Pinchas 2005

This week’s Parsha Tells of the grand finale of the episode of Pinchas. After Bilam was prevented from cursing the Jewish people, he gave parting advice to Balak the king of Moab. He told him that since the Almighty hates immorality, he should send the daughters of Moab to entice the Jewish men to acts of illicit relations. Tragically, this was somewhat successful, and Hashem sent a plague to punish the Jewish people. 24,000 people died in this plague. During this episode, Zimri the prince of the tribe of Shimon, publicly brought Kazbi, the daughter of a Moabite leader to the Jewish camp to have relations with her. Pinchas reminded Moses of the Jewish law regarding such a situation-when a Jewish man publicly has relations with a Gentile girl: “Kanain Pogin Bo”- “Those who are jealous for Hashem kill him”. Moses told Pinchas that since he remembed the law, he should be the one to carry it out. Pinchas proceeded to risk his life and kill both Zimri and Kazbi. This brought the plague that Hashem had brought upon the Jewish people to an abrupt end.

The Parsha begins with the tremendous reward that Hashem promised to Pinchas for his actions. “Pinchas…turned back my anger from the Jewish people when he avenged my vengeance among them, and I didn’t destroy them in my vengeance. Therefore … I am giving him my covenant of peace.” (Numbers 25: 11-12)

What is the relationship between a covenant of peace, and the act of Pinchas? Doesn’t a covenent of peace seem like a peculiar reward to receive for killing someone? The Netziv explains, that by nature of the act of Pinchas, physically killing someone, could easily arouse a long lasting emotion of cruelty and brazenness. By nature, a person who did such a thing should have become much tougher, and less of a peaceful person. Hashem gave Pinchas a special blessing that from his action there would be no bad influences to his character. Rather, he will remain a person who lives with others in peace. This merit was because his act was purely for the sake of heaven, with no ulterior motivations at all. Hashem therefore promised that he would always have the special designation of being a man of peace.

In life we sometimes must stand up and do something, even though it may seem cruel. For example, sometimes a child must be disciplined and punished. Whatever, the situation, one thing we do learn from Pinchas. Care must always be taken that no residue of any bad influences remain with us. If our actions are for the sake of heaven, then Hashem will help us retain a sterling and refined character, to serve Him and interact with our fellow man as a Jew should.