Mystical Parsha: Pinchas the Paradox of Peace (Only Notes)
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Classic Questions on the Text

1. Why does the lineage for Pinchas mention three people? Usually it mentions only father/son.

2. How many covenants are made with Pinchas, what do they entail?

3. How could Pinchas kill someone? A Cohen is not allowed to become Tammay (Ritually impure) and why would the reward for murder be a covenant of peace?

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Answer 1: Lineage mentioning three generations.

This phraseology is reminiscent of another threefold chain. The three Avot. Avraham and Aharon, the first link in the chain both start with an Alef and are connected to the Sfirah of Chessed. They were the first of their kind. Pinchas and Yackov were important links in the chain, they represent action. As Kohelet states a “Threefold cord is not easily cut” In Geometry any two points will make a line. However when you have three points that can only be one specific line. - Based on Medrash

In this episode Pinchas is the fulfillment of what Aharon began.

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Answer 2: We have several approaches.

Rashi: He sees both comments as the same Brit or covenant stating that Pinchas and his descendants will be the High Priests forever.

Ibn Ezra, Bekhor Shor, The Ba'alei Ha-Tosefot, and Abarbanel: Explain that the Brit Shalom refers to a promise of protection from vengeance on the part of the victims' relatives and supporters. God assured Pinchas that he had nothing to fear from those who vowed to avenge the blood he spilt.

Sforno : States the covenant of peace is peace from the angel of death. Pinchas is given personal longevity. This is what is meant by the Brit Shalom.

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Answer 3: Sometimes in order to achieve peace, we must go to war.

A paradox is a statement that apparently contradicts itself and yet might be true. The Rav said the Garden of Eden is not paradise it is Paradox.

Tosfot asks this question. One answer given is that Pinchas was saving lives by killing, he stopped the plague from killing more people and for Pikuach Nefesh (preservation of life) one is allowed to become Tammay.

Pinchas risked his future by killing someone. But as a result instead of invalidating himself from a chance at priesthood he gained the high priest role for himself and all his future descendants. This is counterintuitive,paradoxical. We must not only live with this contradiction we must dwell within the Paradox. We will return to this tension.

(Side Point)

It comes full circle. Zimiri is from Shimon who killed an entire city because of an inappropriate sexual relationship.

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Noach, Pinchas, Eliyahu

In the story of Noach we find Noach does not influence any other members of his generation to do Teshuvah, in fact the Navi calls the flood, "the Waters of Noach". Noach's flaw was that he was not zealous, we have no record of him trying to pressure anyone or try and implore them to do yeshivah.

The Nun and the Chet of Noach went in to Pinchas, these are his middle two letters. A piece of Noach's soul needed to be rectified through Pinchas's zealous action. Pinchas is then given the covenant of Peace which gives him extremely long life. (See source 3)

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Targum Yonatan Ben Uziel adopts a Midrashic interpretation of this verse, claiming that "My covenant of peace" means that Pinchas will live forever so that he will ultimately announce the final redemption. Targum Yonatan here refers to the famous comment of Chazal (Pirkei De-Rabbi Eliezer 47) identifying the prophet Eliyahu as Pinchas. According to tradition, as mentioned in the final verses of Sefer Malakhi, Eliyahu will come before "the great, awesome day of God" to announce the arrival of the long-awaited redemption. The Targum Yonatan claims that it is to this that "My covenant of peace" refers. (See source 5)

The Yalkut Shimoni in Parashat Balak (771) likewise mentions explicitly that Pinchas is Eliyahu. It records God telling Pinchas, "You brought peace between Me and My children – in the future, as well, you are the one who will bring peace between Me and My children."

The Gemara Mesechet Edeyot states " Eliyahu only came to make Shalom in the world"

We also see the same word Kinah used for Eliyahu that was used to refer to Pinchas (Source 6)


This identification of Eliyahu as Pinchas may have a basis in the Talmud, as well. The Gemara in Masekhet Bava Metzia (114a-b) tells the story of Rabba Bar Avuha, who once met Eliyahu in a graveyard. The rabbi asked him, "Are you not a kohen?!" He wondered why Eliyahu was permitted in the cemetery if he was a kohen, given the prohibition against kohanim contracting tum'a. Eliyahu replied that the graves wthose of gentiles, and according to Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, the remains of gentiles render tum'a only upon direct contact; their graves, however, do not generate tum'a. In any event, it emerges from this Gemara that Eliyahu was a kohen, which would obviously accommodate the theory that he was Pinchas. Indeed, Rashi, in his commentary to this Gemara, writes that the Gemara works under this very assumption.

So we see an Ark from Noach who is very timid to Pinchas who steps up to Eliyahu who is very zealous, in fact he is so zealous Hashem needs to take him out of this world and he ascends alive to heaven. This is connected to the Sfornos read of the brit Shalom because Pinchas never dies. However is Eliyahu effective in Safer Mealchim? He is to rough and so we see he must return at the end of days, but this is not the last we see of Eliyahu.

Rabbi Weiss identifies a difference between the Eliyahu of Tanach and the Eliyahu of the Gemara. We are going to go over a few stories of Eliyahu from the Gemara and let us try and understand the charchater of Eliyahu at a deeper level.

In the Aggaditah portion of the Gemara, Eliyahu has a different role then that of the Tanach. He is often disguised as a begged or vagabond.

Story 1: Its not what you think.

One such story is that of Rabbi Joshua ben Levi. The rabbi, a friend of Elijah’s, was asked what favor he might wish. The rabbi answered only that he be able to join Elijah in his wanderings. Elijah granted his wish only if he refrained from asking any questions about any of the prophet’s actions. He agreed and they began their journey. The first place they came to was the house of an elderly couple who were so poor they had only one old cow. The old couple gave of their hospitality as best they could. The next morning, as the travelers left, Elijah prayed that the old cow would die and it did. The second place they came to was the home of a wealthy man. He had no patience for his visitors and chased them away with the admonition that they should get jobs and not beg from honest people. As they were leaving, they passed the man’s wall and saw that it was crumbling. Elijah prayed that the wall be repaired and it was so. Next, they came to a wealthy synagogue. They were allowed to spend the night with only the smallest of provisions. When they left, Elijah prayed that every member of the synagogue might become a leader.

Finally, they came to a very poor synagogue. Here they were treated with great courtesy and hospitality. When they left, Elijah prayed that God might give them a single wise leader. At this Rabbi Joshua could no longer hold back. He demanded of Elijah an explanation of his actions. At the house of the old couple, Elijah knew that the Angel of Death was coming for the old woman. So he prayed that God might have the angel take the cow instead. At the house of the wealthy man, there was a great treasure hidden in the crumbling wall. Elijah prayed that the wall be restored thus keeping the treasure away from the miser. The story ends with a moral: A synagogue with many leaders will be ruined by many arguments. A town with a single wise leader will be guided to success and prosperity. “Know then, that if thou seest an evil-doer prosper, it is not always unto his advantage, and if a righteous man suffers need and distress, think not God is unjust.

Story 2 : Tzelem Elokim

The Elijah of legend did not lose any of his ability to afflict the comfortable. The case of Rabbi Eliezer son of Rabbi Simon ben Yohai is illustrative. Once, when walking a beach, he came upon a hideously ugly man—the prophet in disguise. The man greeted him courteously, “Peace be with thee, Rabbi.” Instead of returning the greeting, the rabbi could not resist an insult, “How ugly you are! Is there anyone as ugly as you in your town?” Elijah responded with, “I don’t know. Perhaps you should tell the Master Architect how ugly is this, His construction.” The rabbi realized his wrong and asked for pardon. But Elijah would not give it until the entire city had asked for forgiveness for the rabbi and the rabbi had promised to mend his ways ( Talmud Bavli. Tannit 20B)

Story 3 : The Secret

Elijah used to come to the Bet Midrash/study house of Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi where he would study with Rabbi Yehudah. One day—it was the new moon—Rabbi Yehudah expected Elijah, and waited for him; but Elijah failed to come. The next day, Rabbi Yehudah said to Elijah: “Why are you here a day late?” He replied, “I had to wait until I awoke Abraham, washed his hands, then I waited while he prayed and I put him to rest again; likewise for Isaac and Jacob.” “But why not awake them together?” asked Rabbi Yehudah. “I feared that they would grow too strong in prayer and bring the Messiah before his time.”

Upon hearing this, Rabbi Yehudah began to hatch a plan. He asked Elijah, “And is there a group like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in this world?” Elijah said, “There is R. Hiyyah and his sons. Thereupon Rabbi Yehudah proclaimed a fast and R. Hiyya and his sons were bidden to lead the prayers. Rabbi Hiyyah, with his sons on either side, began to chant the Amidah. As Rabbi Hiyyah chanted, He causes the wind to blow, a wind blew; when he continued and sang, He causes the rain to descend, indeed, the rain descended. When he was about to say, He revives the dead, the universe trembled. In heaven it was asked, “Who has revealed our secret to the world?” “Elijah,” the angels replied. Elijah was therefore brought and smitten with sixty flaming lashes. So he went, disguised himself as a fiery bear, entered among Rabbi Hiyyah and his sons and scattered them. (Baba Metzia 85b)

Story 4 : Voices in the Ruins

An ancient story: Rabbi Yosi said, “Once I was traveling and I entered one of the ruins of Jerusalem to pray. Elijah, always remembered for the good, came and waited for me at the entrance until I had finished my prayer. After I finished my prayer, he said to me: ‘Shalom alecha, my master!’ And I said to him, ‘Shalom alecha, my master and my teacher!’ He said to me, ‘My son, why did you enter this ruin?’ I said to him, ‘to pray.’ And he responded, ‘You should have prayed on the road.’ And I replied to him, ‘I was afraid lest the passers by interrupt me’. He said to me, ‘You should have prayed a shortened prayer.’ And so I learned three things from him: I learned that one does not enter a ruin, and I learned that one prays on the road, and I learned that one who prays on the road prays a shortened prayer.”

“Elijah said to me, ‘My son, what voice did you hear in that ruin?’ And I said, ‘I heard a heavenly voice cooing like a dove and saying: “Woe to the children on account of whose sins I destroyed my house and burned my Temple and exiled them among the nations.’”

“He said to me, ‘By your life and breath, it is not only in that moment that she speaks this way. Rather, each day, three times a day, she speaks, cooing like a dove: “wooo, wooo, woe to the children...” And not only that, but whenever Israel enters its synagogues and study houses and recites the Kaddish, saying, “Y’hei shemei hagadol m’vorach/May his great name be blessed,” the Holy One, blessed be He, shakes his head and says: “Happy is the king who is thus praised in his house! What a thing for the father who banished his children to hear! And woe to those children who are banished from their father’s table.’” (Babylonian Talmud, Berachot 3a)

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Conclusion : The meaning of Peace.

In this episode Pinchas is the fulfillment of what Aharon began. Eliyahu is the fulfillment of Pinchas, and he is finished when Mashiyach comes.

Kiseh Shel Eliyahu- The Bris is a sign of completion. Because Eliyahu said that the Jews were not following the covenant he must show up at every Bris.

We mention Eliyahu in the benching .

The Paradox of peace is how to achieve it. We have Noach at one end and we have Eliyahu at the other end, neither are effective.

Makes an appearance at our Sader, but why do we have to open the door for him?