Eliya-Who?

RABBI WAGENSBERG
PARSHAS PINCHAS
“Eliya-Who?”

The Yalkut Shimoni (Parshas Pinchas, Remez 771) cites Reish Lakish who says that Pinchas was the same person as Eliyahu Hanavi (Elijah the Prophet). In Targum Yonasan (Parshas Pinchas, 25:12) it says that Hashem promised that Pinchas would live forever and bring us the news about the Redemption in the End of Days.

We must wonder what merit Pinchas had to deserve all of these blessings. What was the measure for measure? What did Pinchas do to deserve these specific blessings?

The Kabbalist, Rebbi Nasan Shapiro, tells us that Eliyahu Hatishbi will answer all questions and doubts in the future. Pinchas/Eliyahu deserves this position because he reminded Moshe about a matter of Jewish law which Moshe had forgotten.

When Zimri, the leader of Sheivet Shimon, took Kozbi, the Midianite Princess, to Moshe, Zimri asked Moshe if she was permitted to him or not. Zimri said that if she is prohibited to him, who allowed Moshe to marry Tzippora, his wife, who was a Midianite woman as well. Zimri went on to have relations with Kozbi in a public fashion, but Moshe had forgotten the law regarding what to do in such a scenario.

Pinchas said to Moshe that when he came down from Mount Sinai, he (Moshe) had taught him (Pinchas) that under these circumstances a zealot may punish the perpetrator. Moshe responded, “Let the reader of the letter be the agent to carry out its deed” (Sanhedrin, chap. 9, “Hanisrafin”, pg. 82a). Therefore, Pinchas eliminated Zimri and Kozbi.

Since Pinchas clarified the halacha to Moshe and the Jews, he will merit to clarify unresolved questions in the future as Eliyahu. There is a hint in the Talmud that Pinchas/Eliyahu will indeed clarify unanswered questions.

Whenever a Gemara cannot answer a question, it concludes its give and take with the word, “Teiku.” The Tosafos Yom Tov (Rabbi Yom Tov Lipman Heller, 1579 Germany-1654 Cracow, Poland) in Meseches Ediyos (chap. 8, “Hei-id Rebbi Yehoshua”, Mishna 7) says that the word “Teiku” (spelled: taf, yud, kuf, and vov) serves as the acronym for, “Tishbi Yetaretz Kushyos Va’abayos” (The Toshabite [Eliyahu] will answer questions and problems).

Moreover, the Zohar (Parshas Tzav, pg. 27b) says that just as Moshe had an assistant to help him speak when he went to Pharaoh, so will Moshe need an assistant to help him speak to the Jewish people in the future. Aharon was Moshe’s assistant when they went to Pharaoh, and Aharon’s grandson, Pinchas/Eliyahu, will be Moshe’s assistant at the time of esurrection.

However, Moshe’s need for assistance was different in each situation. When he went to Pharaoh, Moshe had a physical speech impediment and required Aharon to speak for him. But in the Messianic Era, Moshe will be healed from his physical speech impediment, just as all people will be healed from their illnesses at that time.

However, Moshe will still need an assistant to help him teach the Jewish people because although Moshe will speak eloquently, he will be teaching on such a high spiritual level that the Jewish people will not know what he is talking about. Therefore, he will need Eliyahu/Pinchas to explain to the Jewish people what it was that he trying to convey.

Once again, since it was Pinchas who clarified what the halacha was in the days of Moshe in the Midbar (that a zealot may take action), he (Pinchas/Eliyahu) will also be given the privilege of explaining the halacha to the Jewish people when Moshe will teach us Torah in the Messianic Era.

Another point worth mentioning is that, when Eliyahu comes, the letters which make up the Hebrew word, “Hu” (hey, vov, and aleph) will be returned to their places. The explanation of this statement is dependent upon the verse that says, “For the hand is on the ‘Kes Kah’ (Throne of God), Hashem maintains a war
against Amalek from generation to generation” (Parshas Beshalach, 17:16).

Rashi (ibid) cites a Tanchuma at the end of Parshas Ki Seitzei which explains this verse to mean that Hashem swore that neither His Name nor His Throne would be complete until Amalek would be completely eradicated. This is why the word for Throne in this verse is “Kes” (spelled: chuf samech) instead of “Kisei” (spelled: chuf, samech, aleph), and this is why the Name of God in this verse is “Kah” (spelled: Yud Hey) instead of “Havaya” (spelled: Yud – Hey – Vov – Hey).

In other words, the letter aleph is missing from the word “Kesei,” and the letters Vov Hey are missing from the Name “Havaya.” When you put the three letters, which are missing, together, you get the word “Hu” (spelled: hey, vov, and aleph).

When Eliyahu comes, those three letters will be returned to their rightful places. The letter aleph will be returned to “Kes” making it “Kisei,” and the letters Vov Hey will be returned to “Kah” making it “Havaya.”
The Rebbi of Rozhin (Rabbi Yisrael Freedman, 1796-1850, Ukraine) says that this is why the name of the person who will bring the tidings about the Final Redemption is “Eliyahu.” This is because the name “Eliyahu” is spelled: aleph, lamed, yud, hey, and vov. When you take those letters apart and put them back together again, they spell the words, “Li Hu,” which means, To Me (God) the Hu will return.

Meaning, when Eliyahu comes, he will bring us good news about the redemption at which time Amalek will be destroyed thereby bringing the letters Hey, Vov, and Aleph back to God’s Name and to God’s Throne, making them complete and whole.

Let us now explore which Torah teachings Eliyahu will have to explain to us, and let us also see why it will be Moshe Rabbenu teaching us that Torah in the future.

In Yeshaya (51:4) it says, “Torah will come forth from Me.” This sounds strange because Yeshaya lived after Mount Sinai and yet he says that there will still be Torah coming from God. What Torah could Yeshaya be referring to?

The Midrash in Vayikra Rabba (Parshas Shmini, 13:3) makes things much worse when it quotes Rav Avin bar Kahana who said, “Hakadosh Baruch Hu said, ‘A new Torah will come forth from Me.’” It is passages like these which get Christian Missionaries excited because they sound like they are saying that there will be a New Testament.

The Jewish response to such claims is based on our tradition, because there is a Gemara in Meseches Rosh Hashana (chap. 1, “Arba’a Roshei Shanim”, pg. 21b; Rav or Shmuel) which says that God created fifty levels of Torah understanding in the world, and all of them were given to Moshe except for one (the fiftieth level), as it says, “But You have made him [Moshe] only slightly wanting in [understanding] Divinity” (Tehillim, 8:6).

However, the Arizal (Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, 1534 Jerusalem-1572 Tzfas; Pri Eitz Chaim, chap. 2) says that when Moshiach comes, he will reveal the fiftieth gate of Torah understanding to the Jewish people. It is that fiftieth gate of Torah understanding which the verse in Yeshaya and the Midrash were referring to.
In other words, there is a “New Torah” coming to us. However, that “New Torah” is not a “New Testament,” rather, it is referring to a new level of Torah understanding from our already existing Torah Hakedosha that we have not yet been exposed to. That new level of Torah comes from the fiftieth level of understanding.
That fiftieth gate of Torah understanding is the same thing as the famous Ohr Ganuz (hidden spiritual light) that Hashem stashed away for the righteous in the future (Chagiga, chap. 2, “Ein Dorshin”, pg. 12a, Rebbi Elazar, based on Parshas Bereishis, 1:4).

Hashem will teach us that dimension of Torah from the fiftieth gate through His agent, Moshiach (Yalkut Shimoni, Yeshaya, chap. 26, Remez 429).

The Shvilei Pinchas says that there is even a hint in the word “Moshiach” that tells us that Moshiach will teach us Torah from the fiftieth level. The word “Moshiach is spelled: mem, shin, yud, and ches. When you rearrange those letters slightly, they serve as the acronym for, “Moshiach Yigaleh Sha’ar Chamishim” (Moshiach will reveal the fiftieth gate).

At this point, we must drop the bomb. Everybody wants to know who Moshiach is going to be. There have been many different beliefs about Moshiach’s identity over the ages and there have been debates about this in the Talmud (see for example Meseches Sanhedrin, chap. 11, “Cheilek”, pg. 98b). However, we are going to share the position of the Zohar.

In Parshas Vayechi (49:10), Ya’akov Avinu blesses his fourth son Yehuda with the words, “The scepter will not depart from Yehuda nor a scholar from among his descendants, until Shilo comes.” This means that Yehuda will be the progenitor of kings until Shilo comes. Who is Shilo?

The Zohar (Parshas Bereishis, pg. 25b) says that Shilo is none other than Moshe Rabbenu himself. Support of this notion is that “Shilo” and “Moshe” share the same numerical value, 345 each. This means that Ya’akov prophesied that sovereignty will remain in Sheivet Yehuda until Moshe comes along, because when Moshe returns at the End of Days, he (Moshe) will be Moshiach.

There is another Zohar which concurs with the one we just mentioned. There is a verse in Koheles (1:9) which says, “Mah Shehaya Hu Sheyihiyeh” (whatever has been is what will be). The Zohar (Parshas Mishpatim, pg. 120a) says that when you take the first three words of this verse (Mah Shehaya Hu) and look at the acronym; it spells, “Moshe.”

Based on this verse in Koheles, let us ask, “What was?” Meaning, who was the Goel Rishon (first redeemer) from the first exile in Egypt? It was Moshe. This is what Koheles was referring to when it said, “Mah Shehaya.” Therefore, the verse in Koheles continues, “Shiyihiyeh,” meaning, so it will be in the future. In other words, Moshe will also be the Goel Acharon (last redeemer) from the last exile.

One question could be raised attacking the Zohar’s position. How could Moshe possibly be Moshiach if it says in Yeshaya (11:1) that Moshiach must come from Dovid Hamelech who came from Sheivet Yehuda? Moshe came from Sheivet Levi which is the wrong tribe for Messianism.

The Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh (Rabbi Chaim ibn Attar, 1696 Morocco-1743 Jerusalem; Parshas Vayechi, 49:11) raises this very question and provides the following answer. He says that we’ve got it all wrong. It’s not pshat that Moshe must come from Dovid and Sheivet Yehuda, but rather, Dovid and Sheivet Yehuda come from Moshe. What this means is as follows.

We must look at the situation from the world of souls. Moshe Rabbenu’s neshama (soul) was an all-encompassing soul, meaning that all Jewish souls were off-shoots of Moshe’s grand neshama. The Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh compares Moshe’s soul to the trunk of a tree, out of which grows twelve branches, out of whom grows six hundred thousand twigs.

This means to say that Moshe’s soul was like the trunk of such a tree. The twelve branches that grow from this tree represent the twelve tribes of Israel. This means that the souls of all twelve tribes stem from Moshe. The six hundred thousand twigs represent the six hundred thousand primary Jewish souls, which all stem, ultimately, from the trunk, Moshe.

This is how Moshe held every possible position in the Midbar. Moshe was a temporary Kohen Gadol when he inaugurated Aharon to be the permanent Kohein Gadol. Once Aharon became Kohen Gadol, Moshe went back to being a Levi. Moshe was also a Melech (king) and a Navi (prophet). Moshe was wealthy and strong. Moshe was a worrier and a general.

In other words, Moshe can be anybody you want him (or need him) to be. All Moshe has to do is tap into that aspect of himself which is needed at that time. If you need Moshe to be a Kohen, Moshe simply clicks onto that channel of Kehuna which stems from him and becomes a Kohen.

So, it is not pshat that Moshe must come from Dovid. On the contrary, Dovid comes from Moshe, and Sheivet Yehuda stems from Moshe. Therefore, when we need Moshe to be Moshiach, he will simply click onto that channel of sovereignty which stems from him and he will become Melech Hamoshiach.

Therefore, since Moshe will be Moshiach, he will teach us from the fiftieth level of Torah understanding in the future. However, that Torah is on such a high spiritual frequency that most of the Jewish people will not know what Moshe is talking about. This is where Eliyahu Hanavi comes in. Eliyahu will explain Moshe’s words to the people. Eliyahu will bring those teaching down to a level that the rest of us will be able to relate to.

Eliyahu merited to be Moshe’s mouthpiece in the future because when he (Eliyahu) was Pinchas, he reminded Moshe of a halacha that Moshe had forgotten. Since Pinchas clarified the halacha to Moshe in the past, he will be able to clarify the halacha in the future as Eliyahu.

The Zohar (Parshas Tzav, pg. 27b) says that this leads us to a deeper understanding of the word “Teiku” which we mentioned above. The word “Teiku” is actually supposed to be the word “Tikkun” with the letter nun at the end of it. However, the word “Teiku” is missing the letter nun at the end of it. This is because when there is a doubt or an unanswered question, there is no “tikkun” (fixing, mending, repairing).

The reason why specifically the letter nun is missing from “Teiku” is because those doubts and questions come from the fiftieth level of Torah understanding that we have no access to right now in our galus (exile). Therefore, it is specifically the letter nun which is absent from the word “Teiku” because the letter nun is numericaaly 50. This teaches us that the reason why we do not understand the answer to such questions is because those questions stem from Sha’ar HaNun” (the fiftieth gate of Torah understanding), to which we have no connection with in our galus.

But in the future, Hashem will reveal to us a “Torah Chadashah” (a new Torah) which are the teachings from the Sha’ar HaNun. At that time, all of our unanswered questions (which stem from Sha’ar HaNun) will be resolved.

When Moshiach will teach us the Torah from Sha’ar HaNun, the “Teiku” will become “Tikkun” (repaired) because all will be “Metukan” (fixed).

The Arizal (Hagaddah Shel Pesach, expounding upon Parshas Bo, 12:39, “They could no longer delay”) says that the Jews in Mitzrayim fell to the 49th level of impurity. Therefore, Moshe was able to rescue them. However, if they would have fallen to the 50th level of impurity, Moshe would not have been able to rescue them.

The Shela Hakadosh (Rabbi Yeshaya Horowitz, 1555 Prague-1630 Tzfas; Meseches Pesachim, Matzah Ashira, 1:33) explains this Arizal by citing a verse in Koheles (7:14) which says that God created a world of opposites so that if there is an energy of good on one side, there would have to be an equal amount of energy of bad on the dark side so that we can make fair choices between good and evil throughout our lives.

Therefore, since back in Mitzrayim Moshe had only reached the 49th level of Torah understanding, he only had the power to rescue Jews who had fallen to the 49th level of impurity. However, if they would have fallen to minus 50, Moshe would not have been able to rescue them because they would have been beyond his reach.

But the Midrash in Vayikra Rabba (Parshas Emor, 32:5) says that the Jews in Mitzrayim built a fence around themselves to protect themselves from immorality. This is why we do not find assimilation and intermarriage between Jews and Egyptians in Mitzrayim.

Rebbi Chiya bar Aba (ibid) says that this fence (which they built around themselves) alone was enough of a merit which made them deserving of redemption.

It turns out that immorality is the 50th level of impurity. We know this because the Jews were on minus 49, but they stayed away from immorality. So, it must be that immorality sinks a person into the 50th level of impurity.

When Pinchas reminded Moshe of the halacha that a zealot may put a stop to a public act of immorality, Pinchas saved the Jewish people from immorality and thereby save the Jewish people from sinking into the fiftieth level of impurity. Therefore, measure for measure, Pinchas will be the one to explain Toras Moshe to the Jewish people which stems from the fiftieth level of understanding.
Perhaps we can add that since Moshe will have access even to the fiftieth level of Torah understanding in the future, he (Moshe) will have the power to rescue even the Jews who have fallen to the fiftieth level of impurity.

Practically speaking, let us try to keep as far away from immorality as we possibly can because this alone will give us the merit to be redeemed from our exile.

So, may we all be blessed with the willingness and strength to be like Pinchas for ourselves by keeping ourselves far away from inappropriate activities, thereby saving ourselves from the 50th level of impurity, in order that one day soon we will merit to hear the mouth of Eliyahu Hanavi explain Moshe HaMoshiach’s teachings to us which stem from the 50th Level of Understanding, clarifying every Teiku, thus bringing the world to its Tikkun.