Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Parshas Pinchas

Tempered Blessing

Pinchas is a tainted hero. Rashi records for us that the tribes of Israel, especially the tribe of Shimon, complained that someone who is a descendant of “one who fattened calves for paganism and dares kill a head of a tribe in Israel” should not be entitled to any honors. The Lord, so to speak, comes to his defense and grants the gift of the priesthood to him and his descendants and also the supreme blessing of peace. The Torah records his genealogy as being from Elazar and Aharon and not from the one who “fattened calves for idolatry.” Yet, even this restoration of status and Godly confirmation of the Rectitude of Pinchas is also somewhat reserved. In the word “shalom” that marks the covenant of peace granted to Pinchas by God, the letter “vav” in this word, as it is written in the Torah, is split and cracked. He is not granted the full blessing of peace but rather a diminished portion of it. Our rabbis taught us that this is because his heroics involved violence and the taking of human life, albeit in a just and holy cause. Nevertheless, peace obtained through violence and the death of others, even if those deaths are unavoidably necessary and completely justified, is always somewhat tarnished, cracked and split. Pinchas is completely vindicated and rehabilitated by the Torah, but a lingering resentment against his act of boldness and zealotry remains present amongst the Jewish people.

Pinchas reappears later in Jewish history in the book of Shoftim/Judges. There he is the High Priest and according to some opinions, the leader of the Sanhedrin as well. The Talmud records for us that in the tragic story of Yiftach and his daughter, in which Yiftach vowed to sacrifice the living creature that would first confront him when he returned home after the successful war against Bnei Ammon, was first greeted by his daughter upon his return home. The Talmud is of the opinion that Yiftach’s vow could have been annulled legally by the court of Pinchas. But Pinchas insisted that Yiftach come to him to obtain such an annulment while Yiftach felt that this would be an affront to his position as the “shofeit” judge and temporal leader of Israel So nothing was done, the vow remained, and the innocent life of Yiftach’s daughter was snuffed out on the altar of pride. So Pinchas is slightly tarnished in this story as well.

The eventual complete redemption of Pinchas occurs when the Talmud equates him with the prophet Eliyahu. It is therefore Pinchas/Eliyahu who accompanies the Jewish people throughout the ages and the troubles. He is present at every brit milah and at every Pesach seder. He is the harbinger of our complete redemption, the one who will bind the generations together and is the symbol of hope and the glorious future of Israel and humankind. It is as Eliyahu that Pinchas receives the undisputed heroic stature that the Lord grants to him in this week’s parsha. May we see him speedily in our days.

Shabat Shalom.
Rabbi Berel Wein


Text Copyright © 2005 by Rabbi Berel Wein and Torah.org


 






ARTICLES ON VAYEITZEI AND CHANUKAH:

View Complete List

Shehechiyanu in Bergen Belsen
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5756

The Meaning of Miracles
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5766

Torah Values
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5773

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Thanks for What?
Shlomo Katz - 5774

That's Chanukah
Rabbi Label Lam - 5772

Reaching Upward
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5764

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Some on Chariots, and Some on Horses
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5758

What Miracle?
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5760

Torah Education
Rabbi Wein - 5768

> It's Who You're Dealing With
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5761

Profit from Loss, Light from Darkness
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5762

The Inns and Outs of Galus
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5761

ArtScroll

A New Perspective
Shlomo Katz - 5768

To Achieve Your Goals and not Cause Jealousy
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5770

Whew! What a Message!
Rabbi Label Lam - 5768

Rabbi Frand on Parshas Vayeitzei
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5770



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