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Take A Look At This. Or Not.

By Rabbi Yehoshua Alt at

obormottel Sunday, 08 July 2018
Take A Look At This. Or Not.

The Arizal among others[1] tells us Pinchas was a גלגל; reincarnation of Yitzchak. The following are allusions to this.

A) The numerical value of פינחס is 208, Identical to that of יצחק.

B) Both Yitzchak and Pinchas were Moser Nefesh:[2] Yizchak at the עקידה and Pinchas in the episode of Kozbi and Zimri.[3]

C) We are told Pinchas is Eliyahu.[4] Eliyahu is referred to as [5]אליהו מלאך הברית and Yitzchak is the first one to have a Bris on the eighth day.[6]

D) The Gemara[7] says Eliyahu was answered with Tefilas Mincha. Who established Mincha? Yitzchak![8]

E) In reference to Eliyahu it is written[9] והשיב לב אבות על בנים...; he will turn back the hearts of fathers with their sons…. Who is the first of the Avos that is an אב and בן? Yitzchak.[10]

When Yitzchak became old his eyesight dimmed.[11] Who restored his eyesight? Pinchas and Eliyahu. In fact, if we combine the sum of פינחס (208) andאליהו (52), we get a total of 260, the same amount as עין, עין (two eyes).[12]

The Arizal teaches that each month corresponds to different limbs of the head.[13] Tamuz corresponds to the right eye and Av to the left- just as it says עיני עיני ירדה מים; my eyes run with water.[14] These months are when the Meraglim sinned with their eyes- וראיתם את הארץ; see the land.[15] Consequently, the hardest שמירת עינים (guarding the eyes) tests are in the summer.[16]

In light of what we mentioned, it comes as no surprise that Parshas Pinchas falls out in the summer, as the summer months present extra challenges in the area of guarding our eyes.[17] It is in these months of Tamuz and Av that we need extra fear of Hashem so that we can win this battle. A hint to this is shown in[18] את ה' אלה-יך תירא; fear Hashem, as את is an acronym for תמוז and אב.

When one looks at the improper, he doesn’t get to see the light of Kedusha.[19] This is shown to us in עינים להם ולא יראו; they have eyes but cannot see- one who uses his eyes for his own pleasure (להם), doesn’t get to see the light of [20]Hashem- לא יראו.[21] Dovid Hamelech laments over this in פלגי מים ירדו עיני על לא שמרו תורתך; my eyes shed streams of water because they did not keep your Torah.[22]

R’ Leib Chasman pointed out that if a spec of dirt enters one’s eye, his eyes shut tightly causing the person not to see. The same can be said of sinning, as if one sins he becomes dark in that it blocks Kedusha and he can’t see Hashem properly.

Although we may subconsciously think that it is more pleasurable to look than not to, the opposite is true as it is more painful to look. This is because in addition to the distance it causes between the person and Hashem, he also doesn’t receive the object of his desire.

We tend to believe שמירת עינים is about those with pure eyes keeping them that way. This is false as it is written ולא תתורו...ואחרי עיניכם;[23] don’t explore…after your eyes, followed by אשר אתם זנים- those of you who have been straying with your eyes.[24]

The Gemara[25] says that if an owner declares that the leg of a certain animal is hereby consecrated as a קרבן עולה, then the entire animal becomes an עולה, not just the leg. The same can be said of us, as when we sanctify our eyes by guarding them, we elevate our entire body.[26]

How can we guard ourselves in this area? The following are some strategies.

1) To try and avoid the situation in the first place, as inועצם עיניו מראות ברע; shuts his eyes from seeing evil.[27] We can do this by avoiding certain streets and places such as malls and the like. If one needs to be there, it should be for as short as possible. Additionally, we can ask Hashem to fulfill העבר עיני מראות שוא[28]; avert my eyes from seeing futility.

2) To protect ourselves in this area we must keep ourselves busy so that we don’t have time to look at anything improper.[29] In this way we can grasp לתאוה יבקש נפרד-[30] תאוה runs after the person who is isolated, not busy.

3) If it chances up and one looks at that which is improper since it is unavoidable, that can serve as a reminder, like an alarm, and alert him to turn away. When one does that, he can laud and praise himself.

4) Just as when we want to accomplish something, we do it by setting small goals, the same applies here. For one to say that he won’t look at anything improper may be impractical. Instead, every person should set a goal that is reasonable for him. For example, it may be to be extra careful not to look at anything improper on the path from home to shul. Once that is mastered, the period of time and/or the number of times can be extended. We should also make sure to take one day at a time and one moment at a time.

5) One should make a list of what he can do so that if a test in this area arises, he won’t fall in sin. This can be to recite Tehillim, call a Rebbe, speak to a family member and the like.

6) Instead of thinking how hard these tests are, we should think what an opportunity for growth, as a boy who struggled in this area once wrote, “I merit to have this opportunity for spiritual growth.”[31]

7) Let us look at it this way. One who is blind doesn’t have a desire in this area. So now that Hashem gave us the gift of sight, how can we use it to stumble in שמירת עינים?!

8) For every time we fall in this area, we should do that which hurts. Some suggestions offered: refrain from eating for an extended period of time, doing 100 pushups, giving money to Tzedaka, closing our eyes for 15 seconds and so forth. One can test various strategies for a number of days and see what works for him. Conversely, for every time we overcome a test in this area we can reward ourselves. Some options: to eat special food we really enjoy, listening to music we like and so on.

With our efforts in this pursuit, we can turn the עיני עיני ירדה מים to כי עין בעין יראו בשוב ה' ציון; with their own eyes they will see that Hashem returns to Tzion,[32] bringing forth צום הרביעי וצום החמישי...יהיה לבית יהודה לששון ולשמחה ולמעדים טובים; the fast of the fourth month (17th of Tamuz) and the fifth (9th of Av)…will be to the house of Yehuda for joy, gladness and for happy festivals.[33]


24,000 Gone

Tosafos[34] tells us that Blaam could have cursed us in the moment Hashem gets angry with the word כלם.[35] Although the curses of Bilaam were unsuccessful, they were successful in that there was a plague in which 24,000 died. This is alluded to in כלם as if we multiply the letters with each other, we get to this number. That is, 20 (כ) multiplied by 30 (ל) is 600. Multiplying that by 40 (מ), we get 24,000![36]

[1] רמ"ע מפאנו in Gilgulai Neshamos 155. Zohar, Ki Sisa, 190a. Targum Yehonasan Shemos 6:18. The Zohar (Acharei Mos) tells us that through the zealous act of Pinchas the Neshamos of Nadav and Avihu came into him. Just as Pinchas’s act was הלכה ואין מורין כן; the judges don’t instruct him to kill the sinner, so did Nadav and Avihu put an אש זרה before Hashem. The Baba Sali points out on the words of the Midrash- בדין הוא שיטול שכרו (Bamidbar Rabba 21:1) that it contains the letters ofנדב and אביהוא.

[2] They also each possessed the attribute of Din. Yizchak embodied this trait and Pinchas acted with it.

[3] See Sanhedrin 82a. The Nesivos Shalom (Balak, s.v. עמי, ד) explains ויקח רמח בידו; he took a spear in his hand (Bamidbar 25:7), in the following way: רמח is composed of the same letters as רמח representing the 248 (Gematria of רמח) limbs of a person, meaning to say he took his whole self and was Moser Nefesh completely.

[4] Zohar Pinchas 215a. Also see Pirkei Drebi Eliezer 29, Baba Metzia 114b Rashi Lav, Targum Yonasan Ben Uziel Vaera 6:18. In fact, the word שלום [בריתי]- the simple meaning is in reference to Pinchas receiving a covenant of peace- is a contraction of שלא למות (Rabbanu Bachaye, Bamidbar 25:12) and Eliyahu never died. Additionally, the Haftorah of Pinchas is about Eliyahu.

[5] We say this at a Bris. See the Redak to Malachi 3:1, s.v. האדון. The Meor Einayim (Vayeitzei, s.v. וישא יעקב) tells us that one who relates good news has a spark of Eliyahu Hanavi because Eliyahu relates all good news in the world (In Birchas Hamazon we say הרחמן...אליהו הנביא זכור לטוב ויבשר לנו בשורות טובות ישועות ונחמות; May He send us Eliyahu- he is remembered for good- to proclaim to us good tidings, salvations and consolations. In the Zemer of אליהו הנביא which we sing on Motzai Shabbos it says איש פקיד על כל בשורות טובות; the man appointed over all good tidings.). For this reason, when the opportunity arises to say over good news, everyone wants to run and tell it over since his Neshama feels Eliyahu. One can use such a time to ascend spiritual heights. Also, a spark of Eliyahu enters the one whom the news is being said to and is more easily able to connect to Hashem.

[6] At a Bris as well as in Birchas Hamazon we say אליהו הנביא זכור לטוב. This is because when Moshe was born circumcised it states כי טוב (Shemos 2:2. See also Breishis 38:7, 10)- See the Pe’er Ahron in his Haggada, s.v. אליהו.

[7] Brachos 6b

[8] Brachos 26b

[9] Malachi 3:24

[10] Avraham was only an אב in the chain of the Avos not a בן, as his father was Terach.

[11] Breishis 27:1

[12] See the Ben Ish Chai who says that Yosef and Noach was in Pinchas at the time of this zealous act. Yosef (spelled יסף, without the ו) and נח are composed of the same letters as פינחס. Additionally, Tzitzis is to serve as protection for שמירת עינים as it says ולא תתורו...ואחרי עיניכם; don’t explore…after your eyes (Bamidbar 15:39). The 5 knots and 8 strings on each corner of the Tzitzis give us a total of 13. Multiply that by 4, as there are four corners, and we get 52, the Gematria of אליהו. The Tzitzis are wrapped around 39 times on each corner. Multiply that by 4 (four corners), and our result is 156- the same as יוסף, the one who represents שמירת עינים. Moreover, 52 (39 winds, 5 knots and 8 strings) multiplied by 4 is 208, the numerical value of פינחס (as well as יצחק).

[13] Brought in the Bnei Yissoschar Tamuz Av 1:4

[14] Eicha 1:16. The destructions of the Batei Mikdash were in the months of Tamuz and Av.

[15] Bamidbar 13:18

[16] Nowadays it is worse than ever before. It therefore comes as no surprise that the last words of the Torah, which corresponds to the end of all generations, is לעיני כל ישראל; the eyes of the Jewish people- Devarim 34:12 (see בעיות הזמן, pg 137, Chiyuv of Tznius, R’ Reuven Grozovsky).

[17] The Malach of Esav hit Yaakov’s hip socket- ויגע בכף ירכו (Breishis 32:26). This refers to the Bris Mila as in שים נא ידך תחת ירכי (Breishis 24:2, Rashi). The Yetzer Hara remains by the Bris and gets people to stumble specifically in that area.

[18] Devarim 6:13. The question to ask ourselves is, “Did it catch your eye or are you looking for it?”

[19] The main Kedusha of a person is in שמירת עינים as it says איה הקדשה הוא בעינים; Where is Kedusha? In the eyes (Breishis 38:21).

[20] In this way we can grasp היזק ראיה שמיה היזק (Baba Basra 2b)- one who damages with his eyes by looking at the improper causes damage to his Kedusha, as שמיה is a contraction of שם י-ה; Hashem.

[21] Tehillim 115:5. The phrase ונח מצא חן בעיני ה'; Noach found grace in the eyes of Hashem (Breishis 6:8) can be interpreted as Noach had godly eyes meaning he didn’t look at the improper. Another interpretation is that he found grace in Hashem’s eyes because of his eyes- his שמירת עינים.

[22] Tehillim 119:136

[23] Bamidbar 15:39. See Tanya chapter 27. Another interpretation is that תתורו means to spy out as in ויתרו את ארץ כנען (Bamidbar 13:2), meaning even if we have a bad thought, we shouldn’t meditate on it. This can be compared to a fly on a spider web- the more it struggles, the more it gets entangled in the web.

[24] Just as an addict must refrain even from taking sips of alcohol, likewise we shouldn’t look around even a little.

[25] Kidushin 7a

[26] The same holds true of any part of our body we sanctify, as we then raise our entire body in Kedusha.

[27] Yeshaya 33:15. Then we can fulfill ברית כרתי לעיני ומה אתבונן על בתולה; I forged a covenant for my eyes and I would not gaze at a girl (Iyov 31:1). The Tiferes Shlomo (Balak, s.v. וכסה) understands כסה את עין הארץ (Bamidbar 22:5) as a term for covering the eyes as in כסות עינים; an eye-covering (Breishis 20:16), since Balak saw we guarded our sight in contrast to Bilaam by whom it says נפל וגלוי עינים; fallen and with uncovered eyes (Bamidbar 24:4,16), as his downfall was because he didn’t guard his eyes.

[28] Tehillim 119:37. Of course we should always Daven to be successful in this area. We can have this in mind when we say in Shacharis ואל תביאנו לא לידי חטא...יצר הרע; don’t bring us into the power of error, transgression and sin, challenge, scorn. Let the Evil Inclination not dominate us.

[29] One who has a past shouldn’t be distraught. Just as when one wrestles with a pig, he gets dirty, similarly for one who has a past, it is natural for him to have מחשבות זרות. Advice offered to such a person is that when these thoughts arise, he should acknowledge them (as in saying hi to these thoughts), and then get busy doing things.

[30] Mishlei 18:1

[31] Also, instead of one viewing himself as bad becoming good, he should see it as sick getting better.

[32] Yeshaya 52:8. The Pasuk states וירא ה' כי סר לראות; Hashem saw that he turned aside to see (Shemos 3:4).סר has a numerical value of 260, identical to עין, עין- because Moshe saw these months won’t be rectified until the final redemption when פינחם and אליהו (which together has a Gematria of 260) will come- see Targum Yehonasnan on Shemos 4:13 and Pirkei Drebi Eliezer, chapter 40 (Bnei Yissoschar Tamuz Av 1:4).

[33] Zecharya 8:19

[34] Avoda Zara 4b, s.v. רגע

[35] After the rebellion of Korach, Hashem said to Moshe and Aharon הבדלו...ואכלה אתם כרגע; separate yourselves from this assembly, and I will destroy them in a moment (Bamidbar 16:21).

[36] Bilaam said תמת נפשי מות ישרים...כמהו (Bamidbar 23:10). The Jewish people are called ישרים, as is shown in ישראל- a contraction of ישר א-ל. Another name we are called by is ישרון (Devarim 32:15)- also from the term ישר. תמת נפשי מות ישרים...כמהו- the death of the ישרים (Jews) was כמהו. That is to say, multiply the letters of כמהו with each other- 20 (כ) by 40 (מ) by 5 (ה) and then by 6 (ו). Our total is 24,000!