Sunday, July 24, 2005

posts so far for parshat Pinchas

Year 2
  • Giv'at Pinchas
    • Many times we hear that the Levites received no inheritance in Eretz Yisrael (with the exception of certain Levite cities) yet the last pasuk in sefer Yehoshua states that Eleazar was buried in Giv'at Pinchas beno - the hill of Pinchas his son - which had been given to him in Har Ephraim.
      The Sifrei explains this as an inheritance from Pinchas' wife, who was from the tribe of Ephraim. I tie this in with the daughters of Tzelophchad, later in Pinchas, in Bemidbar 27, and to the explicit mention at the end of parshat Masei (in Bemidbar 36) that inheriting from a woman who has inherited can cause land to switch tribes.
      I also give two other suggestions - that is was not a true inheritance, but was granted to Pinchas in perpetuity as an achuzat kever, a place to bury his dead; and alternatively, just as we see that Yehoshua seems to have gotten a nachala in Har Ephraim (within his own tribes' land) after and apart from the usual division of the land, perhaps the same was true for Pinchas, as a practical matter of being a member of the ruling elite, who should be in close proximity to Yehoshua, or else as an expression of gratitude for his leadership, for example in the war against the Midianites, as we see in parshat Matot.
  • A Real Shlumiel
    • A tongue-in-cheek etymology of the word Shlemiel. I note that midrashically, Rabbi Yochanan identifies Zimri ben, the nasi of a household in the tribe of Shimon, with Shelumiel ben Tzurishaddai, the nasi of the tribe of Shimon, and gives explanations of the import of the other names. I also note that this follows a closed-canon approach.
      Thus we have the ultimate Shlemiel. Zimri does the sin, and Shelumiel is blamed for it!
  • How Many Tents? (cross-listed from parshat Korach)
    • How did Korach die? Was he burned with those offering incense or was he swallowed alive together with Datan and Aviram? I point out in this post that parshat Korach does not answer this explicitly, while in parshat Pinchas, when arriving at the lineage of Datan and Aviram, while the death of Korach is mentioned, how he died is perhaps left ambiguous. The psukim in Pinchas:
      וּבְנֵ֣י אֱלִיאָ֔ב נְמוּאֵ֖ל וְדָתָ֣ן וַֽאֲבִירָ֑ם הֽוּא־דָתָ֨ן וַֽאֲבִירָ֜ם קרואי (קְרִיאֵ֣י) הָֽעֵדָ֗ה אֲשֶׁ֨ר הִצּ֜וּ עַל־מֹשֶׁ֤ה וְעַֽל־אַהֲרֹן֙ בַּֽעֲדַת־קֹ֔רַח בְּהַצֹּתָ֖ם עַל־ה׃
      וַתִּפְתַּ֨ח הָאָ֜רֶץ אֶת־פִּ֗יהָ וַתִּבְלַ֥ע אֹתָ֛ם וְאֶת־קֹ֖רַח בְּמ֣וֹת הָֽעֵדָ֑ה בַּֽאֲכֹ֣ל הָאֵ֗שׁ אֵ֣ת חֲמִשִּׁ֤ים וּמָאתַ֨יִם֙ אִ֔ישׁ וַיִּֽהְי֖וּ לְנֵֽס׃
      וּבְנֵי־קֹ֖רַח לֹא־מֵֽתוּ׃
      One could read this as either the earth swallowing them (Datan and Aviram), and Korach up, or else as the earth swallowing Datan and Aviram up, while Korach died with the death of the congregation, the other 150 who offered incense. The trup, in many ways, favors the former interpretation.
      Within parshat Korach, I point out that Moshe explicitly says that Korach will offer incense with the congregation; that he speaks to Korach and his congregation before turning to Datan and Aviram; that we would not truly expect the tent of Korach to be next to the tent of Datan and Aviram (for it to be swallowed up); that Moshe only addresses Datan and Aviram and not Korach; that the phrase mishkan-Korach Datan VaAviram has a makef between "tent" and "Korach," and that this, combined with other trup, suggests that
      mishkan-Korach means the Korachite tent of Datan and Aviram, and so Korach is not present at all; that only Datan, Aviram, and their families emerge from the tents, and no mention is made of Korach and his family; and finally, that this could be the cause of the statement in parshat Pinchas that the sons of Korach did not die - they were not present at all.
  • Why Did Pinchas' Action Stop the Plague?
    • I suggest that his act recast the situation from "Me vs. Them" into "Me and Some of Them vs. Others of Them," such that it did not merit as severe a response.
  • Did Pinchas Act On His Own Initiative? (cross-listed from parshat Matot)
    • After rejecting a silly reading which condemned Pinchas' act and claimed he was "healed" and was now a Peace Now activist, I put forth two readings which show Pinchas did not act on his own. According to the traditional reading, put forth by Rashi, he told Moshe the law and received instructions to carry it out on Zimri. According to a possible pshat reading, he was explicitly told a verse earlier to kill the leaders who had joined Baal Peor, and Zimri fit this description.
  • Midianites or Moabites? (cross-listed from parshat Matot)
    • Considers the issue and evidence of whether Moabites or Midianites were involved in the harlotry and idolatry of Baal Peor, explores Midianite involvement earlier in parshat Balak, and suggests a possible resolution of this difficulty.

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