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Zimri Challenged Moshe on His Marriage. But What was the Truth?

When A Question is Only an Excuse

1 hr 26 min

Class Summary:

This text-based class on Likkutei Sichos vol. 18 Balak, explains an enigmatic story in the Talmud. Zimri comes to Moshe demanding permission to marry a Midianite princess, Kozbi. “If you say it is prohibited, who allowed you to marry the daughter of Yisro?!” Zimri challenges Moshe, who also married a woman from Midian.

But this does not seem to make sense. Moshe married his wife before the Torah was given! What was Zimri thinking? And why did no one answer his challenge?

As it turns out, his question may have been deeper than we would imagine on the surface.

The class finally teaches us how to distinguish between questions that require answers vs. questions that we ought not to answer, not because we don’t have answers, but because they are not real questions, only excuses.

Please leave your comment below!

  • MF

    Moshe FHam -6 years ago

    A few points:

    1) in the first ה"א you can say that Miriam and Aharon didn't answer because they already had died and no one other then Moshe was privy to the divorce.

    2) a nice conclusion to all this is that Pinchas was rewarded by becoming a cohen. Pinchas himself is the product from a marriage of a kohen and a midyanit. Even if Pinchas was to be considered a kohen like his brothers from day 1, he would be a halal. Yet with this answer, Pinchas was from a pure lineage (especially according to the explanation of the rambam reg kidushin in Egypt) and him being elevated to be a kohen is almost ה' announcing and proclaiming this halacha and at the same time answering the question of zimri for Moshe to the rest of בנ"י.

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  • SR

    Shmuel Rosenfeld -6 years ago

    שאליה..נכון שעמרם קידש אשתו במצרים כדת וכדין כמו אחרי מתן תורה..אבל הוא לא היה בגדר מצווה ועושה..ולכן זה לא יכול להתיר אחרי מתן תורה לשאר באותו נישואין

    ישר כך

    Shmuel Rosenfeld

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  • K

    Kalman -6 years ago

    One small detail

    A wonderful lecture, thank you.

    But one small detail, which is not mentioned, in my opinion changes the whole picture and justifies the act of Zimri.  Rashi in his commentary points to this detail :

    והנה איש מבני ישראל בא - נתקבצו שבטו של שמעון אצל זמרי שהיה נשיא שלהם ואמרו לו אנו נדונין במיתה ואתה יושב וכו 'כדאיתא באלו הן הנשרפין 

    The reason that prompted Zimri to come to Moshe is not at all a desire to question the relationship between Moshe and Zipora, nor is it the desire to sin with Cosby. If he wanted to sin, he would not ask Moshe for permission to sin. After all, he, the head of the tribe of Shimon, came to stop the epidemic. He had two options:

    The first is to make a psak din, and therefore he came to Moshe, and to allow him Cosby not as a geyoret, just as aramit, only le zorekh a shaa, thereby stop the epidemic.

    But Moshe is silent and leaves him no choice, so he chooses the second option, knowing that he violates the law of the Torah, knowing that he will perish, he goes to self-sacrifice and stops the epidemic by his own death. Because being the leader of his tribe, he took all responsibility for the death of people to himself, and thereby stopped the continuation of the epidemic. He was the last to perish from his tribe.

    He set a goal, and he achieved it.

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  • Anonymous -6 years ago

    Marriage & Geirus

    How can you say that they needed to remarry their wives after Mattan Torah? If they had a Din of תנוקות שנולדו, then how could there be Yichus to their Shevet?! 

    However, Moshe divorced his wife when he sent her back to Midian (אחר שלוחיה). According to Rashi, Yisro came after Mattan Torah. So Tzippora was not married to Tzipporah when she came back to him! (I have many proofs to this from the language at the beginning of Parshas Yisro). So she and only she had a Din of a Giyores! So he could not marry her.

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  • Anonymous -6 years ago


    This is the class on Yeshiva.net that I was watching, and I still had these questions at the end. From what you say it seems that Moshe didn’t megayer Tzipoiro before he married her in Midyan. That means his children also were not Jewish? So why did they need a brismilah? (which tzipoiro performed on the way by the hotel) Yisroi with Tzipoiro and Gershom an Eliezer came to the Machane of Am Yisroel seemingly after Matan Toiro, so Tzipoiro didn’t go thru the giur then. (in seder hadoirois it brings that Devoiro was a gilgul of Tzipoiro – who didn’t sing shira, etc.) If Amram did the remarriage to Yocheved his aunt, it was not according to after matan Toiro. (an Aunt is one of those people one shouldn’t marry, no?)

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Likkutei Sichos Balak

Rabbi YY Jacobson

  • June 22, 2015
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  • 5 Tamuz 5775
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