The Parsha this week is Parshas Pinchos. In Parshas Pinchos the Torah tells us of the results of the heroic actions of Pinchas. The Jewish people had succumbed to the enticement presented to them by the Middianite women. Many Jewish men sinned with them. Hashem punished the Jewish people with a plague, resulting in the death of 24,000 Jewish men. When Zimri, the price of the tribe of Shimon took a Midianite princess in public to sin with her, Pinchas arose and killed him. This is in accordance with the Jewish law “one who lives with a Gentile women, those who are zealous for Hashem kill him.” Pinchas did so at great risk to his own life. The Talmud counts ten miracles that occurred when Pinchas killed Zimri, so that Pinchas was successful. As soon as Pinchas killed Zimri, the plague that had come upon the Jewish people stopped. Hashem rewarded Pinchas, who had been born before his family were made Kohanim (Kohens - Priests) by making him a Kohen. Hashem also promised Pinchas a special “covenant of peace”.
The Alshich explains that a person is composed of two parts: the body and the soul. We have a choice of which part to make the focus of our life: the body or the soul. Some people make their priority to serve Hashem, and sacrifice their body for the sake of their soul. Others make their physical needs their priority and sacrifice their souls for their body. Pinchas was ready to sacrifice his life for the honor of Hashem. His reward was that he was now given both, a covenant of peace for the body and soul. Even his children will eternally be Kohanim (priests) in his merit. Zimri, on the other hand, desecrated Hashem’s name and went after physical pleasures, letting his soul slide to give pleasure to his body. The result was that he lost everything – his life and his future.
The Stiepler Gaon adds that the natural consequence of doing something like Pinchas did would be to cause strife and friction among people. Someone who acts in the way of Pinchas, we would imagine, will be constantly embroiled in arguments and divisiveness. The truth is that if the motivation behind what Pinchas did was simply to lash out and attack, then he would certainly remain a man of war, not a person of peace. The Torah tells us that since Pinchas did his actions for the sake of Hashem, not just out of being a “hothead”, his reward will be to have a covenant of peace, to live in unity and peace with others.