This Shabbos we read Parshas Pinchas. The Torah describes to us the incident of Pinchas. The Jewish people had succumbed to the daughters of Moav who tried to seduce them. A plague came from Hashem upon the Jewish people, killing twenty four thousand of them. The Prince of the tribe of Shimoen took a Midianite Princess in public to sin with her. Pinchas saw this, and killed him, as Jewish law states “Haboel Aramis Kannain pogin bo” – One who has relations with a non-Jew may be struck by those who are “Jealous” for Hashem.” For this Hashem rewarded Pinchas with an eternal covenant and priesthood. What does it mean to be “Jealous” for Hashem? Why was Pinchos rewarded for this feeling?
In Path of the Just (Messilas Yeshorim) Rav Luzzato explains that there are two different forces that operate within us: Love and fear. Fear causes constriction. When we are afraid of something, we hold back from doing it. If you are driving and you notice a police car nearby, you don’t slow down because you feel love for the police man. You slow down because you are scared of the possibility of a ticket. When one does something out of fear, that is basically self centered. Whatever doesn’t contain a possibility of hurting me, doesn’t interest me.
Love of Hashem, on the other hand, is a much greater emotion. It is feeling closeness and care for Hashem. One of the results of this feeling is concern for the honor of Hashem. Instead of saying – “what I do is my business, what he does is his business”, one who loves Hashem will feel pain if someone else is not serving Hashem. Like a son who is bothered when his brother argues with his father, a person who loves Hashem will be bothered if people are rebelling against Hashem, or not observing His commandments. How to deal with each situation is a separate question. What is clear, however, is that the feeling one must have is one of care, not of indifference. When we feel this “Jealousy”, we truly are connected to Hashem, and have truly followed in the footsteps of Pinchas.