471. "Take from among you an offering" (Shemot 35:5). Come and see, in the first instance it is written: "of every man whose heart prompts him to give" (Shemot 25:2). That is, from absolutely anyone, EVEN THE MIXED MULTITUDE. Since the mixed multitude had made THE GOLDEN CALF, and some of them who had died, the Holy One, blessed be He, wanted to be reconciled with Yisrael. He said to them: 'Join yourselves together, all of you, to one side,' as it is written: "And Moses gathered all the congregation of the children of Yisrael" (Shemot 35:1) by themselves. He said to them: 'My children, I want to rest upon you; My dwelling shall be amongst you. And so it is written: "Take from among you an offering" from you and not from anyone else. I do not want the others to have any connection with Me nor with you.' And this is why all OF THE MIXED MULTITUDE were destroyed. And so also here. All those about whom it is written "And those that were dead..." (Bemidbar 25:9) were of a bad stock, NAMELY THEY WERE THE OFFSPRING OF THE MIXED MULTITUDE WHO HAD INTERMARRIED WITH THE TRIBE OF SHIMON, AS ABOVE. Those dead were certainly ALREADY dead, FOR THEY WERE OF THE MIXED MULTITUDE WHO ARE CALLED 'DEAD' EVEN DURING THEIR LIFETIME, AS ABOVE, and not from Yisrael. And this is why he counted them, as it is written: "Take the sum of the congregation of the children of Yisrael" (Bemidbar 26:2), WHICH MEANS LITTERALLY, raise up their heads.
472. Rabbi Elazar said, Father, WHAT YOU HAVE SAID would have been most beautiful if there had not been an internal contradiction. He said to him, My son, please tell me. And he replied, It is written: "And Yisrael joined himself to Baal Pe'or" (Bemidbar 25:3), and we have learnt that Yisrael were joined to Baal Pe'or as a bracelet is joined to a bejeweled person. THAT IS: YISRAEL ALSO SINNED, AND NOT ONLY THE MIXED MULTITUDE. He said to him: So it is indeed, Elazar, that "Yisrael joined himself to Baal Pe'or," but I did not say that Yisrael were innocent of that sin. All I said was that they were cleared of death, that death did not rest on them.
473. He said to him: But it is also written: "Take all the chiefs of the people and hang them" (Ibid. 4), WHICH MEANS THEY WERE OF YISRAEL. He said to him, It does indeed specifically say "the chiefs of the people," NAMELY THE MIXED MULTITUDE WHO ARE CALLED 'PEOPLE' WITHOUT FURTHER EPITHET. IT DOES not SAY 'the chiefs of the children of Yisrael'. And from the use of the term "the people" we can learn THAT WHEREVER SCRIPTURE USES "THE PEOPLE" THE REFERENCE IS TO THE MIXED MULTITUDE. In this verse it is written "the people," and elsewhere it is written: "And when the people saw that Moses delayed" (Shemot 32:1) and: "the people gathered themselves together" (Ibid.), and: "And there fell of the people..." (Ibid. 28). IN ALL THESE CASES, "THE PEOPLE" MEANS THE MIXED MULTITUDE. But come and see: All that is written is "And Yisrael joined himself to Baal Pe'or" (Bemidbar 25:3). It does not say that they worshipped, as understood from the end of the verse, as is written: "and the people ate, and bowed down to their Elohim" (Ibid. 2). Scripture does not say that Yisrael ate and bowed down, but IT IS WRITTEN, "the people." And since it is written "And Yisrael joined...," what is the meaning of "and the people ate"? SCRIPTURE SHOULD HAVE SAID: 'AND YISRAEL ATE'. However, it was that bad stock, NAMELY THE MIXED MULTITUDE WHO MARRIED WOMEN OF YISRAEL, which was the sin of Yisrael.
474. ANOTHER COMMENT. Take the verse: "And Yisrael joined himself to Baal Pe'or." Come and see: 'And Yisrael joined himself within Baal Pe'or' is not written, but rather "to Baal Pe'or." This is so because they gave ONLY embellishment and strength to Baal Pe'or, without awareness, because the worship of Pe'or consisted of uncovering oneself and depositing in front of him hot feces, which worship used to give him pleasure and Baal Pe'or grew strong from it. Yisrael, when they saw this, thought that they were thereby scorning him and disgracing him, for about idolatry it is written: "You shall say to it: Get you hence (Heb. tze)" (Yeshayah 30:22), AND THE WORD FOR FECES (HEB. TZO'AH) COMES FROM THE SAME ROOT. So they, YISRAEL, uncovered themselves in order to deride the idolatry, without awareness. And it was for these that Pinchas made atonement and stopped the plague FROM THEM, as it is written: "And he made atonement over the children of Yisrael" (Bemidbar 25:13).
475. Ra'aya Meheimna (the Faithful Shepherd). The Faithful Shepherd said, IT IS WRITTEN: "turned away My wrath" (Ibid. 11). What is the meaning of "turned away My wrath?" AND HE ANSWERS THAT this refers to three officials over Gehenom. One is over bloodshed, another over sexual transgressions, and the third over idolatry, and they are CALLED 'Destruction', 'Anger' and 'Wrath'. And the latter, Wrath, was flying through the world, AND ABOUT HIM IT SAID: "TURNED AWAY MY WRATH." He said, "turned away My wrath from the children of Yisrael," but He did not say 'from the people', which WOULD REFER TO the mixed multitude. For it is said, "And there fell of the people that day about three thousand men" (Shemot 32:28), WHERE THE MEANING OF "THE PEOPLE" IS THE MIXED MULTITUDE. BUT HERE IT DOES NOT SAY 'TURNED AWAY MY WRATH FROM THE PEOPLE,' BUT RATHER "FROM THE CHILDREN OF YISRAEL." THIS IS TO TEACH THAT HE DID NOT TURN THE WRATH AWAY FROM THE MIXED MULTITUDE. For this is how we explained it, and we asked the Holy Luminary, THAT IS, RABBI SHIMON.
476. What is written? "Take from among you an offering to Hashem" (Shemot 35:5), "FROM AMONG YOU" and not from the mixed multitude, for YISRAEL was not called 'a community' and 'a union' until the mixed multitude had been removed from them. When THE MIXED MULTITUDE was intermingled amongst them, as it were, it was as though they were not one people. That is why it says, "Take from among you an offering" and not from any other partnership, NAMELY NOT FROM THE MIXED MULTITUDE, for I do not want to involve others between Me and you.
477. And not only that, but when the mixed multitude were intermingled with Yisrael, what is written? "Her adversaries have become the chief" (Eichah 1:5). And after THE MIXED MULTITUDE have been removed from Yisrael, what is written? "Take the sum (lit. 'lidt up the head') of all the congregation of the children of Yisrael" (Bemidbar 26:2). And not only that, but the Holy One, blessed be He, said: 'I want to dwell with them,' this being what is meant by: "and let them make Me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among you" (Shemot 25:8).
478. And not only that, but when the children of Yisrael are in exile it is said about them: What prevents? The yeast in the dough, for the sages of the Mishnah have taught: When the mixed multitude are the heads over Yisrael, as it were, it is as though the rule of the Holy One, blessed be He, was removed and they had come under the rule of the jurisdiction of the stars and constellations. This is why they cry out, saying, "Hashem our Elohim, other masters beside You have had dominion over us" (Yeshayah 26:13).