Forethoughts and Afterthoughts.
Commentary on the weekly Torah reading.
In memory of Father, Yosef Ben Zelig.
March 25th 1911 - May 2nd 2008
In memory of Mother, Nechama Bas Tzvi Hirsh.
June 9th 1925 - April 16th 2003
In memory of Uncle, Moshe Binyamin Ben Tzvi Hirsh.
December 12 1929 - February 2nd 2010
In Loving Memory of Moreinu Horav Shmuel Yaakov Weinberg, Rosh HaYeshiva Ner Yisroel
Chukas (Numbers 19-22)
Pinchas (Numbers 25-30)
25:10 And G-D said to Moshe (Moses) saying
25:11 "Pinchas son of Elazar son of Aharon (Aaron) the priest brought back my fury (that was focused) against the Children of Israel and I did not destroy the Children of Israel in my zealousness."
25:12 Therefore proclaim, "Behold I give him My covenant of peace."
25:13 "And he and his children shall have an everlasting covenant of priesthood because he was zealous for his G-D and (thereby) atoned for the Children of Israel."
Pinchas assumed the role of a zealot and responded to an outrage that was done by a tribal leader. By killing the perpetrator, Pinchas stopped a deadly plague that was sent by Heaven in response to the outrage (numbers 25:6-8).
Zealots are usually condemned. In fact, the Talmud teaches that Pinchas would not have been told to do this, had he asked leadership for detailed guidance (Sanhedrin 82a).
Pinchas' reward was a "covenant of peace," which meant eternal life (Zohar). Some say that Pinchas became Eliyahu (Elijah) the Prophet, whom we are all waiting for to herald the Messianic Era.
Mankind suffers so much from zealots. What was so unique about the zealousness of Pinchas?
My understanding of the Nesivas Shalom's explanation is as follows.
Run-of-the-mill zealots respond to feelings of outrage. They have some cause or ideal that is very significant to them. Their feelings are so intense that they are willing to lose their lives over it. They respond to personal pain; It is all so deeply personal.
The Torah testifies that Pinchas was different. He was totally into the pain of the Jewish people who were shocked at what was taking place. He acted with full intention to restore peace, not to inject violence.
The Nesivas Shalom commentary notes that the Torah makes it a point of tracing his lineage back to Aharon (Aaron), the great peace-maker, to reinforce this point.
Not everyone is put together to act with such selflessness that he can fully intend to bring peace while being a zealot. Even one iota of personal satisfaction makes an act of zeal worthy of condemnation. This is why our leaders are instructed to not advise anybody to act in zeal.
Pinchas was a rare person and may we all merit to soon greet him.
Click here to mail your thoughts to the author at black@JewishAmerica.com.