In this parsha we learn about the reward of Pinchas. Hashem promises him a special covenant of piece. It is also known in many sources[1] that Pinchas is the same person as Eliyahu, a prophet mentioned in the book of Melachim. What was the covenant Pinchas earned and what does the statement “Pinchas is Eliyahu” mean?




In the end of the last week's parsha we learned about the last advice of Bilam of how to entice the Jewish people[2]. One of the wisest men of antiquity gave an advice that was unheard of, in order to corrupt the Jewish people. The women were deliberately (and forcefully[3]) used in order to "fight" the enemy[4]. Unfortunately many Jewish men fell into their trap. At a later time, our sages would make many Rabbinical decrees to avoid closeness between Jews and non-Jews that may lead to assimilation[5]. At this time however, even the wine of non-Jews was still permitted, and therefore the Jewish people were easily caught.


The Jewish men would come to the market place in order to purchase materials at discounted prices, and when entering the tents of the women they had nothing but commerce in mind. However, after offering strong Moabite wine the lady showed closeness and started behaving indecently, and they would not be able to control themselves any longer[6]. Besides the sin of forbidden relations, the women were able to get the Jewish men to actually worship their idol - the Baal Peor. Its’ worship consisted of going to the bathroom in front of it, which most people did not consider it forbidden and thus ended up transgressing the prohibition of idolatry without fully realizing the impact of it[7].


Now, as it usually happens when the Jewish people sin, there are some misguided leaders who think of ways to "explain" their transgressions and even find a halachik base for it. Even though at times it may be justified, many times it causes even greater damage: now people think they are not doing anything forbidden and are will not try to repent. In the generation of the wilderness, Zimri, a leader from the tribe of Shimon decided to be the one to find an excuse for the people of his tribe who were more that anyone else affected by the Moabite trap. In a way his actions were "Leshem Shamaim[8]", and he even argued with Moshe publicly regarding the possible permission of formerly converting and marrying the Moabite and Midianite women. In order to show the validity of his halachik decision, he himself publicly took a Midianite princess into a tent.


At a time like this it was very difficult to know how to act. We were dealing with a unique situation when it’s a mitzvah to stop the transgression even at the cost of life of the sinner, but it is "Halacha, but we don't teach it[9]". The meaning of this statement is that a person who is jealous for Hashem's honor is allowed to kill the one who is publicly having relations with a non-Jewish woman, but if this person would come to the Rabbis and ask if he should do it, they do not suggest it. Indeed it's a very dangerous task, since in this case he is considered an attacker and the sinner can kill him to save his own life!


Even Moshe himself did not try to kill Zimri[10]. Pinchas was the one to take this task. Many miracles happened to him until he was able to complete the task successfully[11]. Even though his act seemed destructive[12], it actually saved the Jewish people. Pinchas became a very special person in our history. He is the example of a "kanai" the one who is jealous for the Divine Honor. As a reward Hashem established an eternal covenant with him.  


One of the changes that happened to Pinchas himself was the change in his soul structure. It is known[13] that the soul of a person is not one entity, but rather is a composition of different parts. Throughout lifetime, the soul composition can actually change depending on a person's mitzvos or sins. At certain times a person may have "extra" souls attached only temporarily, while at other times they may permanently join him. According to Kabala, after his act Pinchas acquired the souls of Nadav and Avihu[14] (Aharon's sons that died when bringing Ketores, see Vayikra, 10) He also acquired two other souls[15] called Eliyahu. At a later time in his life, one of these souls became dominant and that's why he was referred to as Eliyahu from then on.


Eliyahu appears in the book of Melachim (1:17:1) without any warning. Nothing is described regarding who this man was, he is viewed as a semi-mystical figure living in a distant place and only at times appearing among people. In that generation Eliyahu did almost the same rectification as in the time of Moshe. This time the people of the Northern Kingdom were worshiping idols and were committing other transgressions[16]. Hoping to stop this once and for all, Eliyahu gathered the people on Mount Carmel and publicly demonstrated Hashem's power. The people were tremendously impressed and at Eliyahu's command they killed the idolatrous priests of Baal. However their repentance was short-lived and Eliyahu himself had to run away from the Northern Kingdom where queen Izevel[17] threatened to kill him.


As we know Eliyahu never died but ascended to heaven alive[18]. What he does now is similar to what he was doing when he was still in this world. He appears in various situations and helps rectify the Jewish people. We are promised (Malachi 3:23) that he will announce the coming of Moshiach[19]. And we will wait for his announcement every day.



Go to previous


Go to next




[1] See for example Yalkut Shimoni, Rabeinu Bachye, Baal Haturim, Ohr Hachaim Hakodesh and Sforno on the beginning of this week’s parsha.


[2] See our words to parshas Balak. Note that the written Torah does not openly state that the immoral behavior of the daughters of Moav and Midian was a result of Bilam's advice. This is a tradition of our sages in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 106a) based on his words (Bemidbar 25:14): "I will now give you advice ..." and it is also supported by the Torah's description of Bilam's death (see Bemidbar 31:16, see however Ramban 25:1).


[3] See Zohar Chadash on Rus (1:4).


[4] At later times similar strategies were used quite often and even in the Soviet Union, there existed a special government department that used female agents to incite the visiting foreigners and later force them into cooperation using blackmail.


[5] See Talmud Shabbos 17b.


[6] This was especially true for the men of that generation who were not accustomed to see improperly dressed women.


[7] There is a deeper reason of why the Moabites would worship their "god" in such a disgusting manner, (see Zohar 3:238a).

[8] See Divrey Yoel, Pinchas, page 167.


[9] See Tur, Even Haezer 16.


[10] As we mentioned in parshas Chukas, according to the GR"A this was Moshe's fourth mistake. As a punishment, he was not brought to be buried the Land of Israel after his death.


[11] See Talmud, Sanhedrin 82b.


[12] Indeed he was first despised by the people for killing a leader of Israel. 


[13] See Arizal's Shaar Hagilgulim where many details of soul structures are discussed.


[14] Zohar 3:217a. See also Afikey Yam, Zevachim 101b that this is what’s meant by our sages (brought in Rashi 25:13) that Pinchas only became a full-fledged Kohen after this episode. After all, he now acquired the souls of anointed kohanim.


[15] See Arizal, Shaar Hagilgulim 32nd introduction, see also Malbim, (Melachim 2:2:9).


[16] See Pirkey Derabbi Eliezer, 28 and Radal there.


[17] See Arizal, Shaar Hagilgulim 32nd introduction regarding why Eliyahu was afraid of Izevel even though he was supposed to be invulnerable.


[18] See Seder Olam, 17.


[19] See however Rambam, the Laws of Kings 12:2; see Vayoel Moshe 1:51.