Zimri and Cozbi

Pinchas received the blessing of Peace (albeit somewhat moderated) for his act of Es Laasos Lashem, in which he didn’t consult his Rebbi, Rabbon shel Yisrael, Moshe Rabeinu for advice. I found a quote attributed to the famed Ishbitzer in Mei Hashiloach (oft quoted by Shlomo Carlebach) and widely considered an Ish Kadosh. He wrote:

“Behold there are ten levels of sexual passion. The first is one who adorns himself and goes out intentionally after a sinful liaison, that is, that he himself pulls toward him the evil inclination [yetzer hara]. After that there are another nine levels and at each level another aspect of freedom is taken from him so that increasingly he cannot escape from sin until the tenth level. At that [level] if he distances himself from the yetzer hara and guards himself from sin with all his power until he has no capacity to protect himself further and still his inclination overpowers him and he does the act, then it is surely the will of God. . . . For Zimri in truth guarded himself from all wicked desires, and when he understood that she [Cozbi] was his soul mate, it was not in his power to release himself from doing this deed. . . . The essence of the matter is that Pinchas thought Zimri was an ordinary adulterer . . . and the depth of the matter eluded him regarding Zimri that she was his soul mate from the six days of creation.”

I don’t get it. What was wrong with Chuppa and Kiddushin? What’s with the Ohel Moed? It seems to me that the Ishbitzer is trying to say that when people dramatically descend  in Madregos, there comes a point that they are no longer in control, and perhaps the power is lacking (challenged is a word I’d be more comfortable with).

I find the quote unnerving. Does someone have a Hesber?

On the contrary, we seem to learn from Adam and Chava, based on Gemora and Medrash that the Snake “raped” Chava, or inserted a “filthy spirit” to impregnate her. It was more than “plain” rape. Was it entrapment, seduction etc?

Cain, is from the union of Chava and the Nachash according to Chazal, at least figuratively. Adam was apparently influenced by Lilith with whom he somehow connected sexually with various Briyos as outcomes of that union.

Isn’t our task, starting from Avos and Imahos through Matan Torah, to reverse the failings of Adam and Chava and restore union between spouses to the level before the Nachash?

This seems to disagree with the Ishbitzer. The Ishbitzer goes on to say words that

Pinchas did not have the wisdom required to understand the situation fully. He saw inappropriate sexuality, and took it upon himself to punish it…but if he could have seen what was really going on, he would have known that Zimri and Cosbi were soulmates, a pairing foreordained at the moment of creation. And if he had known that, he would have behaved in an entirely different way.

Let Eliyahu decide our questions

The Talmud, when faced with a conundrum that cannot be solved, uses the phrase

יהא מונח עד שיבוא אליהו

Let the issue rest until Eliyahu HaNavi comes (back) and advises us of the Halacha


תשבי יתרץ קושיות ואבעיות

ֵEliyahu (HaTishbi) will answer all the questions.

The question is asked: since Moshe Rabbenu was our greatest teacher, why do we wait for Eliyahu (who never died) to answer the questions, surely we should wait for Moshe (who will be resurrected when Mashiach comes) and ask Moshe Rabbenu to Pasken/decide the Halachic conundrums.

Rav Yissacher Shlomo Teichtalהי’’ד

R’ Teichtal הי’’ד

in his celebrated אם הבנים שמחה, explains that to be a Posek, a Halachic decisor, a Rabbi needs to be immersed in the world. A Rosh Yeshivah, for example, who only interacts with the surreal world of his Yeshivah, is not equipped to be a Posek for the masses. All his answers are designed for the שומר נפש, the Yeshivah or Kollel Jew, for whom being יוצא לכל הדעות, acting according to all stringencies, is the norm. Accordingly, since Moshe has not been interacting in our world for thousands of years, he is not suited to be the Posek when the Mashiach comes. Eliyahu HaNovi, however, who did not die, and lives amongst us, so to speak, is more suitable to answer our questions.

It is also for this reason that the משנה ברורה was not considered as acceptable to normative Psak, as the ערוך השלחן. The Chafetz Chaim was considered like the Rosh Yeshivah who lived in his world, and his method of Psak certainly was biased towards accommodating as many opinions as possible. The ערוך השלחן however was also someone who interacted deeply with his community, and for whom the sight of a woman brandishing a chicken to discover whether there was an issue of Kashrus with that chicken, was not unusual. Similarly, although R’ Chaim Soloveitchik ז’ל also known as R’ Chaim Brisker

R’ Chaim Brisker ז’ל

was considered the genius of his generation in terms of learning and innovation, R’ Chaim wasn’t a Posek. When people came to R’ Chaim to ask a question, he referred them to R’ Simcha Zelig Reiger ז’ל,

R’ Simcha Zelig, Av Beis Din of Brisk

the Dayan of Brisk.  (Incidentally, R’ Hershel Jaeger once told me that some descendants of R’ Simcha Zelig live in Melbourne).

Rav Teichtal, takes this one step further. He considers it immaterial that earlier Gedolim, such as the Satmar Rav or R’ Elchanan Wasserman had a negative view of an en masse Aliya to Israel. Rav Teichtal claims that they, like Moshe Rabenu, were not there to witness the changes in the world, and so their Psak, for today, is irrelevant.

R’ Elchanan Wasserman, May God avenge his murder
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