For many years, this author has spoken or written about a posuk in Parsha Ki Tisa which alludes to an event which is recorded in Torah 40 years later, in a subsequent Parsha.
The posuk being referred to (Sh’mos, Perek 30, posuk 30) says that while Moshe Rabbeinu was on Har Sinai being given Torah, Hashem said;
“You shall anoint Aaron and his sons and sanctify them to minister (to serve) me.”
This seemingly obscure posuk which pops up in a couple of slightly different forms in both Parsha Tetzaveh and in our Parsha raises a challenging question which cuts to the chase of what we continue to face today. The question is; what about that Pinchas Ben Elazar? Why was he not anointed as a Kohen with his brothers?
The answer seems to be that Pinchas, who was born in Mitzrayim, before Matan Torah, did not get “grandfathered” into the Kehunah. Although his father, Elazar was a son of Aaron and thus, he (Elazar) and all future descendents of Aaron’s son’s inherited the Kehunah, Pinchas received the merit of the Kehunah only by virtue of an act of zealousness, L’Shem Shemayim, rak L’Shem Shemayim.
This author has written, and Rav Malinowitz has spoken at various times, about peer group pressure as one of the cheshbonot which is often weighed regarding performance of a Mitzvah, and whether or not such a cheshbon is necessarily L’Shem Shemayim. That is, as this author understands, basing one’s actions or performance of a given Mitzvah on the perception of the esteem with which others will hold him.
It was the Tzaddik, Pinchas Ben Elazar who saw what was going on around him, was pained by what the Am was doing and what one of the Princes’ was into. Pinchas envisioned the possible dire consequences of the avodah zora taking place among B’nai Yisrael and figured that he better ask his Rebbe a crucial question, and fast.
It was the final year in BaMidbar and the B’nai Yisrael were deep in crisis. It was a time when the Jewish men once again backslid, as they had in doubting Moshe’s return — thus the eigel zahav, resorting instead to the avodah zora.
Thus they were enticed and seduced by the thousands to serve the avodah zora known as the Ba’al Peor. Moshe Rabbeinu and Aaron HaKohen were weeping with sorrow and fear in the Assembly of the B’nai Yisrael. What was to happen? Another 40 years in the Dessert? Destruction of the people and a new beginning from the seed of Moshe? Thousands were dying (24,000 to be exact) in the plague resulting from the avodah zora and the co-habitations. It was in this deadly crisis that Pinchas stepped up to the challenge in slaying both Zimri, one of the Princes of Israel, and the Moabite Princess Cosbi as they co- habitated. This act brought an instantaneous Divine cessation of the plague and the dying.
The action of Pinchas was not popular with the B’nai Yisrael. The Rashi on Parsha Pinchas, so entitled by Hashem in recognition of the merit of Pinchas, records that Elders of B’nai Yisrael accused Pinchas of wanton murder and wanted him tried and some sought his execution for the act. And so Hashem conveyed the Kehunah and eternal life onto Pinchas Ben Elazar, thus validating that Pinchas indeed acted L’Shem Shemayim. The Ohr HaChaim relates that:
“Hashem wanted the entire nation to know that Pinchas saved them from calamity and had earned for himself the reward specified…” (The Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash, Parsha Pinchas page 876.)
This brings us to discussion of today’s events; our contemporary lives set against the large shadows of the horrendous events of the very recent past — the expulsions of fellow Jews from Gush Katif, terrible police brutality by the police of Medinat Yisrael against religous Jews in Amona, at the Federman farm, in Beit HaShalom and elsewhere; as well as present shadows of possible disastrous events to come, as suggested by the current prime minister’s apparent committment to a terror state alongside us on Jewish land and a freeze on Jewish building in parts of the Land of Israel. The question looms large and real as to whether the construction freeze is limited to 10 months in duration ostensibly for a nebulous, nonsensical definition of “peace” or whether it is, in fact, permanent.
Olmert’s Convergence — however the Netanyahu government chooses to dress it up, package and label it; is an evil, hard-hearted plan and designed to harm, persecute, break and destroy hundreds of thousands more of our Jewish brethren, possibly in the coming months and years. In reality, the despicable scheme of Israel’s leftist-agendized Barakist political governance is an end-line of blind persecution of religious Jews and the de-judiazation of Medinat Yisrael reducing to a coastal ghetto of “new Jews.” In their blind disdain any Jewish connection, the “new Jews” have sold national security and the people they govern “down-the-river.”
Not in this author’s lifetime, and probably not since the Holocaust, have we seen such heinous events planned and perpetrated against Jews as what has happened — the expulsion of thousands of Jews from Jewish land in Gush Katif and the expulsion, police violence and demolition in Amona, at the Federman farm and in Beit HaShalom as well as what is being planned by either the leftists or a so-called “rightist” Israeli government against Am Yehudi. We have seen hints in recent years of what could be in the offing against hundreds of thousands of Jews by way of government use of smart-cards, both on autos and as entry onto public buses, in order to track the travellings and whereabouts of significant segments of the population.
The overriding concern is ideological, however. “Why are we different than the residents of Tel Aviv?” they ask. “Why are we forced to show our ID cards to soldiers whenever we come or leave home? Why must are cars be identified? Can such a situation be imagined in Tel Aviv?”
Today, as in the time of Pinchas Ben Elazar and the Jews in BaMidbar, we need men of principle and integrity who act L’Shem Shemayim regardless of the popularity of their actions or of how others will hold of them.
Because we didn’t stand Hashem’s test in foiling the Gezeira Rah of Jew expelling Jew either in it’s legislative stages or in it’s implementation, Hashem has given us gradually sterner tests. Are we up to them?
Do we have the principle, zealousness and the “fire in the belly” of Pinchas HaKohen? Are we up to the tasks ahead? Just as Pinchas saw what was at stake, do we grasp all of the implications? Do we grasp that Eretz Yisrael, Am Yehudi both in Israel and worldwide, Torah and Kiddush Hashem are all at stake?
May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard, captive Gilad Shalit and the other MIAs be liberated alive returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem. May we have the courage to stand up to prevent any further evictions of Jews from their homes and to prevent any further handing over of Jewish land to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bim hay v’yameinu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.