Parashas Pinchas

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Am I in Control of my Emotions

Taste of Talmud

The daughters of Tzlafchad had a great love for the land of Israel.  Therefore, they asked for a portion in the Land of Israel.  G-d agreed to their request and told Moshe Rabbeinu to give them a portion in the land as long as they married a member of their father’s tribe, the tribe of Menashe.  This would ensure that these tracts of land would stay within their tribe and not be subject to later inheritance by their husbands or sons from a different tribe. The Talmud says that they actually received three portions in the land.  Why three?  The way the land was divided was based upon who was alive at the time of the Exodus from Egypt.  Their grandfather, Chefer, received a portion which was subsequently divided by his 3 sons, the eldest being Tzlafchad. Being the first born Tzlafchad was entitled to receive a double portion from his father’s inheritance which he in turn bequeathed to his daughters. Tzlafchad himself was also alive at the time of the exodus, so he received a separate, additional portion in the land. Each of these three portions was then divided among Tzlafchad’s five daughters (Tractate Bava Basra 116b).

Taste of Halacha

When Eliezer, the son of Aharon HaKohein, passed away, he was buried in a portion of land that was owned by his son Pinchas (Joshua 24:33).  How did Pinchas, who was a kohein, own a portion of land in the land of Israel if the Kohanim did not receive portions in the initial distribution of portions in the land of Israel?   One possible way that Pinchas could have owned a parcel of land is by inheriting it from his wife who had inherited it from her father. This verse is one of the sources that are brought as a support for the Halacha that when (G-d forbid) a man’s wife passes away, her husband is the first to inherit her.  According to the Rambam, this law of inheritance is Rabbinic because there is an additional possibility that Pinchas could have received a piece of land as a gift from the Jewish nation and not as an inheritance (hence this source would not be a proof). The Raavad is of the opinion that this law is Biblical in origin.  He cites the verse in this week’s Parasha, “He will inherit his relative that is like his flesh, and he will inherit her” (Num. 27:11) as proof for his opinion. From the repetition of the words, “and he will inherit her” the Talmud in Bava Basra (111b) derives that a husband does inherit from his wife’s estate, were   she to  pre-decease him, G-d forbid.

Taste of Parasha

Some say that the land of Israel was divided based on the number of men over the age of twenty who were alive at the time the Jews entered the land of Israel.  The Talmud concludes that in reality there was a complicated calculation that was based both on the number of Jews alive at the time of the Exodus as well as taking into account the numbers per family who were entering the land of Israel (Bava Basra 114b). The Nesivos Shalom (the previous Slonimer Rebbe) uses an idea from the holy Baal Shem Tov (Rabbi Yisroel ben Eliezer,  1698- 1760) to explain the spiritual ramifications of this two-pronged division.  When you have an emotion, it is a gift from G-d.  It is a feeling given to you, to use in the service of G-d.  At times, it is channeled down as an emotion to do something negative.  For example, when a person has a feeling of love for something forbidden, he is being given this feeling so that he could take it and channel it towards love for something good.  Based on this, the Nesivos Shalom explains why it was necessary to incorporate both of these generations into the calculation for dividing the land of Israel.  The Jews who left Egypt were the conduits for many vital emotions.  They took them and bequeathed them to their descendants who in turn took these emotions and channeled them into the service of   G-d in the land of Israel.  This two-step process of taking good qualities that are mixed in with evil and turning them toward the service of G-d is truly our inheritance given to us by both of these generations.    This idea is also conveyed succinctly by King David in Pslams when he says, “Remove evil and do good” (34:15).  According to the Baal Shem Tov this means to remove the evil aspect of an emotion and direct it towards the   service of G-d.

About tasteofyeshiva

RABBI YAIR FRIEDMAN teaches at The Torah School of Greater Washington, and Yeshiva L' Baalei Batim. He is the owner and director of Camp Gevaldig LLC.
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