The Gemara in Eiruvin 63a,b learns that one is not allowed to paskin a halachah in front of one's Rebbi.

Multiple examples and details are brought. In particular, Elazar haKohen taught the soldiers coming back from the war with Midian the halachos of making utensils kosher when Moshe was standing by (and forgot the law, as is expounded by a midrash). Even though Elazar said respectfully,

and this is the halacha that Hashem said to Moshe

still, he was punished.

My question is, don't we observe a similar effect with Pinchas suggesting to Moshe (before slaying Zimri) that this was the halacha that Moshe himself taught, and Moshe replied that it's fitting therefore that Pinchas himself do the killing.

But what is the difference between Elazar's statement and the one from Pinchas - we see no mention that he was ever punished for paskening in front of Moshe?


2 Answers 2


The Gemara (Sanhedrin 82a) states that when Pinchas saw Zimri consorting with Kazbi the Midianite, he said to Moshe: Did you not teach me that if someone does such a thing, zealots may kill him ? Moshe replied with a parable: Let he who reads the letter, fulfill its instructions.

So it would seem to me that Pinchas did not Pasken before Moshe Rabbeinu, but rather according to our sages, he asked a Shaila of Moshe Rabbeinu based on the halakha that he had heard from Moshe Rabbeinu. If this was forbidden every Talmid Hakham in every Yeshiva would be in major trouble.

  • As a side note, another interesting question may be how to resolve the RaN's Kasha on this Gemarra. Mar 20, 2013 at 13:53
  • If what you are saying is true, indeed that he asked a question, then how does it coincide with the Gemara in Sanhedrin(?) that when zealot asks if he should perform the act of zealousness, he is told not to (and Moshe here tells him to go ahead and do it)?
    – gt6989b
    Mar 20, 2013 at 14:03
  • What is the Ran's קשיא on this Gemara?
    – gt6989b
    Mar 20, 2013 at 14:03
  • 1
    You asked the Ran's Kasha in the first comment. What gets fun is finding answers to his Kasha. To me the most interesting was the Aruch LaNer who suggests that Pinchas knew that קנאין פוגעין בו but was unsure if it applied to him as a Kohen. Moshe, who knew via Ruach HaKodesh that Pinchas would not be impaired by his act of zealotry, was able to assure him that his Kehunah would not be negatively affected. Mar 20, 2013 at 15:28
  • 1
    see judaism.stackexchange.com/a/8837/603
    – Menachem
    Mar 20, 2013 at 20:05

The Gemara Sanhedrin 82a(Shmuel's opinion)says that Pinchas had an emergency situation whereby the name of G-d was being disgraced and no one was doing anything about it; if there is a clear conflict we say ein chochmah v'ein tevunah neged Hashem, human dignity is overridden, so he ruled in his teacher's presence.

  • Same gemarah as above Sanhedrin 82a,Shmuel's opinion.
    – sam
    Mar 20, 2013 at 15:06

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