Pinchas 5778

RABBI AVROHOM PARMETT

(פינחס בן אלעז בן אהרן הכהן השיב את חמתי (במדבר כה:יא

Pinchas, the son of Elozor, the son of Aharaon HoKohein, alleviaed My wrath …(Bamidbar 25,11).

Rashi explains that Hashem delineates Pinchas’ lineage until Aharon Hakohen as a response to those who degraded Pinchas and his actions. They claimed that Pinchas, whose mother’s father, Yisro, was at one point involved in Avoda Zara, yet he murdered a Nasi of one of the Shevatim. To counter this, Hashem specfically referred to Pinchas as a grandson of Aharon HaKohen.
Both the claims of the people against Pinchas as well as, l’havdil, Hashem’s response require explanation. Why do Pinchas’ grandfathers’ deeds have any bearings on and exacerbate their allegations against him? And furthermore, why does the fact that he is a descendant of Aharon mitigate that?
Chazal consider Aharon the paradigm of “Sholom”, of peace. In Avos D’Rabi Nosson (Perek 12,1), Hillel refers to Aharon as “Oheiv Sholom”, one who loves peace. In a later Mishna (12,3), it explains how Aharon would separately approach two parties embroiled in conflict, and describe to them how he witnessed the other party in anguish, admitting their faults and regretting what they had done to their friend. Aharon would then approach the other party and do the same. The parties would become convinced of the others’ remorse and embrace them upon their next meeting, ready to proceed peacefully.
“Sholom” by way of creating peace and harmony between friends, spouses, and groups, as well as preventing and defusing conflict, was the form which Klal Yisroel learned to emulate. Therefore, when Pinchas acted as he did, there were those among Klal Yisroel who viewed it as the anithesis of peace. They perceived it as an act of violence that was divisive; causing conflict within Klal Yisroel by attacking a Nasi of an entire Shevet. In no way could Pinchas’ actions be attributed to his grandfather Aharon, the ultimate purveyor of Sholom.
In the face of this, Hashem specifically pointed out Pinchas’ lineage as a grandson of Aharon HaKohein. Hashem was teaching Klal Yisroel that true Sholom only exists in the light of the Torah. If there were to appear someone like Zimri, who despite being a Nasi in his own right, would brazenly commit an act which is against Hashem’s will, then not only is it proper to eradicate him, it is actually an act of “Sholom” to do so.
When Aharon HaKohein would mitigate machlokes between parties, what characterized this as an act of Sholom was not simply because he mended the fractured relationship between the two. It was because as a result of their relationship being restored, there existed less discord within Klal Yisroel as a whole. This by extension brings Klal Yisroel closer to Hashem. We have seen in many instances, such as the prelude to Matan Torah, that in order for Klal Yisroel to have a proper relationship with Hashem, there must be unity among the nation as a whole. Lack of this unity in the form of sinas chinam, baseless hatred, was the catalyst of the destruction of the Second Bais Hamikdosh.
When Zimri commited his aveirah before Klal Yisroel in an open act of rebellion against Hashem, R”L, he threatened to damage Klal Yisroel’s relationship with Hashem and commit a heinous Chilul Hashem. To refrain from acting against Zimri, even in the name of “Sholom”, would further sever this relationship, as it would allow Zimri to sin unobstructed. Therefore, when Pinchas took action an killed Zimri, he was taking an active role in neutralizing that potential damage to our connection with Hashem. Since the purpose of Sholom, in any form, is to do just that, Pinchas’ actions were deemed those of true Sholom. This was the lesson Hashem wanted Klal Yisroel to realize.
In his sefer Chochma Vo’Daas (Parshas Beshalach), Rav Moshe Shternbuch shlit”a relates how the Chasam Sofer was legendary in both his zealousness to uphold the Torah in the face of those who sought to undermine it, as well as in his deep concern for sholom among the Jewish people. When the maskilim sought to label these characteristics as contridactory, the Chasam Sofer responded that his love for peace within Klal Yisroel was actually the motivation for his relentless pursuit against the wicked, as they are catalysts of discord between Klal Yisroel and their Father, as well as within Klal Yisroel themselves.
May Hashem grant us the clarity to discern when and how to employ Sholom properly in every situation, and may we be zocheh to see this Bain HeMetzorim transform into the Geula Shelaimoh.


RABBI AVROHOM MILLER

Last week we discussed how the use of municipal water to fill a mikvah was fairly common. Rabbi David Miller was not the only Rabbi to promote its use.
In 1905, in Seattle, Rabbi Gedalyah Halpern oversaw the construction of the community mikvah and permitted the use of city water. Rabbi Rosenfeld, a leading posek in St. Louis, sent him a letter explaining why he felt it was posul, and suggested using snow as an alternate source of water.
Rabbi Halpern replied that snow was not an option in Seattle, and explained why he permitted tap water. He then sent the correspondence to rabbonim in New York, who wrote back agreeing with him that it was kosher.
Rabbi Esrig moved to Portland, ME, In 1918. There, too, he found the mikvah, built by his predecessor whom he called a “Gaon Niflah”, filled with city water. He admitted that this was the method followed by the majority of mikvaos in America. His rebbe, Rav Kook, wrote that one should build a mikvah following even minority opinions. Rabbi Esrig felt, however, that once it was built, to change it would beמוציא לעז , cast aspersions on what was previously done. (see Kesubos 103a).
Rabbi Nissan Telushkin (1881-1970) wrote sefer Taharas Mayim on the halachos of mikvah. He previously published an article in 1937 in a Torah journal analyzing the issue. He began by stating that many rabbonim were machmir and would not permit tap water, due to their lack of knowledge as to the true facts.
In order to consider the potential halachic problems involved, he consulted with hydraulic engineers from the New York City Department of Water Supply to understand how the water is transported. He also thanked Rabbi Miller (see last week) for the information he provided as an expert in this field.
In short, Rabbi Telushkin explained why most of the potential concerns were not halachic issues:
1) Pipes are affixed to the ground and not considered utensils;
2) Curves of pipes are not meant to hold water, but to allow water to flow;
3) The human element in an electric pump is far removed from the mechanism and too indirect (Grama);
4) Meters do not have a hollow area in which water is contained, and are thereby not a utensil;
He does concede that there are three holding tanks that would compromise the kashrus of the water in them and describes which neighborhoods they serve where city water should not be used.
Based on his research, he writes that although it is generally permitted to use city water, one must investigate the water system to make sure it fulfills all criteria.
All of this changed in 1949 with the arrival of the Helmetzer Rebbe in Cleveland. He was an expert in mikvaos, and he started visiting cities around the country to inspect and improve the kashrus of mikvaos.
One issue he dealt with extensively in his seforim was the disqualification of city water. He was invited to Seattle by a group of concerned residents looking to upgrade their mikvah. When he discovered that they were using city water, he demanded that the situation be rectified ASAP.
The then-current Rabbi Shapiro refused to make changes. He noted that the Seattle mikvah had a 50-year history of using city water. Hoping to put pressure on Rabbi Shapiro, Rabbi Meir Amsel, editor of the monthly Torah journal Hamaor and a staunch supporter of the Helmetzer Rebbe, wrote an open letter in the June 1957 issue. He thanked the Helmetzer for all of his efforts, and appealed to rabbonim to rectify this matter, without mentioning Seattle by name.
He also printed letters written by the Satmar Rebbe, Harav Eliezar Silver, and Harav E. M. Bloch decrying this practice. Satmar Rebbe: How could one consider a mikvah kosher based on the information provided by non-Jews? Rabbi E.M. Bloch: I am amazed to hear that there are those who apply what the Aruch Hashulchan wrote to our complicated water system.
After a series of letters from the parties involved, in April 1958 a letter was printed from the “Avreichim from Seattle” addressed to the Helmetzer, informing him that the rabbonim had agreed to make the necessary renovations, and thanking him for his efforts.
By the end of his life in 1990, the Helmetzer was credited with helping to repair or construct 200 mikvaos throughout Europe, North and South America, Australia, and South Africa, ensuring that they met the highest standards of kashrus.