Shabbat Shalom – Parashat Pinchas

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Below is a short commentary by Baruch of this week’s Torah Portion.  Shabbat Shalom!

Are you zealous for the things that are important to HaShem? In this week’s Torah portion one reads about Pinchas, a man who cared about the very matters that G-d cared about. The result of his zeal was that he killed two individuals who were about to commit an idolatrous act. I am certainly not suggesting that it is our place today to take such an action. One needs to remember that this occurred within the camp of the Children of Israel, when there was clear revelation that such an act was indeed punishable by death. Furthermore it seems that Pinchas only did what HaShem was about to do and he alleviated a greater number of people dying. Putting aside the act of Pinchas, let us focus on one of the outcomes of his zeal. One reads that G-d gave to him, His Covenant of Peace (Numbers 25:12). What is the meaning of this statement?

The Hebrew word for covenant relates to four concepts:

  1. Relationship
  2. Agreement
  3. Purity
  4. Blessing

There is no doubt from the passage that G-d was working in the life of Pinchas. It was precisely the zeal of Pinchas that gave evidence that HaShem was present within him. In other words, his act demonstrated that he not only knew that G-d existed, but what mattered to G-d. This is an outcome of having a relationshipwith HaShem. In order for a relationship to grow, there must be parameters to this relationship. These parameters are defined by G-d alone. Therefore, the agreement between HaShem and Pinchas is not a negotiated agreement, but one to which Pinchas surrendered, because to know G-d is to acknowledge that He always knows what is best.

When one affirms the truth of G-d and applies this truth to his or her life, it has a purifying influence. In the book of John, the Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of Truth (See John16:13). It is He, the Holy Spirit, Who has a purifying influence in the life of the believer. When these three things are part of one’s life—a relationship with G-d, an agreement with G-d concerning His truth, and when one is being purified by the Holy Spirit—then one is positioned to find blessing.

One must not lose sight of the fact that numerous people witnessed the same act which Pinchas witnessed, but it was only he who responded. Some scholars point out that the things with which HaShem rewarded Pinchas were really what he already possessed. It was really more of a matter of G-d acknowledging them publically before the people. Again, I ask you “Are you zealous for the things of G-d”? Many of the Children of Israel might have answered yes on that day, but it is significant that only one was truly zealous in a way that was pleasing to HaShem. Give it some serious thought before you answer.

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