Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
  LifeLine
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Pinchas

by Rabbi Yaakov Menken


"Pinchas, the son of Elazar, the son of Aharon the Priest, has turned away My anger from the children of Israel, by being zealous for My vengeance amongst them; and [thus] I did not destroy the children of Israel in My vengeance. Therefore, I say, behold I give to him My Covenant of Peace." [25:11-12]

People often like to discuss passages in the Torah which they find perplexing or contradictory, and I'm surprised that this parsha is rarely mentioned in that context. We see that Pinchas is called "jealous for HaShem," and this we can understand. But he is also given the "Covenant of Peace" - he killed someone, and the Torah calls him a peacemaker!

It sounds like a euphemism from the Cold War, but the Torah isn't given to this sort of exaggeration. The Torah traces the lineage of Pinchas back to Aharon, about whom Hillel said in the Sayings of the Fathers, 1:12, "Be of the disciples of Aharon, loving peace and pursuing peace, loving people, and bringing them closer to the Torah." How can we understand this?

Rabbi Shimshon Raphael Hirsch says that a Bris, a covenant, represents an absolute promise from G-d. HaShem promises us that the world will eventually see complete peace and harmony - and affirms that the actions of Pinchas were a step in the right direction. Rabbi Hirsch notes that the behavior of Pinchas is exactly that which the world likes to designate and condemn as "disturbing the peace" - but this, he explains, is not the failure of Pinchas. This is a grave fault in a world which fails to respond to evil, and inappropriately labels its thoughtlessness and inactivity as "love of peace."

Peace is indeed precious, and one must be prepared to sacrifice one's rights and possessions on its behalf, but not that which G-d has declared to be right and good. Peace can only be maintained when we are at peace with G-d. If someone fights those who are against Divine Goodness and Truth, explains Rabbi Hirsch, he is fighting for the Covenant of Peace.

Rabbi Hirsch goes still further - and criticizes those who would prefer to stand silent while evil goes on around them: "He who, for the sake of so-called peace, quietly leaves the field to people who are really at variance with G-d, his love of peace is at one with the enemies of the Covenant of Peace on earth. It was not the inactive standing apart of the masses, not even the tears of those who stood inactive at the entrance of the Sanctuary weeping at the treason, it was the honest brave act of Pinchas which saved the nation and restored his peace with G-d and His Law and thereby brought back the basis for real true peace on earth" [translation by Isaac Levy, Judaica Press 1989].

The Medrash Rabba [Genesis 8:5] says in the name of Rabbi Seemon that when G-d wanted to create man, the attending angels divided into groups to argue the matter. "Kindness and truth encountered each other; righteousness and peace kissed each other" [Psalms 85:11]. Kindness said "create him, for he will perform acts of kindness." Truth said "do not create him, for he is entirely lies." Righteousness said "create him, for he will do righteous acts." And Peace said "do not create him, for he is full of argument." What did G-d do? He took Truth and cast him to the ground.

The Kotzker Rebbe, famed for his sharp comments, asks the following question: what about Peace? Fine, the majority was now in favor, but nonetheless is there not a lack of Peace? So he answered: without Truth, Peace is trivial to achieve.

If we don't care about truth, it's easy to have peace - as Rav Hirsch explained it, the false peace of those who don't care enough to stand and defend that which is right and good. Only when we are unafraid to take sides where appropriate, do we build a peace which is lasting and good.

Good Shabbos,
Rabbi Yaakov Menken


 






ARTICLES ON LECH LECHA:

View Complete List

Cloudy Vision
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5768

Entering the Land of Canaan
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5770

Reaching Greatness: Living in the Land of Israel
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5775

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

There is a Builder
Shlomo Katz - 5759

Spiritual Yichus
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5764

The Internal Journey
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5759

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Lucky Man
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5767

Avram Lifted Up His Hand...So That You Not Say
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5773

Participating in G-ds Master Plan
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5774

ArtScroll

Uniquely Human
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5762

Every Drop Matters
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5758

A Fuzzy Picture
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5759

> The Founders of Our People
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5772

The Lech Lecha Test Rates Higher Than The Ur Kasdim Test
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5772

Suicide Moms
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5762

Jealousy or Love?
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5760



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information