1) THE ADMISSION OF MOSHE RABEINU
QUESTION: The Gemara discusses Aharon's answer to Moshe Rabeinu's question about why Aharon did not eat the Korban of Rosh Chodesh when he was explicitly told that he should eat the Korbanos of the Milu'im even though he was an Onen. Aharon explained that perhaps Hash-m had told Moshe Rabeinu that Aharon was permitted to eat Kodshei Sha'ah (Korbanos brought specially for the Milu'im). Aharon did not think that this leniency applied to Kodshei Doros (Korbanos brought in all generations), since the Halachah is that even a Kohen Gadol who is an Onen is not allowed to eat such Korbanos.
The Gemara quotes the verse which relates Moshe Rabeinu's response: "va'Yishma Moshe va'Yitav b'Einav" -- "and Moshe heard and it was good in his eyes" (Vayikra 10:20). The Gemara explains that Moshe admitted to his error and was not embarrassed to say, "That is what I heard, and I forgot," when he could have said, "That is not what I heard."
What exactly does the Gemara seek to teach about the character of Moshe Rabeinu? It is obvious that Moshe Rabeinu would not lie and say that he did not hear something from Hash-m, especially since such a statement would affect the Halachah.
(a) The MIZRACHI and the MAHARAL in GUR ARYEH explain that if Moshe Rabeinu sought to avoid personal shame, he could have said merely that he did not hear what the correct Halachah was in the case of Kodshei Sha'ah, despite the fact that Hash-m had told him that it was forbidden. He could then tell Aharon later that in fact Aharon was right. However, immediately upon realizing that he had forgotten the Halachah, Moshe Rabeinu did not cover up for himself by saying that he "did not hear" (implying that he would find out later what the Halachah was), but rather he admitted that he had heard the correct Halachah and had forgotten it.
(b) The CHASAM SOFER reads the Gemara differently. He understands that Moshe Rabeinu heard from Hash-m only that Kodshei Sha'ah is permitted, but not that Kodshei Doros is forbidden. Moshe Rabeinu deduced on his own, incorrectly, that it must be that the same Halachah applies to Kodshei Doros. Aharon, however, showed Moshe Rabeinu that this is not the correct conclusion, since Kodshei Sha'ah may be subject more stringent laws. The Chasam Sofer reads the Gemara as saying that Moshe Rabeinu was not embarrassed to the point that he would say that he "heard and forgot," but rather he admitted that he "had not heard the Halachah" which he had quoted directly from Hash-m, but rather he came to that conclusion on his own. This was far more embarrassing to Moshe Rabeinu than to admit that he had heard the Halachah and forgot it. Since Moshe Rabeinu was the one who transmitted Torah to the Jewish people and he had made a wrong deduction, people might think that they no longer can rely on his transmission of the Halachah. On the other hand, if Moshe Rabeinu merely had forgotten the Halachah, his reliability would not have been at stake, since it is the normal human tendency to forget. People still would believe firmly that any Halachic deduction that Moshe Rabeinu made was correct. Moshe Rabeinu overcame the temptation to say that he forgot, and instead he admitted he had made a mistake. (See also the BE'ER BA'SADEH on Rashi.) (Y. MONTROSE)
2) WHY PINCHAS DID NOT RECEIVE THE KEHUNAH WITH THE OTHER KOHANIM
QUESTION: Rebbi Chanina and Rav Ashi disagree about when Pinchas became a Kohen. Rebbi Chanina says that Pinchas became a Kohen after he killed Zimri. Rav Ashi says that he became a Kohen only after he made peace between the Shevatim in the times of Yehoshua. RASHI in Chumash (Bamidbar 25:13) writes that when the Kohanim were anointed, only Aharon, his sons, and the sons which would be born from them in the future were anointed, but not the grandsons of Aharon who were already living, which included Pinchas. This Halachah, however, apparently applied only to Pinchas, since there is no mention of any other grandsons of Aharon who were not Kohanim.
Why did Hash-m not have Pinchas anointed at that time, together with all of the other Kohanim?
(a) The MAHARAL (in GUR ARYEH) explains that Pinchas was a Katan, minor, at the time of the anointment of the Kohanim, and a Katan does not receive anointment for Kehunah.
(b) In his second answer, the Maharal writes that only the Kohanim who were needed for the Avodah at the time of the anointment were actually anointed. Since there were enough Kohanim to do the Avodah without Pinchas, it was preferable that, thereafter, only those born with Kedushas Kehunah should be Kohanim. Pinchas therefore would not have been a Kohen at all (if not for the special award he earned for his actions).
(c) The MIZRACHI explains that the reason why Hash-m did not have Pinchas anointed was so that he should earn the Kehunah with his actions against Zimri and Kozbi.
(d) The LIKUTEI HE'OROS on the OR HA'CHAIM suggests that had Pinchas been anointed, he would not have been able to kill Zimri, because that act would have rendered him Tamei Mes. Hash-m therefore prevented him from being anointed when the other Kohanim were anointed in order that he would be able to save the Jewish people from destruction. (See KLI CHEMDAH, beginning of Parshas Pinchas, for more about Pinchas becoming Tamei to Zimri.) (Y. MONTROSE)