Carrying G-d's Parcels
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch
At the end of last week's parsha, Bilam found himself unable to curse the
Jewish people on behalf of the Moavite leadership who hired him. Therefore,
he suggested an alternative approach to the downfall of the Children of
Israel: lure them to immorality. Enticing the men to debauchery would surely
bring the wrath of G-d upon the Jews. The paradigm of this rebellion was the
public immorality of Zimri, a leader of the tribe of Shimon, with Cozbi, one
of the princesses of Midian who were personally assisting to assure the
success of the Moavite plot. The rebellion brought a Divine plague upon the
Jewish nation that caused 24,000 deaths. Only the zealous response of
Pinchas in publicly executing Zimri and Cozbi in the middle of their act
ended the rebellion and the accompanying plague.
For this, Pinchas was rewarded. "Pinchas, the son of Elazar the son of Aaron
the Kohen, turned away My wrath from upon the Children of Israel when he
avenged Me among them, so I did not annihilate the Children of Israel 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." (Bamidbar/Numbers 25:11-13) Rashi explains that Pinchas'
vengeance was manifest in "his becoming angry with the anger I (G-d) should
Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (1895-1986; Rosh Yeshiva/Dean of Mesivtha Tifereth
Jerusalem in New York City; the leading decisor of Jewish law of his time)
elaborates that Rashi's stressing this facet of Pinchas' reaction - that he
fulfilled that which G-d would have done Himself - indicates it was the
primary source of his reward, and that we can extend this lesson to
ourselves. The Talmud in Tractate Bava Basra (10a) presents the question
asked by the evil Roman general Turnus Rufus: If G-d really loves the poor
then why does He not give them sustenance? The great Rabbi Akiva answered:
So that we may have the merit of helping them to save US from punishment in
Gehinnom. Thus, continues Rabbi Feinstein, G-d addresses His responsibility
to sustain the poor by giving us the opportunity to perform "His work" for
our own good.
But we should not be so foolish as to believe that we are the ones actually
providing the poor one's livelihood, having relieved G-d of His
responsibility; we are really only conduits for G-d's blessing. Rabbi
Feinstein makes an analogy to a parent who has parcels to carry. The child
wants to help so the parent finds a light package for the child to carry. In
actuality, the child has not really done a favor for the parent - it would
have not been any challenge for the parent to carry the "child's" parcel as
well. But the child's desire to help, as a demonstration of his love and
adoration for the parent, is the parent's delight. Such is the nature of the
"pleasure" in our doing what G-d Himself would have done.
Thus, in return for taking upon ourselves to carry G-d's "parcels", for
doing that which G-d Himself would have done, we receive a double reward.
First, in our lifelong pursuit of "G-d consciousness" we have this ultimate
avenue of emulating His ways and manifesting our role of having been created
in "G-d's image" by literally acting G-dly. More so, in return, we assure
ourselves a special reward, in the form of an enhanced relationship with
Have a good Shabbos!
Copyright © 2002 by Rabbi Pinchas Avruch and Project Genesis, Inc.
Kol HaKollel is a publication of the Milwaukee Kollel Center for Jewish
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