This week's parsha begins with the reward that Pinchas received for killing Zimri. Hashem gave Pinchas a bris of shalom and of kehuna that he and his descendents would be kohanim.
The Gimorah in Zivachim 101b brings a machlokes as to whether Pinchas was a kohen from before this episode or not. According to one opinion although Aharon and his sons had already become kohanim, until this episode Pinchas was not a kohen even though he was a grandson to Aharon Hakohen because kehunah was only given to Aharon and his sons and all future generations from then on; excluding those that were already born. According to the opinion that Pinchas was not a kohen prior to this episode we understand that this is when he did become a kohen. However according to the opinion that he was already a kohen why does the Torah say that he was made a kohen in reward for his act of killing Zimri?
The Moshav Zikainim L'balai HaTosafos offers an answer to this question. They say that although Pinchas was a kohen prior to this act he actually lost his kehunah through this act of killing Zimri. As the Gimorah in Birachos 32b says that a kohen who kills is passul (unfit) to duchen. Therefore when Pinchas killed Zimri he became passul for kehunah, creating the necessity for a new kehunah.
The Moshav Zikainim adds that Reb Yichiel of Paris fundamentally disagreed with this answer. Reb Yichiel said that Pinchas did not lose his kehunah when he killed Zimri since the halacha is that a kanoi (a zealot) can kill someone who does an avaira with a goi in public, the one performing the avaira is considered a gavra kitaila (a dead man). A kohen who kills a gavra kitaila does not lose his kehunah. Since the man is already considered dead it is not considered as if the kohen killed him. (The Moshav Zikainim does not quote how Reb Yichiel answers the original question of why was it necessary to make Pinchas a kohen since he already was a kohen.)
It seems that the Balai Tosafos and Reb Yichiel argue about the nature of the right of the kanoi to kill the one performing the avaira. The Balai Tosafos are of the opinion that when the kanoi kills the one performing the avaira it is considered retzichah (murder) and therefore if he was a kohen he would lose his kehunah. Reb Yichiel is of the opinion that it is not considered retzichah when a kanoi kills the one performing the avaira since he is considered dead already.
Perhaps we can say that the underlying machlokes is whether the one performing the avaira is chaiv misa (has a judgment punishable with death) except that instead of bais din killing him the Torah appointed all kanoim to carry out the judgment, or there is no chiyuv misa on him, rather the Torah allowed kanoim to murder under such circumstances. The Balai Tosafos that say that it is considered murder when a kanoi kills, support the notion that there is no judgment of death against the one performing the avaira, therefore it is considered murder. Reb Yichiel who said that it is not considered murder would support the idea that there is a chiyuv misa against the one performing the avaira, therefore he is considered a gavra kitaila (dead man).
Besides for the difference of whether a kohen will become unfit for the avoda if he kills one doing such an avaira, there is another difference between the Balai Tosafos and Reb Yichiel. The halacha is that if one does something for which he will be deserving misa (the death penalty) and and the same time he also became obligated in a monetary debt, he is exempt from the monetary obligation. This is known as kim lay bidiraba minay. There is a question as to whether or not we can apply this rule to the one performing an avaira with a goi in public, as a kanoi can kill him. Reb Akiva Aiger in Kisubos 29a is of the opinion that we do apply kim lay bidiraba minay to the one performing an avaira with a goi in public, and he will be exempt from any monetary obligations that occur during the avaira.
Apparently Reb Akiva Aiger agrees with Reb Yichiel that there is a chiyuv misa on such a man. Whereas according to the Balai Tosafos that said that there is no judgment of death against one who does an avaira with a goi in public, rather the Torah granted permission to kanoim to kill them, we would not apply the rule of kim lay bidiraba minai in this case and he would be obligated to pay for any monetary obligations that occur during the performance of the avaira.
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Posted By KH to KollelH blog at 7/15/2011 12:19:00 AM