Pinchas: A Sicha
:וְהָיְתָה לּוֹ וּלְזַרְעוֹ אַחֲרָיו בְּרִית כְּהֻנַּת עוֹלָם תַּחַת אֲשֶׁר קִנֵּא לֵאלֹקיו וַיְכַפֵּר עַל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל
“It shall be for him and for his descendants after him [as] an eternal covenant of kehunah, because he was zealous for his G-d and atoned for the children of Israel.”(Pinchas 25:13)
The situation with Pinchas happened after the Jewish people began sinning with the Moabite women and doing serving idols (avoda zara) of Ba’al Pe’or with them. Rashi tells us that the Moabite women showed the Jewish men idols they kept in their bosom. As a result, G-d told Moshe Rabbeinu to have the leaders hang the people involved.
On this verse, our Rabbis tell us (1), “This sin stands until today and will only be atoned for when the dead will live [again](t’chiyas hameisim).” This, however, is difficult to understand: How is this sin different from any of the other ten tests with which the Jewish people tested G-d? We don’t find that any of the other tests (2) remain to be atoned for?
Pe’or was called so (3) because its devotees would reveal (hoyu po’arin) their behinds and evacuate their bowels before it. In other words, they made something most important (4) (to serve their “god”)out of waste (excrement).
Everything in material reality extends from a spiritual reality including this sin:
Just as with the waste that comes as a result of food— one eats the food, it becomes digested internally (k’ravayim), the nutrients become flesh, blood and life to the body whereas the waste is expelled— the same is true in the spiritual reality. Expression from on High is received, filtered, and sent down by angels (kruvim, cherubs). They take the choicest portion of the pleasure therein (which comes from the Garden Eden) and the waste therein is excreted and becomes the pleasure in the world beneath them. This happens from world to world until this material world and becomes what we perceive as physical pleasure (5). A person, by virtue of his humanity, should take pleasure from loftier, spiritual pleasures. However when we don’t, and we seek pleasure in physicality, we take on the mindset which led to the avoda zara of Ba’al Pe’or. This is truly the sin of Pe’or (in a very subtle state) which hasn’t yet been atoned for.
This then is the meaning of the verse, “Until this day we haven’t been purified [from the sin of Ba’al Pe’or].” We see tangibly, that even after a proper davening to start the day when we go take care of our bodily needs, we begin to focus on the pleasure involved rather than the importance. We begin to eat for pleasure rather than eat to maintain a healthy body.
Likkutei Sichos vol. 4 p. 1327
1. Sifri, there, “Is being atoned for,” or, “atones for.” Sanhedrin p. 82b, “Should be atoned for.” See Tosfos entitled Because of Sotah, Sotah p. 14a, “Every single year the house of Pe’or rises and prosecutes [the Jewish people] mentioning the sin that was done.”
2. Except for the eigel hazohov, the golden calf which had eternal ramifications.
3. Rashi in Bamidbar 25:3 (Shvi’i in parshas Bolok). See Sanhedrin 64a.
4. See Likkutei Torah, Vo’es’chonon p.11c entitled Venaso B’gai.
5. Likkutei Torah, Sh’lach p. 41d, 46d.
6. See at length in Kuntres Umayon at the beginning. LeMa’an Da’as 5690 (found in Sefer HaMa’amorin Kuntreisim part 1). See HaYosheves BeGanim, 5708.
7. Yehoshua 22:17. Since the Torah is eternal, when the verse says, “until this day,” it applies equally today.