Friday, 28 March 2008

Who is PINCHAS [Ben Elazar the Kohen (Phineas the son of Eleazer)]?


PERSONALITY

PINCHAS IS ELIJAH! (Yalkut Shimoni, Torah 771)

His mother's father descended from Joseph, his mother's mother from Jethro. (Sotah 43a)

Whoever sees Phineas in a dream will have a miracle wrought for him. (Berachos 56b)

An angel of Hashem went up from Gilgal to Bochim. (Judges 2:1) Was it not Phineas, rather than an angel? [Yes,] but when Divine Inspiration rested upon him, his face was like a burning torch [thus resembling an angel] (Vayikra Rabba 1:1).

Hashem sent a man who was a prophet to the Children of Israel (Judges 6:8). That was Phineas (Seder Olam Rabba 20)

Divine Inspiration left Phineas for two hundred years (Koheles Rabbah 10:15).

Phineas became an angel who lives forever, and [he will be] the harbringer of redemption at the End of Days (Targum Yonasan, Bamidbar 25:12)

SLAYS ZIMRI

Phineas did not become a priest until he had slain Zimri. Rav Ashi says: Until he made peace among the Tribes [i.e. between the Tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh, and the rest of Israel] (See Joshua 22) (Zevachim 101b)

He does not bear the disgrace of crimes committed by close friends (Psalms 15:3). This refers to Phineas, who was of the Tribe of Levi. Zimri was of the [companion] Tribe of Simeon, yet as soon as Zimri committed the [nefarious] act, [Phineas] slew him, so that Israel would not be disgraced by what he did (Shocher Tov 15:6).

Had Zimri separated [from Cozbi] at the time that Phineas slew him, [Phineas] would have been put to death [for killing him without Zimri having been judged guilty in court]. Had Zimri turned around and slain Phineas, [Zimri] would not have been put to death [for murder], for [Phineas] had attacked him (Sanhedrin 82a)

Phineas said, "There is no one who is ready to risk his life by slaying [Zimri]. Where are the lions? A lion cub is Judah (Genesis 49:9); Dan is a cub (Deuteronomy 33:22). When Phineas saw that no man of Israel was doing anything, immediately he took a spear in his hand (Numbers 25:7) (Yerushalmi Sanhedrin 10:2)

Phineas expounded, "A horse who goes into war risks his life for his master. How much more so [should] I [risk my life] for the sanctification of the Name of the Holy One, Blessed is He!" He began to ponder: "What shall I do? Alone I cannot prevail. Two can overpower one; can one overpower two? can one overpower two?" While he was pondering, the epidemic raged [among the Israelites] (Shemos Rabbah 33:5)

He took a spear in his hand (Exodus 25:7). He removed the blade from the handle and concealed it in his clothing. Leaning on the handle as if it were a walking stick, he went [over to] the Tribe of Simeon. [There] he said, "Where have we found the Tribe of Levi to be greater than the Tribe of Simeon? [I.e., why should the Tribe of Levi abstain from the daughters of Moab, when the Tribe of Simeon does not (Rashi)?]" They said, "Let him also gratify his desire." He entered [the tent in which Zimri and Cozbi were. Those who were outside said, "Evidently] the Sages have permitted it." [All these things he did to gain entrance safely to the tent of Zimri and Cozbi] (Sanhedrin 82a)

Phineas waited until [Zimri's] strength was dissipated. [Then he entered] (ibid 82b)

Twelve miracles were made for Phineas at that moment:
  1. The Holy One Blessed is He, stuck [Cozbi and Zimri] together and they did not separate, which would have prevented Phineas from being allowed to killl them
  2. They did not scream [for help]
  3. He [plunged] the spear directly into their genitals
  4. The iron did not slip out of the spear
  5. The lintel was raised so that he could take them out [on his spear]
  6. He carried them throughout the camp of Israel without tiring;
  7. He lifted them with his right arm for all to see their act, yet they were unable to harm him
  8. The wood did not break under the heavy load
  9. The iron became as long as both of them so that they did not fall from it
  10. An angel came and turned them over so that all would see their shame;
  11. They remained alive all the while that he was carrying them so that [Phineas,] a priest, would not become unclean through contact with a corpse
  12. Their blood solidified and did not spill on him (Tragum Yonasan, Bamidbar 25:8).
He came and threw them down before the Omnipresent and said, "Shall 24,000 of Israel die because of these?" (Sanhedrin 44a).

[When he said this,] the ministering angels sought to knock him down, [but G-d] told them, "Leave him. He is a zealot descended from a zealot [Levi, who was zealous in the incident of Dinah], an appeaser of [G-d's anger descended from an appeaser of [G-d's] anger [Aaron, who stayed the epidemic that followed Korah's rebellion]" (Sanhedrin 82b)

The members of the Tribe of Simeon rose to strike him, [whereupon] an angel descended and smote some among them. Seeing that [the angel] sought to annihilate them, Phineas arose and prayed (Psalms 106:30) (Bamidbar Rabbah 20:25)

They sought so excommunicate him [for they thought he was not acting out of true zealousness (Pnei Moshe)] until the Spirit of Holiness hurried and said: It shall be to him and to his seed after him the covenant of everlasting priesthood, because he was zealous for his G-d and atoned for the Children of Israel (Numbers 25:13) (Yerushalmi Sanhedrin 9:7)

BATTLE WITH MIDIAN

When the wicked Balaam saw Phineas the priest pursuing him, [Balaam] cast a spell and flew up in the air. Immediately Phineas pronounced the Great and Holy Name, flew after him, and pulled him down. Balaam began to plead with Phineas: "If you let me live, I swear to you that for the rest of my life I will not curse your people." Phineas replied, "Are you not Laban the Aramean who wished to kill the Patriarch Jacob? [Moreover, it was] you [who] went down to Egypt to [incite] the destruction of his descendants. And when they went forth from Egypt, you incited Amalek against them. It is impossible to let you live." Thereupon [Phineas] drew his sword and slew him (Targum Yonasan, Bamidbar 31:8).

When the wicked Balaam saw Phineas, he made his two arms like two tablets of stone and flew upward. Using the Ineffable Name, Phineas too made his two arms like two stone tablets and flew after him, until he found him prostrating before the Throne of Glory. Phineas immediately placed the frontlet of the Holy One, Blessed is He, against him, pulled him down, and brought him before Moses. Then the Sanhedrin tried [Balaam] and executed him (Yalkut Shimoni, Matos 785).

MISCELLANEOUS

Moses sent (Numbers 21:32) Caleb and Phinas to spy (Targum Yonasan).

Joshua dispatched two men - spies - secretly (Joshua 2:1). These were Phineas and Caleb. They went with unswerving dedication and succeeded in their mission... They pretended to be potters and called out, "Pots for sale!" (Bamidbar Rabbah 16:1)

Phineas told [Rahab], "I am a priest, and [since] priests are likened to angels, I do not need to be hidden. Hide my colleague Caleb" (ibid.).

Jepthah vowed "...Whatever comes forth from the doors of my house to meet me... I will offer up for a burnt offering." ... And behold, his daughter came out to meet him (Judges 11:30,31). Was not Phineas available to absolve Jephtah of his vow? [He was, but he] said, "It is he who needs me; why should I go to him?" And Jepthah said, "I am head of the captains of Israel; why should I go to him?" Between the two of them, that girl perished [i.e. she was sent into seclusion and never married. Therefore] both of them were punished... Divine Inspiration was removed for Phineas, as it is written, Phineas son of Eleazar had been prince over them [in the past], for Hashem had been with him (I chronicles 9:20) (Bereishis Rabbah 60:3).

Joshua wrote his Book [Joshua], and Phineas finished it (Bava Basra 15a)

For more information about Pinchas ben Elazar HaKohen, see Numbers 25:10 onwards.

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