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וביום השבת שני כבשים בני שנה תמימים

And on the Shabbos day: two male lambs in their first year, unblemished. (28:9)

Shabbos bears testimony that Hashem created Heaven and earth. Hashem imbued this day with unique spiritual character, distinguishing it from the other six days of the week, elevating it to a higher level of sanctity. Thus, on Shabbos when the Bais HaMikdash was extant, we could offer a Korban Mussaf, Additional Offering, similar to what is offered on Festivals and holy days. The Sefer HaChinuch explains that when we bring an offering, we fix our thoughts on the significance of the day and its broad degree of sanctity. Man is impacted by his actions. Thus, Hashem commanded us to perform…

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קח לך את יהושע בן נון איש אשר רוח בו ... ונתתה מהודך עליו למען ישמעו כל עדת בני ישראל

Take to yourself Yehoshua ben Nun, a man in whom there is spirit…You shall place some of your splendor upon him, so that the entire assembly of Bnei Yisrael will pay heed. (27:18,20)

Targum Onkelos comments, B’dil di yikablum minei kol k’nishta divnei Yisrael; “So that the entire congregation of Bnei Yisrael will accept him.” Rashi writes, “So that they treat him with respect and fear, in the manner that they treat you.” It is wonderful to have Moshe Rabbeinu’s approval, but is it not superfluous? Once Hashem gave the order, “Take to yourself Yehoshua,” what else was necessary to segue to Yehoshua becoming Moshe’s successor? Is Hashem’s approval insufficient that it was necessary for the people to see that Moshe, too, was on board with this choice? Why did Moshe have to…

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ובני קרח לא מתו

But the sons of Korach did not die. (26:11)

It is not as if Korach had protected his sons by excluding them from his ill-fated debacle. Rashi comments that they had been involved from the very beginning. At the time of the dispute, however, they were meharher bi’teshuvah, had thoughts of repentance in their hearts. Therefore, a place was fortified for them in Gehinnom, Purgatory, and they resided there. This means that the earth beneath them hardened above the spot designated for them in Gehinnom. Thus, they were spared due to the teshuvah thoughts they harbored. This is a powerful and inspiring lesson. Teshuvah saves. When the Ponovezher Rav,…

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פינחס בן אלעזר בן אהרן הכהן השיב את חמתי מעל בני ישראל בקנאו את קנאתי בתוכם... לכן אמר הנני נותן לו את בריתי שלום

Pinchas ben Elazar ben Aharon HaKohen turned back My wrath from upon Bnei Yisrael when he zealously avenged My vengeance among them… Therefore, say: Behold! I give him My covenant of peace. (25:11,12)

The Midrash begins with the statement, B’din hu she’yitol scharo, “It is only halachically correct that Pinchas should receive his just reward. Therefore, I give him the Covenant of Peace.” What is the meaning of the phrase b’din hu, “It is by right (halachically)”? Horav Chaim Soloveitchik, zl, explains that reward is measured and repaid middah k’neged middah, measure for measure. Pinchas’ act of zealousness certainly warranted reward, but could Brisi Shalom, “My Covenant of Peace,” be considered middah k’neged middah for an act of zealousness?  Superficially, Pinchas’ slaying Zimri does not appear to be a peaceful act. Asking such…

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צרור את המדינים

Harass the Midyanim. (25:17)

The Midyanim and Moavim facilitated the plot against the Jewish People by causing them to commit idolatry. They achieved this diabolical goal by inciting the Jewish men to acts of immorality with the pagan women. Tzaror, harass, is a constant form of enmity. Chazal (Midrash, Bamidbar Rabbah 25) teach that one who causes his fellow to sin is worse than one who physically takes his life. One who murders does not cause his fellow to lose his eternal place in the World to Come. One who causes another to sin, however,makes him lose both worlds. We see this from the…

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יפקד ד' אלקי הרוחות לכל בשר איש על העדה

May Hashem, G-d of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man on the assembly. (27:16)

Moshe Rabbeinu expressed his request for a successor in a unique manner, delineating special criteria. He refers to Hashem as “G-d of the spirits of all flesh.” Rashi explains Moshe’s choice of words: “He said to Hashem, ‘It is revealed and known to You the thoughts of each person, and how they differ one from another; appoint a leader who is able to tolerate each and every one of them with their individual attitudes.’” Horav Shlomo Wolbe, zl, explains that an effective leader does not decide on a specific approach to serving Hashem and then impose that approach on all…

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יפקד ד' אלקי הרוחות לכל בשר איש על העדה... ויאמר ד'... קח לך את יהושע בן נון איש אשר רוח בו

May Hashem, G-d of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the assembly… Hashem said… take to yourself Yehoshua bin Nun, a man in whom there is spirit. (27:16,18)

Moshe Rabbeinu chose a special way of addressing Hashem, “God of the spirits of all flesh.” Rather than refer to Hashem’s Omnipresence or wisdom, Moshe chose to speak of Hashem’s knowledge of the intricacies and foibles of the human mind and personality. Every person has his own unique persona and it is crucial for a leader to understand this and to know how to reach out to each person according to his own personal needs and wants. Moshe implied that his successor must embody as much of these Divine characters as humanly possible. In order to accommodate his flock, Moshe’s successor…

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פנחס בן אלעזר בן אהרן השיב את חמתי... לכן אמר הנני נתן לו את בריתי שלום

Pinchas ben Elazar ben Aharon HaKohen, turned back my wrath… therefore say: Behold! I give him My Covenant of peace. (25:11,12)

When an opportunity for greatness appears, most people remain spectators, afraid to make that critical move due to fear of failure, indifference, or just plain laziness. One person, however, will emerge from within the crowd and seize the moment to grab the opportunity. As a result, he will save the day and change the course of his own life. Zimri, Prince of the Tribe of Shimon, blatantly carried out an act of moral turpitude, and, had Pinchas not immediately and decisively intervened, Klal Yisrael would have suffered even greater losses than it did. It took extraordinary courage for Pinchas to…

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פנחס בן אלעזר בן אהרן הכהן

Pinchas ben Elazar ben Aharon HaKohen. (25:11)

The Torah traces Pinchas’ lineage to Aharon HaKohen. What about his maternal grandfather, Yisro? The Torah appears to gloss over his connection to Pinchas. Rashi explains that, as usual, people must find fault with the hero who saves the day. Otherwise, they might look bad, since, after all, why did they not take action? As usual, we put down the individual who acted decisively because it bothers us that he did – and we did not. They brought to our attention that Pinchas descended from Yisro, the Midyanite Priest, who fattened calves for avodah zarah, idol-worship. How could such a…

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פנחס בן אלעזר בן אהרן הכהן השיב את חמתי מעל בני ישראל בקנאו את קנאתי בתוכם

Pinchas ben Elazar ben Aharon HaKohen, turned back my wrath from upon Bnei Yisrael, when he zealously avenged My vengeance among them. (25:11)

Pinchas did not act in a vacuum. The entire nation witnessed his actions. What were they doing? Some were (of course) complaining and disparaging his lineage, claiming that his motives were impure. According to Targum Yonasan, the rest cried and recited Krias Shema. They cried, explains Chezkuni, because Moshe Rabbeinu had instructed them to kill the perpetrators who had sinned with the Midyanite women. It was a difficult order to carry out. Shevet Levi, who were once again empowered to be the righteous executioners, did not seem to have an issue (earlier) when the order came to kill the offenders…

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