Parshat Pinchas 5776: A Different Take on Pinchas and His Kehunah

Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua is being co- sponsored by Reuven and Leah Goldman and Yedidiya and Miriam Kramer of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated to gabai’im of Beis Tefillah Yona Avraham. To the Goldman and Kramer families, many thanks for your sponsorship, support and for your continued kindnesses.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.

Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
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Parshat Pinchas 5776: A Different Take on Pinchas and His Kehunah

by Moshe Burt

R’ Shimshon Raphael Hirsch Z”l (the new Hirsch Chumash published by Feldheim in 2005 and translated to English by Daniel Haberman) discusses the magnitude of the sin compelling Pinchas’ zealous action. R’ Hirsch provides translation of a few of the last posukim of Parsha Balak (Perek 25, posuk 6, page 524 and posukim 14 and 15, page 530) and commentaries:

“…A man from among B’nai Yisrael… brought the Midianite woman…” (posuk 6)

“The name of the slain man of Israel, who was slain with the Midianite woman was Zimri son of Salu, a prince of… the tribe of Shimon.” (posuk 14)

“The name of the slain Midianite woman [was] Kozbi, daughter of Tzur; he was the head of the peoples… in Midian.” (posuk 15)

A man of B’nai Yisrael had, with the Midianit flouted Hashem, His Torah and Israel. Therefore he became liable to punishment at the hands of a zealot… moved by zeal for Hashem, …Torah, and for Israel…

Rav Hirsch then writes on the merit of Pinchas’ act for which Hashem conveyed upon him the Kehunah (Perek 25, posuk 13, page 529):

…Just as the tribe of Levi attained the rank… by it’s actions at the sin of the golden calf and then was expressly chosen for this office, the same happened here: In his act of rescue, Pinchas acted as a Kohen…; he carried out in actual practice the atoning devotion which the avodah of the Kohen performs symbolically in the Sanctuary [Mishkan, Beit Hamikdash]. That is why he was elevated the rank of Kohen [everlasting Priesthood] after his act.

Rabbi Moshe Weissman, author of “The Midrash Says” writes in the final paragraph of rendering on Parshat Balak (“The Midrash Says” on Sefer Bamidbar, page 355):

With his courageous act, Pinchas restored Hashem’s honor. He ignored the importance of Zimri, who was a nassi, and of Kozbi, a Midyanite princess, thus demonstrating that Hashem’s honor matters above all. His achievement exemplifies the powerful results that can be achieved even by one individual who acts leshaim shemayim.

However, Shem Mishmuel (Shem Mishmuel, writings on the Parshiyot by Rabbi Shmuel Bornstein, z”l, the Rav of Sochaczev rendered to English by Rabbi Zvi Belovsky, pages 356-358) cites the Zohar in providing a different take on Pinchas and his Kehunah:

Any Kohen who kills someone is forever invalidated from the Kehunah [priesthood], for his act certainly abrogates his spiritual level. As for Pinchas [after he killed Zimri and Kozbi], according to law he was excluded from the Kehunah forevermore. And because he was zealous for Hashem, He needed to give him [Pinchas] a brand-new Kehunah, for him and his descendants after him, for all generations. (Zohar HaKadosh 3:214a)

This text cannot mean that Pinchas received the Kehunah for killing Zimri. If so, it would not have been a reward. Rather, he [Pinchas] would have retained it, despite the fact that he should have lost it.

We have seen that he [Pinchas] was described as “zealous for Hashem” when he killed Zimri and Kozbi. He was not actually obliged to perform this execution, but was entitled to do so under a complex and misunderstood law (Sanhedrin 81b). Pinchas was a man of such spiritual sensitivity that he could not bear to witness Zimri’s flagrant sin and so acted to restore Hashem’s honor.

Thus, in whatever way we understand, Hashem conveyed the Kehunah, and eternal life upon Pinchas in vindication regarding the vicious, false accusations against him and in recognition of the justness and Kiddush Hashem of his action. We can only hope that Hashem rewards those few and brave voices who speak out about Our Divine Right to Har Habayit and to all of Our Land — Eretz Yisrael. May those voices become our governmental leaders!

May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of two years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone 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 Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!
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.

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