Pinchas (In Israel Matot)

July 27th, 2019

24th of Tamuz 5779


"There is One Who Acquires his World in a Single Instant"

Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

"And it shall be for him and his offspring after him a covenant of eternal priesthood" (Bamidbar 25:13)

Why did Pinchas merit this great reward? For his display of self-sacrifice for the honor of Hashem. He was not afraid of anyone and even though Zimri son of Salu was the head of one of the tribes of Israel, and all the men of his tribe witnessed the act, nevertheless Pinchas was the one who was prepared to endanger his life. He reinforced himself with courage and strength and was prepared to die for the sake of Hashem's honor, by taking a spear in his hand and killing them in front of everyone. When Hashem saw his bravery, He performed miracles for him and protected him from danger as well as giving him a complete reward.

The sefer 'Pituchai Chotem', written by the miracle worker Rabbeinu Ya'akov Abuchatzerah zya"a, writes that the name 'Pinchas' expresses his zealousness for Hashem's honor. 'פנחס' can be split up into two words –  'פני חס'('Pnei-chas'). Zimri son of Salu did not have mercy on his Creator's honor as if shaming Hashem in public, whereas Pinchas came and zealously avenged Hashem's honor by putting his life in danger. 'Pnei-chas' implies that Pinchas stood up showing concern for the shame of the Creator (boshet panim) and he also had mercy (chas) on Heaven's honor which was disgraced through this sin.

I would like to suggest another hint that is contained in Pinchas' name. The word 'chaim' (life) has the same numerical value of 68 as 'chas' (to show mercy), which hints to the fact that Pinchas gave up his personal life for the sake of Hashem's honor and agreed to sacrifice his life in order to show vengeance for Hashem's honor, as uprooting the sinners from the camp of Israel was foremost in his mind. To Pinchas we can apply the Chazal (Avoda Zarah 18a): "There is one who acquires his World in an instant".

On the face of it, Pinchas could have made the following calculation: Moshe and Ahron and the seventy Elders are all standing in front of him and if they are remaining quiet and not taking any action in opposition of the disgraceful act of Zimri son of Salu, then why should he display more fear of Heaven than them?

But Pinchas did not take this into consideration. He removed these deliberations from his heart and did not make any personal reckonings. In an instant he made a most courageous decision and did whatever he thought was correct and fitting to do for the sake of Hashem's honor. Therefore, it says (Bamidbar 25:13): "because he took vengeance for his G-d". At that moment it seemed that G-d was his alone, and it was his obligation to be zealous for His honor, even if others were not doing anything. Concerning this act, it says, "There is one who acquires his World in a single instant", for had Pinchas hesitated and started making calculations, the evil inclination would have found some pretext to absolve him of the responsibility and he would have lost the chance.

This is the meaning of the verse, "…and he stood up from among the assembly and took a spear in his hand" (Bamidbar 25:7). Suddenly Pinchas arose from among the congregation who were all present at the same scene, and with extreme swiftness and vigor performed this bold act for the honor of Hashem. These moments of alacrity were what earned him the merit of the covenant of everlasting priesthood for him and his offspring after him, for "There is one who acquires his World in a single instant".

This is the correct way for every person to behave at all times. If a person is lax in fulfilling mitzvot and tells himself that he has time and delays their performance, the evil inclination will take advantage of this lull and seek to prevent him from fulfilling the mitzva, through introducing thoughts of cowardice and laziness in his heart. What in fact causes him to lose the opportunity? His original laziness. Neglecting the opportunity to fulfill a mitzvah that he could have performed was the cause for him to lose everything. One who is quick in fulfilling mitzvot is the one who gains right from the start and through this, he merits and acquires his world in an instant.

May it be His will that Hashem implant love and fear of Him in our hearts all the days and may we merit to fulfill His mitzvot and perform His will with alacrity, Amen v'Amen.

Words of the Sages

Why Did Maran Rabbi Ovadiah Seek an Elderly Lady in the Bucharim Quarter?

"Who shall go out before them and come in before them" (Bamidbar 27:17)

Hagaon Rabbi Yechiel Michel Stern shlita, brings the following story about Maran Hagaon Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef zt"l, in one of his sefarim:

I remember that once when I was a child, my father zt"l returned from the Beit Haknesset one Friday night and my mother exclaimed: "When I took out some soup to feed the children, I noticed that it was very red and I am concerned that maybe I inadvertently cooked the chicken without kashering it first."

My father replied: "Nu, so we won't eat the soup and we'll kasher the pot."

"But there is a problem. Every Erev Shabbat a poor woman from the Bucharim quarter comes and I give her two chicken wings; today was no exception. What will we do about this?"

When my father zt"l heard this, his face turned pale and he felt weak. What will we do now? We don’t know where she lives, where should we start looking for her??

My father decided to go to Rabbi Zvi Pesach Frank to discuss the dilemma with him. Rabbi Zvi Pesach thought about it and said, "I cannot think of any way to permit eating the chicken. Maybe go to Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef, maybe he will be able to find some leniency?"

My father went over to Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef's house. He was in the middle of the seudah, but nevertheless tried to clarify whether my mother put the chicken into the pot when the water was already boiling, or before adding the water. Father zt"l answered: "I think she first places the chicken in the pot, fills it up with water and then puts it on the flame."

"If so, there is no room to be lenient!" This was the psak of Rabbeinu. My father burst out crying: "What should I do? There is a poor woman who was given two wings from this chicken! All we know is that she lives somewhere in the Bucharim quarter, we have no idea of her exact address."

Rabbeinu thought for a few moments and then said: "If you go to Bucharim, who will pay attention to a stranger? Besides, most people are now in the middle of their Shabbat meal. I will come with you and maybe we will find someone on the streets. They will certainly be willing to help me and I am sure that with G-d's help we will succeed in finding her."

Rabbeinu recited birkat hamazon, left his family and accompanied my father to the Bucharim neighborhood.

On the way he asked my father to pray that they find her quickly, because he was supposed to give a shiur in 'Porat Yosef' and did not wish to delay the participants.

When they arrived Rabbeinu saw a woman coming out of her courtyard and asked her, "Where does the poor woman live?" "There are many poor women who live in this area," was her reply. But slowly a few people gathered and my father tried his best to describe this woman. A few suggestions were offered so they went to one house and together with my father, Rabbeinu knocked on the door, closely followed by a group of curious neighbors.

The woman had already gone to bed and called out from behind the closed door: "Who's there?" When she heard "Ovadiah Yosef!" she hurried to unlock the door and was shocked to see Rabbeinu standing on her doorstep!

Rabbeinu explained: "This man's wife gave you two chicken wings today but they are treif!"

"Baruch Hashem that the Rav came to let me know! I put them in the cholent pot for tomorrow!"

Rabbeinu turned around to my father (with whom he wasn't acquainted) and said: "Hashem does not bring about a pitfall through tzaddikim". It must be that his honor is a tzaddik…"

The Haftarah

The Haftarah of the week: "The hand of Hashem was upon Eliyahu" (Melachim I, 18-19)

The connection to the Parsha: The Haftarah speaks about Eliyahu Hanavi who acted with great zeal for Hashem, for the Bnei Yisrael had forsaken His covenant. The same idea is mentioned in the Parsha concerning Pinchas who was zealous for Hashem and through his actions atoned for Bnei Yisrael and stopped the plague.

Guard Your Tongue

Disregarding 'Amen'

It is forbidden to live in an area of ba'alei lashon hara (habitual speakers of lashon hara) and all the more so, is it forbidden to sit among them and listen to their talk, even if one does not intend to accept what they are saying. It is even more important to take care that one's fixed seat in the Beit Haknesset should not be among ba'alei lashon hara, for this will accustom him in this bad trait and will cause him to become someone who talks negatively about others. Their negative chatter will also cause him to neglect answering 'amen yehei shemei rabba' and 'barchu'.

Walking in their Ways

On contemplation, a person will find that many times he merits acquiring his world in an instant in the merit of a good deed that he performed or a certain mitzvah that he fulfilled. It is this mitzvah that served as a protection for him and prevented a harmful event.

On one of my many travels I arrived in Venezuela in order to offer inspiration to the dear members of the kehilla.

After I concluded my speech we conducted a public recitation of 'kriyat shema' which was a powerful demonstration of kiddush shem shamayim. I blessed all the participants, in the merit of my holy ancestors zya"a, and then made my way to our waiting car. Suddenly one of the participants appeared and asked to open the car door for he wished to receive a personal blessing from me. My attendants tried to prevent him from approaching the car, since we had just finished the gathering and I was in a rush to get to my next destination. However, I asked them to allow him to talk to me, for why not perform a kindness for a fellow Jew? If he went to the trouble of trying to reach me, he must certainly require this blessing, so why should I not fulfill his wish and thereby give nachat to Hashem? I proceeded to bless him and this delayed us for several moments.

In this merit we merited an amazing demonstration of Hashem's salvation. During those few moments that we were held back by this man, a car passed by and overtook us. Suddenly a second car approached this car and two men with a menacing look jumped out. They were armed with guns and intended to steal the car and rob its owners who were just in front of us… We were overcome by a great fear, and to add to our anxiety, the car in front of us started speeding in reverse, in order to escape the thieves, almost crashing in to us! When those wicked people realized that this car was bullet proof and was therefore an unsuitable target for them, they immediately drove off before the local police would arrive.

My thoughts immediately took me to the man who asked for a blessing. Had I not heeded his request, it would have been our car that would have been the target of the malicious thieves, and who knows what tragedy was prevented, G-d forbid, by this delay, with Hashem's kindness. Even had we escaped with our lives, these people are notorious for taking people hostage and demanding a high sum in exchange for their ransom.

In a most tangible way we saw how the merit of the short delay for the sake of a mitzvah, saved us from possible death and no doubt we can refer the verse 'There is one who acquires his world in an instant' to this incident.

Pearls of the Parsha

Benefit for Klal Yisrael

"Pinchas…turned back My wrath from upon the Children of Israel…so I did not consume the Children of Israel…Therefore, say: Behold! I give him My covenant of peace" (Bamidbar 25:11-12)

It appears that Pinchas received his reward only for turning back Hashem's wrath from the Bnei Yisrael and preventing their annihilation. This is hard to understand, for even had Pinchas' act not saved Klal Yisrael, was the actual deed that was performed with mesirat nefesh and brought about a Kiddush Hashem, not enough to merit a reward?

The 'Birkat Peretz' answers this difficulty by quoting the Gemarah (Kiddushin 40a) that for a deed that only brings benefit for Heaven and not for people, one does not receive reward in this world. Only in the Next World does a person receive his complete reward.

Had Pinchas' act not turned back Hashem's wrath, he would only have received reward in the Next World, but since it also brought about a benefit for Klal Yisrael, he merited receiving the covenant of peace in This World.

The Ten Commandments Were Given in the Singular

"Because he took vengeance for his G-d" (Bamidbar 25:13)

It is the way of every sinner to place the blame on someone else and say: "So and so also committed this act".

This is the reason why Hashem gave the Ten Commandments in the singular tense, so that every single person in Klal Yisrael should imagine that the Torah was given to him alone and another person's behavior should have no bearing on the way he acts.

The sefer 'Chomat Eish' explains that Pinchas certainly could have observed Moshe and Ahron and the seventy Elders and said: If they are remaining silent and not taking any action, why should I be more G-d fearing than them? But he did not take this into account and instead did what he thought was necessary for the sake of Hashem's honor.

This is why the Torah uses the expression "he took vengeance for his G-d" – at that moment he considered G-d as if He was his alone, therefore the obligation to be zealous for His honor fell on his shoulders, even though no one else was taking action.

The Faithful Shepherd of Israel

"And let the assembly of Hashem not be like sheep that have no shepherd" (Bamidbar 27:17)

The Chafetz Chaim, the faithful shepherd of his congregation, was teaching a Gemarah shiur in the Beit Haknesset in Radin, when he came to the Gemarah in Baba Batra where it talks about the city Nahardo, which was full of thieves. Due to this, the townspeople did not let their animals go alone to the shepherd but would personally escort the animals and hand them over to the shepherd.

The mikveh attendant who was participating in the shiur, commented that now he understands the verse that we say in Kabbalat Shabbat,"ואנחנו עם מרעיתו וצאן ידו", "We can be the flock He pastures, and the sheep in His Hand". Hashem shields us nonstop, like an item that is handed over from hand to hand.

The Chafetz Chaim complimented this explanation and would repeat it often.

Rabbi Shabbtai Sheptil Weiss shlita quotes this explanation in his sefer 'Mishbetzot Zahav’ and writes that he heard that this can also explain Moshe Rabbeinu's request: "And let the assembly of Hashem not be" – even for one moment – "like sheep that have no shepherd", but instead may they go from hand to hand, from the hand of Moshe Rabbeinu the faithful shepherd, to the hand of Yehoshua bin Nun, without interruption!

From the Treasury

Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

An Anonymous Sinner

At the end of Parshat Balak, when the Torah tells of the terrible sin that the head of the tribe of Shimon committed with the Midianite, it does not mention their names. Only in Parshat Pinchas, after Pinchas stood up and selflessly killed them, only then does the Torah find it in place to detail the names of the sinners, Zimri son of Salu and Cozbi daughter of Tzur.

My dear son, Rabbi Michael sheyichya, pointed out this discrepancy.

I would like to suggest, with siyata dishmaya, the following answer: We know that a person's name is an expression of his connection to his roots and to his pure soul that comes from the Upper World. Every name that is given to a Jewish person is granted with Divine Intervention, according to his connection and association with the Upper Worlds. Since a person's first name connects him to the source of his neshama, the moment he sins, his connection with the holy Shechina is severed and since he has lost this connection, his name is also automatically withdrawn. Until now his name was his source of connection, so now he becomes a nameless person.

This could be the reason why the Torah did not mention Zimri son of Salu's name when talking about his sin, since through the extent of his wickedness and immorality, Zimri disconnected himself from Hashem and no longer had a connection to the Torah. This caused him to lose his name for it is the name which connects and associates the person with the source of his neshama which is hewn from the Holy Throne.

But once Pinchas stood up and showed vengeance for Hashem's honor by killing Zimri, it was as if a rectification had been made for Zimri's neshama, for he already received his punishment. His death was his atonement. In addition, since Zimri's sin brought about a terrible plague among Am Yisrael, this certainly inserted fear and dread of sin in their hearts, for they understood how terrible the sin of immorality is considered in Hashem' s eyes, for "the G-d of these people hates immorality". This resulted in "from sharp came out sweet" and all these advantages are accredited to his merit. This brought a rectification to his soul which was once again reunited with its source, and so automatically his name returned.

Now the Torah can once again call him by his name, Zimri son of Salu. And even though he did not have positive intentions, nevertheless a kiddush shem shamyim was brought about through him and because of him Am Yisrael drew closer to Hashem and a fear of sin entered their hearts.

"Let Her Be Praised"

In Memory of Mazal Tov Madeleine bat Mocha Simcha Zal

"לא תירא לביתה משלג כי כל ביתה לבש שנים"

"She fears not snow for her household, for all her household is clothed in scarlet wool"

Over the last few months, the many acts of charity and kindness that the Mother of Royalty, Rabbanit Pinto a"h performed, are slowly coming to light. She stood by the side of her husband, the miracle worker, Rabbeinu Moshe Ahron Pinto zya"a, who was the symbol and paragon of acts of kindness with his Kehilla members and all those who came to his home to ask for salvation and mercy. The Rabbanit a"h too, merited performing considerable acts of kindness, physically and financially, in an openhanded way and with generosity of spirit.

During the shiva her son told over a story, ingrained in his mind from his earliest childhood memories:

The decline of the Jewish communities throughout Morocco saw many families leaving their homes and birthplace; some set their sights for the Holy Land, while others set off for France, Canada and other countries around the world.

The Pinto family lived in the city of Mogador. Mogador was a sprawling, modern town, home to many entrepreneurs. Of course, the Jewish businessmen were the first to liquidate their businesses and leave the city. At the same time, many Jews from the surrounding villages began to settle in the city, and being simple laborers, they brought with them poverty and privation.

Mogador boasted large houses, comprising as many as ten rooms. These poor families each rented one room, sharing their accommodations with several other families. One large room, containing a single coal oven, housed the common kitchen, while the well in the courtyard served as their source of water.

"We lived in the 'Mellah'," her son reminisced, "the town's ancient Jewish quarter. It was surrounded by a wall, with gates at the entrance. How we loved the quarter! This was where we spent much of our childhood, amusing ourselves among its alleyways. When those poor people took up residence, Abba zya"a and Ima a"h welcomed them and assisted them as much as they could. I well remember how every Thursday Ima a"h would go to the market and buy meat, potatoes and peas. On returning home she would put everything into a very large pot, mixing the meat well together with the potatoes and peas, so that the meat should be evenly distributed throughout the pot. After that she would seal the pot, leaving it to cook the whole Friday night. On Shabbat morning each family would come and fill up a small pot with cholent from our big pot. Ima a"h was particular that every family should receive some meat! I remember that at that time some thirty families would enjoy cholent from this pot!"

"It is noteworthy", he continued, "that each family that came to take their share, was particular to leave enough for the others who would come after them. They didn’t pounce on the food out of hunger, but each one waited patiently in line and took just what they needed.

One Shabbat some people knocked on the door, wishing to receive their portion, but for some reason no one opened the door for them. When Abba zay"a heard about this, he was filled with distress and protested the matter considerably. It pained him greatly that Jewish people had to turn back without food."


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