Later in history, when the incident of the daughter of Jephtah of Gilead occurred, they [Elijah and Jephtah] were both punished. For as the Sages say, Jephtah was a judge and he did not want to come to Elijah1 to annul his vow. Elijah did not want to come to him, for he said, "The one who is suffering must come to the doctor" (Breishit Raba) - and so between the two of them the daughter of Jephtah went [to live in seclusion in the mountains].

Jephtah was a judge and he did not want to come to Elijah to annul his vow.

Jephtah, who was directly involved in the incident, was punished and as a result, everywhere he went he lost limbs, as it says, "They buried him in the cities of Gilead" (Judges 12:7) - in the plural. Elijah was punished by the departure of the Shechinah. As the Sages say on the verse, "And Pinchas the son Elazar was the supervisor over them in former times, for G‑d was with him," (Chron. I 9:20) which is talking about the Pinchas. (Breishit Raba 60:3) Thus he was the "supervisor" over them - but no longer.

After the Nefesh of Nadab and Abihu that had been in him b’ibur was removed, it later reincarnated into Samuel the prophet, as we will explain. This is the secret of what the Sages say, " The V/vav of "briti shalom [My covenant of peace]" (Num. 25:12) is [written in the Torah scroll] cut.2 They also say in the Zohar, that the Y/yud of Pinchas is [written in Num. 25:11] small. (Zohar III Acharei Mot)

Both indicate that something is lacking in Pinchas. In this case, the lack manifested itself in the future. This did not at all detract from the power of free choice of Pinchas. It just comes to point out a coming test.

These letters Y/yud and V/vuv through which the lack is expressed are the mutual letters shared by Joseph/Yosef and Jethro/Yitro - the batteries of Pinchas. As mentioned, they are the male/active letters of the Tetragrammaton. The defect in them implies a test that involves lack of action. This is exactly what happened - Pinchas was passive in not going to annul the vow of Jephtah.

The mistakes of colossal, towering tzadikim such as Pinchas are not to be taken simply.

The mistakes of colossal, towering tzadikim such as Pinchas are not to be taken simply. (Shabbat 56a) They are humans in a state of complete ego-nullification and do every single thought/word/deed solely for the glory of G‑d. A simple way of understanding the issue here is that the lack of yesod/brit energy of the people caused an unwarranted, out of character lack in Pinchas, preventing him from getting up and doing what he was supposed to.3

Thus, in the incident with Zimri he merited the ibur of Nadab and Abihu, as mentioned in the Zohar, (Zohar III Pinchas 217a) but he lost the ibur as a result of the sin of the daughter of Jephtah. This is why the vav is cut, to represent the sefira of yesod, which is called briti shalom. It was actually cut when he lost the Shechinah and the ibur of Nadab and Abihu.

The withholding of proper action caused a cut in yesod expressing its energy to reveal Divinity. This itself is an intrinsic lack of shalom. For it is actually a name of G‑d and represents His essential nature. When G‑dliness is manifested, there is harmony and shalom.

Thus, from that time onward all that remained was the spark from the root of Joseph. For the ibur of Nadab and Abihu went to Samuel, and the spark of Jethro was removed from him to reincarnate into Hiel the Bethelite, who was born at that time and [later] rebuilt Jericho.

This was because the ibur of Nadab and Abihu, Elijah from the tribe of Gad and Elijah from Binyamin, were not principle souls of Pinchas but on loan in the secret of ibur. Therefore, the sin which resulted because of the daughter of Jephtah did not blemish them, and even the spark from the drop of Joseph was not that involved in the sin, just the spark from Jethro.

This was because the spark from Jethro, which came from Cain, when it went to Jethro had the name komer [non-Jewish priest] who fattens cows for idol-worship. Therefore, it was the primary cause of the sin. And therefore it was removed and it reincarnated into Hiel the Bethelite [in Hebrew, 'Bait Ha’eli'].

Thus, the letters of Hiel are the same letters of Elijah, when the H/hey [of Elijah] is switched with the Ch/chet [of (C)hiel] from the letters of the aleph-chet-ayin-hei pronunciation grouping.

All letters whose sounds originate from the same place in the throat are grouped together and are considered interchangeable. (Eitz Chaim)

Even Ha’eli is the same letters as "Elijah" [again, without the vav]. This is the secret of "Bait Ha’eli" - that is "Bait Elijah", from the "house of the dwelling of Elijah," since Elijah "dwelled" in the body of Pinchas, who was from the spark of the drop of Jethro. Hence, the main body was that of Pinchas and not Elijah - it was just that it was called the "house of the dwelling of Elijah."

Hiel was an important man, to whose house King Ahab and Elijah used to come.

The Sages say that Hiel was an important man, to whose house King Ahab and Elijah used to come. However, because of the sin of Jephtah’s daughter, this caused him to build Jericho, which is similar in nature. The sin of the daughter of Jephtah had to do with a vow, and this sin was a violation of the vow made by Joshua not to re-build Jericho.4 Since the city of Jericho was connected to the root of Cain, as it says, "and the children of the Kenite, the father-in-law of Moses, went up from the city of date palms," (Judges 1:16) which is Jericho, Hiel, who is from the root of Cain, wanted to re-build it.

Date palm is called tamar. It also identifies with temurah [switch], as in ‘haichalai hatmurot’ [the palaces of exchange]. They came into being when Adam ate from the tree. They cause a great mix-up in everything so that much toil and hardship is required to reveal Divinity. (Likutei Halachot) The work stage is called chol [mundane] the state of the week, as opposed to the Shabbat state, which is like the tree of life. (Zohar II Yitro) The same relationship between Shabbat and chol is found between Israel and other lands. (Based on Likutei Moharan 19) The whole process of leaving Egypt was in order to fix the tree the sin of knowledge. (Shaar HaKorban Pesach) G‑d took the people out with the goal of leading them to Israel - the final stage of bringing the world back to the utopian Shabbat state it fell from when they ate from the tree.

Based on this, we can understand why the first city they conquered upon entering Israel was the city of temarim (Judges 1:16) i.e., a birur of the hachailei hatemurot which allows entry into Israel/the tree of life/Shabbat mode.

Therefore they conquered the city in a Shabbat oriented manner. Each day they walked around and blew the shofar blast. On Shabbat they blew seven times "and the walls came tumbling down". (Joshua 6:20)

'Jericho' comes from reioch [aroma]. Mashiach is known for his special sense of smell.5 Mashiach is the one who will raise up the collective efforts of all of mankind and elevate the whole world to the Shabbat state. This will open the sweet aromas of the Garden of Eden to permeate all of existence.6

All of this relates to the concept of a vow. The Torah forbids many things. A human being has no way of making a prohibition binding upon himself except through a vow. It is as creating his own personal Torah. (Likutei Halachot Nedarim)

Making a vow extends Shabbat energy to places it could not go before.

Guarding the Torah elevates the individual to the Shabbat state. Making a vow extends Shabbat energy to places it could not go before. It so as if ‘conquers’ the negative forces on their own territory, similar to the people coming and conquering the nations that occupied Israel inside their very borders. Breaking a vow does the opposite - bringing holy things down to the mundane state.

This is reason why Joshua commanded that Jericho never be rebuilt.7 The Torah commands to destroy Amalek. Moshe told specifically Joshua to go to war against them, as the Zohar teaches. (Zohar II Beshalach) Amalek is from the bad part of the tree of knowledge. (Megila) Its tikun is its destruction, just as certain sweet fragrances come from the burning up of a substance. As mentioned, Jericho comes from reioch. It is the exotic perfume manufactured from the eradication of evil. This is a good thing. Because of the hold of the tamar/haichalai hatmurot energy on Jericho, the best thing is for it to remain destroyed. The place that this energy always attacks is malchut, therefore Joshua, who is rooted in this quality, is the one to combat it. And he decrees that it never be rebuilt.

After this, his name changed to Elijah the Tishbi. Nadab and Abihu were rectified in him, and Pinchas himself from the side of Jethro was involved in the sin of the daughter of Jephtah. Elijah from the tribe of Binyamin was only in him in ibur to join together the other souls. Thus what remained as the main part was Elijah from the root of Gad, and therefore he could no longer be called Pinchas, but Elijah the Tishbi - hinting that his soul was from the tribe of Gad.

When prophecy returned to him it was after he was called Elijah the Tishbi and after Samuel died, so that Nadab and Abihu could return to him in ibur during the incident of Mt. Carmel. At that time, the people fell on their faces and said, "Havaya is Elokim ." (Kings I 18:20-29) When they said, "Havaya is Elokim ", they [Nadab and Abihu] were forgiven for their sin of ‘cutting off the plantings’8 when they [as if] caused defect in the Divine Presence [by their improper incense offering]. Understand this.

The infinite Creator created the sefira system as a medium to relate to His finite world.

The infinite Creator created the sefira system as a medium to relate to His finite world. Still, there is a test if the world will use this system. Faith ‘plugs everything in’ and connects the world to its Maker. The sefira system is as a tree.9 One who denies faith conceptually severs the tree from its roots – detaches the sefirot from the flow of the Infinite Light in them. (Tikunei Zohar, Intro.)

Havayah is the intrinsic name through which the Infinite Light flows to the universe; it means ‘Existence Giver’. Elokim equals hateva [nature] and refers to the clothing of the Divine energy in the cause and effect system of the world. The statement "Havayah is Elokim" comes to unite them and show that all is one - after creation as before creation. So it rectifies the defect of heresy.

Nadab and Abihu were most certainly great believers. However, they actually reached for a level that was then too high to bring into the world. (Zohar III Shemini) It backfired and caused damage. Too much electricity blows the circuits and causes separation in the wiring. So the abundant light they drew caused division in the sefira system.10

Furthermore, they [Nadab and Abihu] had sinned in the beginning when they glanced at the Shechinah at Mt. Sinai, as it says, "They saw the G‑d of Israel." (Ex. 24:10) However, they underwent rectification when they fell on their faces in order to avoid seeing the fire that descended from Heaven.

"Blinded by the light" is also an aspect of too much light. If the eyes try to see it - they end up blinded. In a world of limitations and impurity, if the Shechina at times comes to honor us and manifest, it is not honorable to look and gaze. The experience of the manifestation is to remain an unseen experience - until the world is cleansed and "eye to eye we will see when G‑d restores Zion." (Isaiah 52:8, Hagiga)

[Translation and commentary by Perets Auerbach.]