Parshat Pinchas

If A Person Sees Himself
As Wicked, He Is Easy
Picking For the Yetzer

Bamidbar is known as the
Book of Numbers because
it begins with a census of
the Jewish people and then
there is another census in
Parshas Pinchas, towards
the end of the sojourn in
the wilderness. In this
week's census, there is a
pattern that repeats itself
in the enumeration of all
the sub-families of the
various tribes. The very
first time this pattern is
introduced, Rashi cites a
Medrash – in connection
with the sub-family of
Reuvein's son Chanoch
[Bamidbar 26:5]. The
Torah refers to the family
as "Mishpachas
HaChanochI. The name of
the head of the family is
prefixed with the letter Hay
and followed by the letter
Yud. These two letters
(Yud-Hay) represent the
name of G-d which thus
surrounds the family
name. According the
Medrash cited by Rashi,
the nations of the world
would mock the Jews'
insistence on tracing their
lineage to specific family
divisions: "Why do these
trace their ancestry by their
tribes? Are they under the
impression that the Egyptians did
not have their way with their
mothers? If the Egyptians ruled
over the Israelites' bodies, how
much more is it true that they
ruled over their wives?"
Therefore, the Medrash
continues, "That is why the Holy
One, Blessed is He, placed His
Name upon them – with the
letter Hay on one side of the
family name and the letter Yud
on the other side, to say 'I testify
about them that they are the
children of their fathers.'" This is
also stated clearly by Dovid
HaMelech "Tribes of G-d (Yud-
Hay), a testimony for
Israel" [Tehillim 122:4]. G-d
testifies, as it were, that Klal
Yisrael remained pure and
unadulterated in all their years in

But let as ask ourselves a
question: Is it realistic to expect
that this will convince the
Gentiles? The Gentiles are clearly
not going to be convinced by the
formulations: "HaChanochI",
"HaPaluI", "HaChetzronI" that
the lineage of the Jewish families
was untainted. So who is the
Torah trying to impress here?

Furthermore, the Chasam Sofer
asks – if this formulation is
supposed to testify that there
were not any extra-marital
Rabbi Frand on Parshat Pinchas
relationships amongst the
Jewish people in Egypt, then
why was this type of
formulation not used in the
first census at the beginning
of the Book of Bamidbar?

The Sefer Heimah
Yenachamuni from the
present Tolner Rebbe (Rav
Yitzchak Menachem
Weinberg) of Jerusalem has
an approach which answers
both these questions. Rav
Weinberg prefaces his
discussion by referencing the
Talmudic analysis [Sanhedrin
107] of Dovid HaMelech's
prayers for forgiveness after
his "sin" with BatSheva. The
Talmud expounds on the
pasukim in Tehillim which
allude to those prayers
[Tehillim 119:13-14]: Rav
Dostai of Biri expounded: To
what is Dovid comparable? To
a Kusi merchant who lures
customers into buying more
than they were expecting to
buy, by selling them a little
bit at once and then
convincing them to buy more
and more. Dovid first said
"Shgiyos mi yavin" (who can
discern mistakes) and G-d
told him that unwitting
mistakes are forgiven. Then
he continued "m'nistaros
nakeyni" (from unknown sins
cleanse me). G-d told him
those too were forgiven. Then
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Dovid proceeded "Gam m'zeydim chasoch avdecha" (also from
intentional sins spare Your servant). This too G-d forgave him.
Dovid then said "Al yimshelu bee" (Let it be Your Will that the
Rabbis not talk about me negatively for my actions)". G-d
granted him this request as well.

Rashi in Tehillim explains why Dovid HaMelech is compared to a
Kusi peddler. He gives an example. It is like someone comes to
the door and asks for a glass of water. The house owner readily
agrees to this request. Once he drinks the glass of water, he
asks for a piece of onion, and then when that request too is
granted he asks for a little salt to go with the onion. Next he
asks for a slice of bread to go with the salt and onion so that he
will not be eating such sharp foods by themselves on an empty

This is the parable. Had he asked for the bread right away, the
homeowner would have turned him down for making an
unreasonable request. So he began with a very innocent
request and worked his way up gradually, making it hard for the
homeowner to say no at any point in time. So too, Dovid
initially only asked for forgiveness for unintentional sins. Then
he worked his way up to the intentional and more rebellious
sins. But in climbing up this ladder of requests, the biggest
thing that Dovid asked for is that the Rabbis not disassociate
themselves from him because they considered him to be a
sinner. This was the ultimate request. That request too was

The Tolner Rebbe asks why Dovid was so worried about this. In
answering the question, the Tolner Rebbe makes a very
important point regarding human behavior. The point is that if a
person considers himself in his own eyes a sinner and a spiritual
midget, then he is easy pickings for the Evil Inclination. A
person should never look at himself as though he is wicked. If
he considers himself to be a "rasha" then the Evil Inclination
can come to him and say "What do you care, you are a "rasha"
anyway!?" There is nothing wrong with a "nobody" sinning!
Everyone must have a sense of self-worth. If a person believes
in himself, if he looks at himself as an important person and as
a 'Ben Torah' and as a 'Talmid Chochom,' then he will yell at
himself "How can I do this!?" If one sees himself in his own
eyes like he is the dregs of society, then that is how he will act.
He is easy prey to fall even further, because there is nothing to
restrain him. This is how the Tolner Rebbe explains Dovid's plea
to the Almighty. After he received atonement from the
Almighty, he was worried about one other thing. He said,
"People will no longer look at me as a righteous person, as a
man of integrity. If they are going to view me in that way, it will
have an effect on me. I too will look at myself as if I am
wicked!" Therefore, after he achieved forgiveness on all levels
of iniquity -– be they unintentional or intentional or rebellious –
26 Old Mill Road, Great Neck, NY 11023 (516) 487-6100 Shabbat Announcements Parshat Pinchas 5774
he said "Please one more thing: Let the Rabbis treat me with
respect, so that I will be able to treat myself with respect!"

With this preface, the Tolner Rebbe explains the Medrash
regarding Klal Yisrael. We asked, "What difference does it
make to the nations that the names of the families of Israel
are surrounded by the letters of G-d's Name as testimony to
their purity?"

The answer is that in fact it makes no difference to the
nations of the world. But it will make a difference to the
Jewish people! It is important for us to know and to have
Divine Certification that we are not illegitimate. We should
know and appreciate the fact that our lineage is pure. With
this approach, the Tolner Rebbe answers the question of the
Chasam Sofer – why did they not need this same thing in the
census at the beginning of Bamidbar when they first came
out of Egypt? It is because if the Goyim came to that first
generation that left Egypt and told them "Your mothers were
unfaithful!" those who heard such charges would have
dismissed them outright. "I know that is not true. That is
baloney!" In that first generation, that which the Goyim
might have said would not have had an effect.

But now, 40 years later, that generation is all dead. The new
generation that is coming into Eretz Yisrael had no first-hand
knowledge of what transpired in Egypt. A little voice might go
off in their heads when they hear allegations that their
mothers were dominated during the years of slavery by
Egyptian masters and plant seeds of doubt: "Maybe they are
right. Maybe I am illegitimate. Maybe we do not possess the
pure lineage tracing back to the Patriarchs that we think we
possess." That would have a very negative effect on their
self-perception and self-image.

Therefore, G-d testified: Perish the thought. Not true! G-d
surrounded each family patriarch with the letter of His Divine
Name to personally testify, as it were, to the purity of their
lineage. For it is very important for each and every person to
appreciate the greatness of who he is and who he comes
from. The more a person realizes who he is and believes in
himself and considers himself to be a Ben Torah, the more he
is protected from the wiles of the Yetzer Harah.

Great Neck Synagogue
Shabbat Activities Program
26 Old Mill Road, Great Neck , NY 11023
Dale Polakoff, Rabbi
Ian Lichter, Assistant Rabbi
Dr. Ephraim Wolf ,z”l, Rabbi Emeritus
Zeev Kron, Cantor
Eleazer Schulman, z”l, Cantor Emeritus
Rabbi Sholom Jensen, Youth Director
Zehava & Dr. Michael Atlas, Youth Directors
Mark Twersky, Executive Director
Rabbi Avraham Bronstein, Program Director
Dr. Hal Chadow, President
Harold Domnitch, Chairman of the Board
Dena Block, Yoetzet Halacha 516-320-9818
GNS Yoetzet Halacha Dena Block welcomes your
questions about mikvah, observance of taharat
hamishpacha (halacha relating to married life) and
women's health, as it connects to Jewish law.
Reach out to her at:
Phone: (516) 320-9818Email:
All conversations/emails are strictly confidential



Saturday, 14 Tammuz
Trudy Friedman for Carl Lederer
Hyman Katz for Israel Katz
Edward Mazur for Phil Mazur
Dale Polakoff for William Rosenzweig
Phyllis Safdieh for Aaron Shampan
Sunday, 15 Tammuz
Zehava Atlas for Philip Machnikoff
Samuel Levitt for Geraldine Levitt
Tina Machnikoff for Philip Machnikoff
Kenneth S. Magida for Bessie Magida
Daniella Muller for Philip Machnikoff
Payman Rabiei for Gohar bat Benyamin
Tuesday, 17 Tammuz
Carol Adamsky for Abraham Adamsky
Elena Berkowitz for David Fridman
Rafael Gad for Sara Gad
Leslie Kahn for Nathan Kahn
Arthur Pomerantz for Ruth Pomerantz
Payman Rabiei for Pari Bat Meyer
Wednesday, 18 Tammuz
Marc Gottlieb for Herman Gottlieb
Morris Nasser for Rafael Nasser
Thursday 19 Tammuz
Susan Goldman for Oscar Ring
Asher Pirouzian for Ayoub Pirouzian
Friday, 20 Tammuz
Felix Glaubach for Baruch Glaubach
Myra Honig for Joan Scheiner
Leo R. Mindick for Sam Rubinstein
Rose Weiss for Sabina Fajg
SUN. JULY 20:The bus trip to the Jewish Museum has been

SUN. AUG 17, 1:10 pm: Baseball: Jewish Heritage Day at
Citifield. Mets vs Cubs. Details to follow.

SUN. SEPT 14 10:00am: Breakfast and talk by
William Helmreich on the Jewish aspects of his new best
selling book, "The New York Nobody Knows: Walking 6,000
Miles in the City". All welcome.
Mazal Tov to Dr. Mark Gersten on his
engagement to Beth Voystock of Harrisburg,
Mazal Tov to Ira & Lori Rosenfeld on the
engagement of their daughter, Dina, to
Daniel Fromm.
Mazal Tov to Ellen & Gershon Bodner on
the birth of a granddaughter, Ava Harper,
born to their children Keren & Eric Newman.
Mazal Tov to Susan & Michael Castle on
the birth of a second granddaughter born to
their children Carly & Daniel Castle.
Mazal Tov to Gila & George Sameyah on
the engagement of their daughter Tiffany
Shira Rina Sameyah to Chaim Sankari.
Mazal Tov to Joseph & Farahnaz Sameyah
on the engagement of their daughter Candice
to Dr. David Shokrian of Great Neck.
In an effort to allow the community to reach out to our
members who have had any medical issues that have
precluded their coming to GNS, we will include a corner in
the Shabbat Announcements for any names to be distributed
to the congregation. Of course, those who wish to keep any
news confidential can continue to do so, without being in-
cluded. Please inform us of anyone who should be included in
this section of the announcements. This section in our newslet-
ter is to let people know that we are thinking of them even if
they cannot be in Shul at this time and to encourage people to
call, email or visit when appropriate. Names for a mishabay-
rach should continue to be given in Shul at time of davening
and will not be listed in this section.
Please join us on Monday, July 14th at Fresh Meadows
Country Club for a wonderful day of golf with an all day BBQ,
ladies tennis followed by lunch, a spa/pool day, card games/
mahjong lessons, men’s tennis and a sunset cocktail party,
with our million dollar Jet Blue Challenge followed by a lovely
buffet dinner, with prizes, raffles and auctions. Event Brochure
for Registration/Information will be mailed shortly. For addi-
tional information re: sponsorships/participation, please email
Arnie Flatow at or call 487-8687 ext 133.
Breakfast is sponsored by the Machnikoff, Muller,
Kurlander and Atlas families in memory of their husband
and father Philip Machnikoff, z"l.
The Sisterhood will be having a Krav Maga class on Tuesday,
July 29th at 7pm. Class is limited to the first 20 participants.
Please RSVP to the shul office with a $12 check to insure your
spot. At the door the cost will be $15.
Rabbi Evan Hoffman will be our guest Rabbi in the Main
Sanctuary this Shabbat.

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