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The Allure of Dung

R Pesach Siegel

Parshat Pinchas

Jul 11, 2014

The Allure Of Dung


Parshas Pinchos 5774


After failing to curse the Bnei Yisroel, Bila’am advised Balak to send out Midianite women to trap the Bnei Yisroel in immorality.[1] After luring in their victims they conditioned the act of immorality on the service of avoda zara.[2]


The avoda zara was the worship of the idol Ba’al Pe’or. Ba’al Pe’or was worshiped by defecating on the idol.[3]


Kazbi, the daughter of King Tzur, was originally dispatched to ensnare Moshe Rabeinu. She was propositioned by Zimri, the son of Salu, prince of the tribe of Shimon.


Zimri grabbed Kazbi by the hair and brought her in front of Moshe. He asked Moshe if she is permissible or forbidden due to her Midianite origins. Moshe rendered his decision, “She is forbidden”. Zimri challenged Moshe Rabeinu, “If she is forbidden, then who permitted you to marry Tzipporah, also a daughter of Midian.”[4]


The Targum Yonason records Moshe's reaction. He became angry, cried, and recited kriyas shma.[5]


Moshe Rabeinu was unable to respond. Hashem had caused him to forget the response to this situation.[6]


Pinchos rose to the occasion. He said to Moshe Rabeinu, “You have taught us, Habo’el aramis kanayim pog’im bo. - One who is caught having relations with an Aramite woman, is to be struck down by avengers. He rammed a spear through the innards of the nasi, Zimri, and the princess, Kazbi, killing them both simultaneously. 


The Medrash testifies that this was the first time in the history of Klal Yisroel that they fell prey to the wiles of giluy arayos. The Bnei Yisroel survived the exile in Mitzrayim intact. There was only one recorded instance of giluy arayos in Mitzrayim, and it was unintentional. This is despite the fact that the society of Egypt was rife with immorality.[7] 


Pinchos' quick reaction brought an end to a plague that was raging amongst the Bnei Yisroel.




Why was it integral to Bila’am’s plan to combine the two aveiros of avoda zara and giluy arayos?


Why was the service of Ba’al Peor chosen?


How was Bila’am successful where Mitzrayim failed?


For what reason did Zimri grab Kazbi by her hair?


Why did Moshe Rabeinu recite kriyas shma?


Why was Pinchos chosen to mete out justice instead of Moshe Rabeinu?




When Hashem created the world, He created it with divisions.  He divided the heavens from the earth. Hashem removed Chava from Adam. He separated olam hazeh from olam haba. Once the division has been formed it is possible to be unfaithful to Hashem's purpose in creation.


For example, if a woman would be attached to her husband as Chava was in the beginnings of creation, infidelity would be impossible.


The purpose of the divisions is not to remain apart permanently. The separation is meant to facilitate a "rebonding". The aretz, when separated from shamayim is nothing more than dead waste. It is like a tree severed from its roots. On the surface it still retains the appearance of a strong and mighty tree, but in a short time it will wither and die. It is cut off from its source of nourishment. 


Bilaam assigned the separation between shamayim and aretz a permanent status. The world, in his eyes, was not meant to reconnect to Hashem.  Man was created to exercise his free will as he pleases, without any higher goal or sense of responsibility.


This is the difference between marriage and giluy arayos. Marriage is bonding for a purpose, to reach a higher and loftier goal. It is a reconnection of the segments of one’s self. Immorality is an act of bonding for the sake of disconnecting,


Immorality is Bila’am personified.  His definition of a “relationship” is to unite with his own donkey.[8]


Those who worship avoda zara worship the forces of nature. They separate the forces of nature from the one who created them.


The world is alive because it is one with its creator. Avoda zara severs this bond.


Excrement is the personification of this evil. It emanates from a live being and when it separates from the life of its source, it becomes dead and evil smelling. 




Bila’am’s counsel blurred the dividing line between uniting with Midian for a higher purpose, as in the case of Moshe Rabeinu's marriage, and that of a self serving act done for the sake of disunity. 


In Mitzrayim, the Bnei Yisroel were blessed with a clarity of sight. The Egyptians were animals in the form of people. They sought only pleasure. They were like donkeys.  Therefore, they guarded themselves. Midian was different.  Moshe Rabeinu was married to a Midianite. It must be Hashem's will to be one with them. This trial was much more difficult to bear, and even a nasi fell prey to it.


The posuk says, "Vayitzmad Yisroel l'Ba’al Pe’or", Yisroel "bonded" with Baal Pe’or. Bila’am brought about a distortion in the role of creation through the vehicle of giluy arayos. The improper relationship the Midianite women led to a blurring of their perspective in the area of relationships. One can break away. There is no need for commitment. The next stage is that the natural world can break away from its Creator. And finally, the result being dead refuse removed from its source of sustenance, putrid, rotting as excrement as the service of Ba’al Pe’or..


Hair is dead matter that is rejected by the body. And yet, it has an attraction to it. It is the attraction to pleasure without connection. Zimri was entrapped by Kazbi’s  hair.


When faced with Zimri's iniquity, Moshe Rabeinu understood that the whole world was at risk. If the Bnei Yisroel lose sight of the true purpose of the world, the world will become detached from its source. It will become a dead husk. He cried and said kriyas shma. Kriyas shma is the declaration of our belief in the oneness of Hashem. It was this belief that was at stake. 


Pinchos rose to the occasion. Pinchos was a descendant of Putiel. He descended from Yosef Hatzaddik and from Yisro.[9] He embodied within himself the righteousness of Yosef, who lived his life as one who had never sinned. Combined with this was the heritage of Yisro, a priest of Midian, who served every known avoda zara and found the falsehood contained within. Only Pinchos, whose origins are from Midian, is qualified to break the hold of Midian on the Bnei Yisroel, and reconnect them. 


Zimri, by uniting with Kazbi, unified himself with death. He separated himself totally from his source of life. Thus, there was no need to consult a bais din. One only needs to consult a bais din when putting a live person to death. One does not require a bais din when executing someone who is already dead.[10]


The Bnei Yisroel were dying by plague. It was not a punishment. It was a reality. Klal Yisroel had associated itself with death. The natural consequence is a plague.


Pinchos put his life in danger in order to publicly bring kiddush shem shamayim in the world. He threw off all personal concerns for his own safety. His act and very survival were accompanied by many miracles.[11]  


He thus demonstrated the oneness he has with his Creator.  He was a living kriyas shma.


The public display of the oneness of our world with Hashem was required in order to bring Klal Yisroel back to life. The plague stopped.


The ones directly involved in the sin were subsequently put to death and hung up before the sun. At sunset they were taken down and buried. According to the medrash, the sun actually had a part in identifying the offenders. It shined on the guilty ones through the clouds.[12]


The sun assumed a prominent role in the punishment of the sinners. It was a display that the sun is one with its creator. It has no independence. 


Pinchos was rewarded by being made a Kohen. A Kohen is the epitome of one who bonds the physical world to the true world through his service in the Bais Hamikdash. 


Pinchos is Eliyahu Hanavi.[13] Eliyohu Hanavi lives forever. He is free of the constraints of this world. He is the one who brings everlasting life to his people. He is the herald of techiyas hamaysim. He will be the harbinger of the future geulah where it will be fulfilled the verse "Vehaya bayom hahu yih’ye Hashem echad u’shmo echad". And it will come to pass on that day that Hashem will be one and his name will be one.[14] 

[1] Parshas Matos, perek 31, posuk 16

[2] Meseches Sanhedrin, daf 106a

[3] Meseches Sanhedrin, daf 64a

[4] Meseches Sanhedrin, daf 82a

[5] Parshas Balak, perek 25, posuk 6

[6] Meseches Sanhedrin, daf 82a

[7] Medrash Tanchuma, Parshas Balak, perek 17

[8] Meseches Sanhedrin, daf 105a

[9] Meseches Sotah, daf 43a

[10] Ohr HaChaim, Parshas Pinchos, perek 25, posuk 14

[11] Medrash Tanchuma, Pershas Balak, perek 21

[12] Rashi, Parshas Balak, perek 25, posuk 4

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