Dead and Alive?
Though long dead, this week, we will once again say hello to Nodov & Avihu, Doson & Avirom, Eyr & Oinon, even Serach Bas Asher. A few have been dead for weeks, others, a few parshas and decades back. Serach might still be alive today, ver veyst. A few who are zicher long dead will come back to life. We will also say hello to the sons of Koirach. Are they dead? Ver veyst? All the above mentioned make cameo appearances in parshas Pinchas. How could the dead suddenly be live again? Hey, it’s medrish; everything is possible and It’s mistama why we love learning it. We will explore that concept below and more, ober….
To chap and make sense of the first eight pisukim of this week’s dizzying parsha of Pinchas, we should ershtens (firstly) go back and review the last nine of Bolok wherein we learned that the Yiddin sinned with the shiksa Moabite girls. Said the heylige Toirah: the Yiddin, at least 24,000 of them, had illicit sexual relations with the girls. Adds the medrish: just prior to, or during the act itself, ver veyst, the girls demanded of their clients, who were seemingly first seduced and now fully engaged, hapless and no longer thinking with their big heads, to engage with the idol known as Ba’al Peor. What the hec is a Ba’al Peor? Another medrish will tell us that worship of this particular idol entailed an act of defecation. Avada it’s always good to empty one’s bowels, ober, specifically how defecation before, or during, worked as an aphrodisiac and mood enhancer, ver veyst. Exactly what went down besides the Yiddin on the shiksas, we do not know with certainty. Whatever it was, what we do know from the text is that the RBSO was quite upset and gave specific orders for the participants to be killed and hung. Shoin, in the very last posik we were told that 24,000 were taka dead. And with that introduction, welcome to parshas Pinchas, which continues this ugly chapter in the Yiddin’s otherwise glorious (not) midbar history.
Ober, do all agree that only 24,000 were involved and guilty of participation in the sexcapades with the cunning shiksas? Not! Says Rashi, and who knew more, quoting the Talmud Yirushalmi’s version of what went down during the mass orgy, azoy: 176,000 Yiddin participated and were killed by the Jewish leaders as instructed by the RBSO before His anger over the incident subsided. Ober, didn’t the heylige Toirah itself end last week’s parsha by telling us that there were but 24,000 dead? It did! Says the heylige Toirah (Bamidbar 24:9) “Those who died in the plague were 24,000.” Shoin and case closed? Also not!
How many dead were there? 24,000 or 176,000? Or, was it efsher 24,000 + 176,000? And if the number was taka 176,000 or more, why does the heylige Toirah, which is avada emes, mention but 24,000 dead? Why would it leave out such a significant number of dead? It’s zicher not the RBSO’s modis operandi to hide and sweep under the proverbial rug this significant a number of sinners. Farkert: the RBSO always tells us about bad boys; it’s what makes our Toirah so real. Taka an excellent question ober lest you think for even a moment that you are efsher as clever as those who wrote the medrish, Gemora, or as insightful as later exegetes, you are not!
Using some accounting creativity, one medrish got the numbers to reconcile. How? Azoy. While it’s seemingly maybe emes and avada logical that 176,000 males participated and were active with the Moabite shiksas (ober, weren’t they but victims of the cunning seductresses?), still it’s shayich (reasonable) that not all were dead following their happy endings. Moreover, while it would taka make good sense for the RBSO to become somewhat enraged, as this myseh (incident) did take place from among the new generation of Yiddin, those slated to enter the Promised Land in a but a few months, still, not all were killed. How many dead were there?
Says the heylige Gemora (Yirushalmi Sanhedrin 10:2): 176,000! Ober, says the Oznayim Latoirah so gishmak, azoy: It’s poshit (simple). 176,000 taka participated and were slated to die. Ober, along came this fellow Pinchas -out of nowhere mamish- a gentleman who seemingly had no standing to execute anyone, took notice that Zimri too was standing, if you chap, and killed two people. Which two? Shoin, last week they went unidentified ober in this week’s parsha the heylige Toirah will identify them as Zimri, the son of Salu, himself a chieftain from shyevet Shimon, and Kozbi, she the hot daughter of Tzur, and herself a Midianite princess. Pinchas was seemingly distraught that these two had the temerity to perform their lewd sex act in public mamish, and had an instant reaction. He took matters into his own hands. Grada had Zimri done the same, his life may have been extended. Pinchas grabbed a spear, and killed them both at one time by piercing them while they were mamish locked in, if you chap. So says Rashi. Avada the medrish will add more color, why not, and tell us that the spear was directed mamish at their genitalia and given their position, he was somehow able to strike and pierce both organs at one time. X marks the spot. When the RBSO took note of Pinchas’ solo act of vigilantism and heroism to protect His honor, His anger subsided and the 176,000 that were mistama guilty and marked for death, were pardoned.
Does everyone agree? Of course not! We can spend another few paragraphs listing other medroshim which insist that only 24,000 perished. Ober, let’s go veyter. What we know for sure is this: this group of Yiddin, seemingly worthy of entering the Promised Land, instead chose to enter more dangerous terrain, if you chap. They easily succumbed to the advances of the Moabite shiksas and in their longing for sex with them, also acceded to their demands of idol worship. This combo, as always, was lethal.
As an aside, earlier postings on this parsha -five others, and each a gem mamish- can be found at www.oisvorfer.com. Let’s continue with a few more medroshim on Pinchas that will mamish astound you.
Pinchas, a Toirah hero mamish, is, as you can imagine, the subject of many a medrish. Rashi and many others describe very colorfully how he killed the two brazen individuals without regard to their social status and will also provide additional details on why, what, when and where. He tells us that many miracles needed to occur in order for Pinchas to have -on his own- been able to spear Zimri and Kosbi. How many? Says the heylige Gemora (Sanhedrin 82): six. Ober says the Targum Yoinoson Ben Uziel, he, one of the most creative, when it came to color commentary of a sexual nature, azoy: the number of open miracles Pinchas experienced totaled 12. Twelve is avada more impressive than six; let’s recount them.
1- Once they were speared, he lifted them up. One would have expected them to become separated during the lifting ober a ness (miracle) mamish occurred; they remained locked just as he encountered them.
2- As Pinchas approached with spear in hand and ready to strike, we would have expected them to either fight back, yell for help, or both. Had they done so, it’s gantz shayich (logical) that others would have come to their rescue. Zimri was a tribal leader and she a princess. Ober no one came! Why? Because they didn’t yell. And why not? Shoin: the RBSO struck them dumb; they could neither speak or make any sounds.
3- As mentioned above, with one spear, Pinchas was able to mamish direct the blade so that it struck both perpetrators through their sex organs. Such precision required a miracle as well.
4- Pinchas lifted them up in the air and carried them around the entire camp. Why? Seemingly to show and tell and warn others about the perils of such engagement. The miracle was that while being transported (and maybe still alive- see below), they did not slip off the spear. They remained skewered. Pinchas may have invented the first ever shish k’bab, ver veyst.
5- As Pinchas lifted them in order to carry them about, the rooftop of the tent, the lintel, was magically raised so that he would have enough clearance to remove them safely from the tent while still impaled on the blade.
6- Though the payload was heavy, we need to kler that together they weighed at least 275 pounds -depending avada on how much Munn they consumed daily- he was miraculously able to parade them around the camp and walk a distance of over 20 kilometers without tiring.
7- As he held and carried them about, Zimri’s mishpocho and other tribal members, took notice, yet none attacked a defenseless Pinchas whose weapon was already elsewhere occupied.
8- The wooden handle of the spear, despite its payload, did not break.
9- His spear which was mistama of average size, became elongated by the RBSO so that it could safely pierce the two of them and hold them in place as he lifted and carried them about.
10- A malach (angel) appeared on the scene and turned both Zimri and Kozbi around so that all could witness and see where he had pierced them. Lesson learned!
11- Though speared, they did not die. They remained alive mamish while Pinchas paraded them about. This miracle was necessary to ensure that Pinchas, who was a koihen or about to become one, should not become tomay (defiled by being near or having contact with the dead). Had they died en route, certainly he would have become defiled.
12- Their blood, which under normal circumstances would have rushed out of their bodies from the open puncture, did not. Instead, it congealed. Pinchas was not contaminated or defiled by their blood.
Only when he completed the camp tour, did he place them down. They died immediately. Shoin, there you have it. One account of what happened to Pinchas as an instant reward for the good work he undertook for the RBSO’s honor. Is this how it all went down? Ver veyst! Why not?
And if those miracles weren’t enough, and zicher they were, let’s learn some kabbola (mysticism). Pinchas is introduced to us (Bamidbar 25:11) as the son of Elozor and Aharoin. Lest you think that Pinchas was this mighty warrior and macho individual, seemingly he was neither. Says the heylige Zoihar, he, the master of kabbola, azoy: as Pinchas entered the room where Zimri and Kozbi were fornicating, and decided on the spur of the moment mamish, to take action by killing them, he became very frightened. Frightened that Zimri’s mishpocho and fellow tribesman would seek immediate retribution and kill him. How sacred was he? Says the Zoihar azoy: from sheer freight, his soul left him. He was dead! Kaput, over and out! Ober, the RBSO revived him by magically placing the souls of the previously departed Nodov and Avihu, they the two sons of Aharoin the koihen Godol (high Priest) who had died back in sefer Vayikra, into Pinchas. Shoin, Pinchas, now maybe Nodov and Avihu, woke up and followed through. Moreover, based on this pshat, we can chap why Pinchas is introduced in the very first verse as the son of Aharoin. If he was now Nodov and Avihu, he was zicher the son or the sons of Aharoin. Gishmak!
Ober is that emes? Says the Targum Yoinoson who was mamish deliriously happy with this parsha, azoy: As a reward for his actions to help curb the RBSO’s anger which resulted efsher in the saving of many lives, as many as an additional 176,000 sinners who seemingly partook and chapped with the Moabite shiksas, the RBSO rewarded Pinchas and told him he would live forever. Moreover, he would herald redemption. Ober, isn’t that the job of Eliyouhu Hanovee (Elijah)? Of course it is! Shoin, no problem. Our sages teach us that Pinchas morphed in Eliyohu Hanovee as well. Shoin.
Was Pinchas then Nodov and Avihu? Or, was he Eliyohu? Shoin, efsher he was both or all three. What difference does this make to you? Either way, you now have something gishmak to say at the shabbis tish in lieu of, or in addition to, the regular reserved for the shabbis tish, latest loshoin horo and gossip.
Ober why would the RBSO revive Pinchas with the souls of the late Nodov & Avihu? Shoin, says the medrish so gishmak, azoy: their souls needed to come back for rectification. His zealousness somehow corrected the flaws they had. Vus meynt dos (what does that mean)?
Avada you recall that Nodov and Avihu met untimely deaths. Back then we were taught that they brought an ‘eish zoro’, a strange or foreign fire before the RBSO. One they were not commanded to bring. And shoin: a moment later they were both dead, consumed by the fire. Similarly, our man Pinchas, with fiery zealousness, also not so commanded, came along and doused the fire burning within Zimri and Kozbi. Moreover, says the Chidushei Ho’Rim so gishmak, azoy: Nodov and Avihu issued a ruling in front of Moishe, whatever that means, and Pinchas did the same when he took matters into his own hands by killing, without prior authorization, Zimri and Kozbi. Our hero Pinchas, now acting as Nodov and Avihu, made the correct ruling as we are told that Moishe had forgotten the unique halocho which allows a zealot who happens upon a nice Jewish fellow having sex with a hot shiksa, to act impetuously and kill them on the spot. As an aside, the heylige Gemora (Sanhedrin 82) tells us that this particular ruling is not to be taught, whatever that means. The bottom line: if you are planning to have relations with a hot shiksa, close and lock the door!
Ober asks another medrish azoy: weren’t we all taught in yeshiva that the reward for doing a mitzvah is another mitzvah? We were. And weren’t we taught that our good deeds in this world will be rewarded only in the world to come when they tally up our scorecard of good and bad deeds? Why was it that Pinchas was able to reap his reward while still alive? Taka an excellent kasha ober once again we go back to the Zoihar whose pshat mamish addresses this kasha. Let’s recall that Pinchas was so frightened that his soul left him, he was dead mamish. Shoin, once dead, he was instantly eligible to receive his reward which according to some was to live forever, this time as Eliyohu.
Nu, as it turns out, Nodov and Avihu weren’t the only ones that may have come back to life in this week’s parsha and let’s say hello to the sons of Koirach, he the protagonist of the failed rebellion against Moishe who was swallowed up alive just a few parshas back. Says the heylige Toirah this week (Bamidbar 26:11), azoy: “Uvnay Koirach loi maysu” (the sons of Koirach did not die). They didn’t’? But weren’t they too, along with Mrs. Koirach swallowed up by the mouth that was created on day six day of creation just for that purpose? Did they suddenly escape El Chapo style? Nu, let’s see what a few had to say about Koirach’s boys. Says Rashi quoting from the heylige Gemora (Sanhedrin 110a) azoy: it’s taka emes that the boys were initially backing their father’s plans and were part of the revolution. Ober, at the very last second, they did tshuva, they repented. And it’s taka emes that the earth swallowed them up. Ober, because they repented, albeit at the very last moment, they received a special place in gihenom (hell), where they were seemingly safe from its raging fires. They survived. Nice.
Ober listen to what the Re’em quoting the medrish (Sochor Toiv 1) had to say about Koirach’s boys. Not just did the boys have comfortable seats in hell, in a safe and secure area, above the fray, where they experienced no harm, they also came up to the surface and were then granted safe entry into the Promised Land. If this pshat is taka emes, we need to consider some real tshuva in the coming months. On the other hand: Efsher we have time; Koirach’s boys waited unit the very last moment and their repentance was seemingly accepted. Shoin: they are very much alive. And says the Taz, azoy: its efsher the case that both things happened to them. First, they went to hell for having conspired with their father, and only after experiencing its fires, and as a result of their last minute charotoa and heartfelt repentance, they were allowed back and traveled safely into the Land. Gishmak!
And we close this week with yet another installment of ‘the master plan.’ All the questions we have can always be answered by invoking these words. Why did anything happened to the Yiddin? Because it was the RBSO’ master plan. He controls all. Following the entire Pinchas, Zimri and Kozbi debacle which took the lives of either 24,000 or more Yiddin, the RBSO ordered another census to be taken. He also instructed Moishe to harass or declare war against the Midianites for having caused the Yiddin to sin with the Moabite shiksas. And the question is azoy? Was it not Bolok, king of Moabites who hired Bilam to curse the Yiddin? It was! Were not all the girls who seduced the Yiddin into sex and idolatry Moabite descent? So the heylige Toirah tells us. Why was it then that the RBSO demanded that Moishe declare and eventually wage war against the Midianites and not the Moabites? The Moabite seemingly got a pass. What’s taka pshat? Ober raboyseyee, pshat is like this, and the answer is one word: Rus (Ruth). In the RBSO’s master plan, Rus whose emotional and very heartwarming story we read on the Yom Tov of Shovuis, and whose progeny included none other than Dovid Hamelch (King David), needed to be born. At this time in Torah time, she wasn’t. Rus, as you will efsher recall was the granddaughter of Bolok. Shoin, in the end, once again, it all fits into the master plan. Avada we should keep that in mind when good and bad things befall us.
A gittin Shabbis-
The Oisvorfer Ruv