth day of the seventh month...thirteen young bulls, two rams, fourteen male lambs in their first year ... one male goat for a sin-offering, aside from the continual-offering.” (29:12,13,16)

QUESTION: Why besides the daily continual-offerings and the one he-goat as sin-offering which were offered on every holiday, were there an additional one hundred and eighty-two offerings in honor of Sukkot? (Seventy bulls, fourteen rams, and ninety-eight lambs.)

ANSWER: In the Tur, Orach Chaim (417), the Beit Yosef writes in the name of his brother Rabbi Yehudah, that the three festivals Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot correspond to the patriarchs Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov.

When the angels visited Avraham, he told Sarah, “Hurry! Three se’ahs of meal, fine flour! Knead it and make cakes!” (Bereishit 18:6). The visit took place on Pesach (see Rashi, ibid. 18:10), and the cakes she baked were actually matzot. Since it was Pesach, he wanted her to prepare the dough herself to guard against leavening (Alshich). Shavuot commemorates the giving of the Torah and corresponds to Yitzchak because it was heralded by the blast of the shofar, which came from the ram which was offered in his stead (Pirkei D’Rebbe Eliezer, 31). Sukkot is for Yaakov, as the pasuk says, “Yaakov journeyed to Sukkot and built himself a house and for his livestock he made shelters, he therefore called the name of the place ‘Sukkot’ ” (ibid. 33:12).

The name “Yaakov” (יעקב) has the numerical value of one hundred and eighty-two. Since Sukkot is in his honor, one hundred and eighty-two sacrifices were offered.

(פרדס יוסף החדש)


"ובחמשה עשר יום לחדש השביעי...ושעיר עזים אחד חטאת"
“On the fifteenth day of the seventh month... and one he-goat for a sin-offering.” (29:12,16)

QUESTION: Why for the first, second, and fourth days of Sukkot does it state: “Use’ir izim echad chatat” while for the other days it merely says: “Use’ir chatat echad”?

ANSWER: During the seven days of the festival of Sukkot a total of 70 bullocks were offered as sacrifices, corresponding to the 70 nations of the world (Sukkah 55b). Yishmael and Eisav were the major powers of the world, and according to the Zohar, the 70 nations are their affiliates.

In Kabbalistic teachings Yishmael is referred to as a “se’ir izim” while Eisav is referred to as “se’ir” (see Bereishit 27:11 and Joshua 24:4). Therefore, on the first, second and fourth days, when a total of 35 bullocks were offered, the Torah uses the expression “se’ir izim” to represent Yishmael. The total number of bullocks offered on the other four days was also 35. Since they corresponded to Eisav, the term “se’ir” and not “se’ir izim” is used.

(קול אליהו)


"ומנחתם ונסכיהם"
“And their meal-offerings and their libations.” (29:18)

QUESTION: According to the Gemara (Ta’anit 2b) there were water libations on the altar during the Sukkot festival which are alluded to in the portion discussing the Sukkot offering through three extra letters which spell "מים" — “water.”

1) On the second day, it is written “veniskeihem” (ונסכיהם) — “their libations,” in plural. The "ם" is superfluous since for plural it could have said “unesachehah” (ונסכיה).

2) On all the other days it is written “veniskah” — “its libation” — in singular (ונסכה). Only on the sixth day does it say “unesachehah” — “its libations” — in plural with an added "י" (וּנְסָכֶיהָ).

3) Each day it says “kamishpat” (כמשפט) — “as required” — except that on the seventh day it says “kemishpatam” (כמשפטם) — “in their requirements” — containing a superfluous ."ם"

Why were there water libations during the festival of Sukkot?

ANSWER: According to some opinions, the Akeidah took place on Yom Kippur. (See Rakanti and Vayikra Rabbah 29:9.) From Avraham’s home to the land of Moriah was a three-day journey (Bereishit 22:4); thus, Avraham returned from the Akeidah on the 13th day of Tishrei. On that day he was informed of Sarah’s passing and Rivkah’s birth.

Three years later, Avraham directed his faithful servant Eliezer to seek a suitable wife for Yitzchak. Eliezer arrived in the city of Aram Naharayim and planned to test the girls of the city. The one whom he would ask for a drink of water and who would also offer water for his camels would definitely be good-natured and suitable to marry Yitzchak.

The day Eliezer arrived, he engaged Rivkah to be the wife of Yitzchak, and at that time she was three years and three days old (Mesechta Sofrim 21:9). Thus, this episode took place on the fifteenth of Tishrei, the first day of Sukkot.

To commemorate the marriage of Yitzchak, which resulted through an act of kindness performed with water, there are water libations on the altar during the festival of Sukkot.

(הקדמת בן המחבר "ידי משה" על מדרש רבה)

* * *

When Eliezer met with Rivkah’s family he told them “I came today to the spring” (Bereishit 24:42). The Gemara (Sanhedrin 95a) says that he was telling them that although the trip should have taken seventeen days, the earth contracted enabling him to come from Be’er Sheva to Aram Naharayim in less than one day.

Why was it necessary for him to tell them this?

According to halachah there are limits to how much one may walk on Shabbat and Yom Tov from the outskirts of a city. Exempted from this restriction is a case in which the earth contracts (see Eiruvin 43a).

Since Eliezer arrived on Sukkot, in order to avoid suspicion for violating halachah he told them that the earth contracted, facilitating his journey.

(פרדס יוסף, ויקרא כ"ג, מ')


"ביום השמיני עצרת תהיה לכם"
“The eighth day shall be a restriction for you.” (29:35)

QUESTION: After celebrating Sukkot for eight days, Hashem added Shemini Atzeret because “kasheh alai peridatchem” — “your going away (lit. ‘separation’) is difficult for me” (Rashi).

It should have said “kasheh alai peridateinu”“Our parting is difficult for me”?

ANSWER: On a holiday people are relaxed, in good spirits and in harmony one with another. When Jews are united and live in peace, Hashem takes delight in His people. During the week, however, when people are involved in the hustle of their day-to-day life, they often come into conflict.

After observing the Jewish people celebrating eight days of harmonious living, Hashem added another day saying: “Kasheh alai peridatchem — It is difficult for me to see the separation and disunity among you when you are busy with your weekday business. Therefore, let us have one more day of Yom Tov.”

(פון אונזער אלטען אוצר)

* * *

The Gemara (Shabbat 31a) relates that a gentile came to the great sage Hillel asking to be converted on the condition that he teach him the entire Torah while he stood “al regal achat” — “on one foot.” Hillel responded, “That which you do not want done unto you, do not do unto others — this is the entire Torah.”

Why did the gentile make such a strange condition?

In Torah, theholidays are called “regalim” (Shemot 23:14) because of the mitzvah of making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem by foot. (See Rabbeinu Bachya andChagigah 3a.) The Gemara (Sukkah 47a) says about Shemini Atzeret that it is “Regel bifnei atzmo” — “a separate holiday” — independent of Sukkot.

The gentile, before deciding to convert, studied Torah and was quite familiar with ourholidays, traditions, etc. After comprehending the beauty of Torah, he made his decision to convert. One thing however bothered him: what is the significance of the “regel” — “holiday” — of Shemini Atzeret? He knew the reason for celebrating Pesach, Shavuot, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot, but saw no rationale forShemini Atzeret.

Consequently, he said to Hillel metaphorically, “I am prepared to convert, but first you must clear up an enigma bothering me. Teach me all there is to know about ‘regel achat’ — ‘theholiday of Shemini Atzeret’ — which I am trying to ‘stand on,’ i.e. understand, but for which the Torah does not give any reason.”

Hillel replied that Shemini Atzeret was given to the Jews because Hashem said, “Kasheh alai peridatchem.” Simply explained, this means that Hashem is distressed by the leave-taking between Him and the Jewish people after Sukkot. However, precisely explained, the phrase means, “Your separation [among yourself] is difficult unto me.” This can be understood as a reference to dissension between Jews themselves. Hashem is saying, “I cannot bear to witness strife and animosity between you. Therefore, celebrate this one more day in unity, and may it evoke a spirit of unity within you for the entire year.” Thus the essence of this regel — holiday — is to foster unity and Ahavat Yisrael among the Jewish people.

(ר' ישראל זצ"ל מרוזין)