We learn about the root for the momentus event of Pinchas’ zealous act against Zimri and Kosbi from an obscure posuk in Parsha Ki Tisa. “Vet Aaron v’et banav timshach v’kiddashtah otam l’Cohen Li” — Hashem tells Moshe Rabbeinu; “You shall annoint Aaron and his sons and sanctify them as priests unto me.” And we ask, What happened to that Pinchas ben Elazar ben Aaron Ha Kohen.
We actually learn about Pinchas and his zealousness on behalf of Shemayim near the end of last week’s Parsha Balak.
Pinchas saw the sin of the Ba’al Peor happening on a massive scale, that Jews were dying and that one of the more prominent leaders of B’nai Yisrael was taking part. He feared for the Chillul Hashem taking place and remembered the appropriate Halacha taught by Moshe regarding circumstances where zealousness was necessary. And so we learn that after consulting with his Rebbe, moshe Rabbeinu, Pinchas maneuvered into position and slew both Zimri and Kozbi with the same spear in one fell swoop. At that moment, in merit of Pinchas’ act, the plague which had killed 24,000 Jewish men ceased.
In the merit of Pinchas’ act, we learn in our Parsha that he is honored by Hashem in having the parsha named for him, in having the Kehuna conveyed upon him and in being granted eternal life.
Hashem silenced those politically correct who demanded that Pinchas be executed, who couldn’t see past that he murdered a leader of B’nai Yisrael, albeit that Zimri acted inappropriately for his station and in attempting to perpetuate an immense Chillul Hashem.
Our Parsha relates that “Hashem spoke to Moshe saying: Pinchas, son of Elazar, son of Aaron HaKohen, turned back my wrath from upon the B’nai
Yisrael, when he zealously avenged Me among them, so that I did not consume the B’nai Yisrael in My vengeance. Therefore, say: Behold! I give him My covenant of peace. And it shall be for him and his offspring after him a covenant of eternal priesthood, because he took vengeance for his G’d, and he atoned for the B’nai Yisrael.” (Parsha Bamidbar, Perek 25, posukim 10 – 13)
And we find out that there are two ways to understand these posukim. One way is that Pinchas ben Elazar didn’t get “grandfathered in” to the Kehunah at the time of Matan Torah. Here we learn that, unlike the other Kohanim descended fom the sons of Aaron post-Matan Torah who received the Kehunah as an automatic birthright, Pinchas only gained the eternal Kehunah on the merit of his act against Zimri and Kasbi before the eyes of the Assembly, his sanctification and preservation of the Kedusha of Hashem. The second way of understanding is that Pinchas, while being a Kohen, was zocha to rise to the position of Kohen Godol succeeding his Father, Elazar and from his seed would come the future Kehunah.
The Sefas Emes asks on the “… covenant of eternal priesthood…”, “What is the measure for measure in this? The reason is that there were many among the B’nai Yisrael who were ashamed at Zimri’s deed, but did not do anything about it until Pinchas arose. In this, Pinchas’ action was similar to that of the Kohanim. Therefore, it was measure for measure that he deserved to become the Kohen Godol.” (Torah Gems, Aharon Yaakov Greenberg, Parsha Pinchas, page 135.)
There is another quote on “… My Covenant of peace…” from Y. Eiger,
The word for peace, ‘Shalom’ is related to the word ‘shalem,’ perfect. A zealot must be perfect, without blemish, before acting.”
Again, as has been said previously, Hashem has the potion, the kli for rectification and preservation of His Name in place, before the Chait, before B’nai Yisrael is stricken with the disease of impurity of the avodah zora, the Ba’al Pe’or.
And later in history, we learn in Megilat Esther that the cure — Esther HaMalka and Mordechai HaYehudi are already in place to act to rectify impurity, to save B’nai Yisrael as the drama of Haman’s Gezeira Ra’ah against the B’nai Yisrael is played out.
To fast-forward to present day, no one has yet arrived who can be seen as being on a level of perfection comparable Pinchas. Perhaps the best which can be expected is for one to have the strength and courage of his convictions and to act representative of those convictions. To act even if in a sometimes hostile, politically correct environment such as that we live in today, the consequences of such actions result in loss of one’s job, loss of career track, loss of protexia, possible perceived disgrace or discreditation among one’s peers, or loss of leadership position or office either in the political or military relms, etc.
Over last Shabbos, someone approached this author asking about possible connections in Baltimore where it was indicated that former Chief of Staff General Moshe Yaalon will be speaking shortly in Baltimore. It was indicated that he will be accorded as a hero due to a number of his recent pronouncements denouncing the “disengagement” from Gaza and Olmert’s future plans for further “disengagement” from what we call Yehuda and Shomron which would affect 70,000 – 100,000 Jews and cause greivous security danger to the State of israel.
Yaalon stated recently; “We shouldn’t fool ourselves. We live in the Middle East. We cannot barricade ourselves behind walls and fences. There is no such thing as unilateralism. Even when we refuse to talk with our neighbors there is interaction with them.
Our steps affect them. When the steps are withdrawal after withdrawal, after withdrawal, we convey weakness. And he who conveys weakness in the Middle East is like a weak animal in nature: he comes under attack.”
But the question which should be asked and pondered is, where was Yaalon last year, before his term as Chief of Staff was brought to an abruptend by Sharon and Mofaz, before he was replaced by Dan Halutz?
What role, as Chief of Staff, did he actually play in planning the expulsion prior to his termination? Why was it that he waited to be sacked rather than resigning and withholding his help? Did he actually help to plan the expulsion at some stage? Why didn’t he adhere to his own words about weakness, about the consequences of weakness in a tough neighborhood where the weak are seen as prey as he now speaks out with such fervor? How concerned was he, at the time when he should have acted, about his career track, about his political future? Why, only a year afterwards, when the political climate may be more amenable, does he now speak out? Why is such a person seemingly accorded hero status?
How does Yaalon stack up against an Avi Bieber, a Hananel Dayan and others who stepped up and viewed their fellow Jews and the nation with a higher level of importance than their personal welfare or wellbeing and acted accordingly?
May it be in this year and beyond, that our brethren; the refugee families from Gush Katif and the Shomron (may they soon be restored to new homes and neighborhoods, Bati Knesset, Yeshivot in Gush Katif and the Shomron and only happiness and success for all time), as well as our dear brother, Jonathan Pollard (may he soon know freedom and long life in Eretz Yisrael) be central in our thoughts, prayers, chassadim and actions. May this abominable period of history called hitnatkut be as a bad dream.
May we be zocha in this coming year to take giant steps toward fulfilling 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 the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, “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.