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פינחס בן אלעזר בן אהרן הכהן השיב את חמתי מעל בני ישראל בקנאו את קנאתי בתוכם... לכן אמר הנני נותן לו את בריתי שלום

Pinchas ben Elazar ben Aharon HaKohen turned back My wrath from upon Bnei Yisrael when he zealously avenged My vengeance among them… Therefore, say: Behold! I give him My covenant of peace. (25:11,12)

The Midrash begins with the statement, B’din hu she’yitol scharo, “It is only halachically correct that Pinchas should receive his just reward. Therefore, I give him the Covenant of Peace.” What is the meaning of the phrase b’din hu, “It is by right (halachically)”? Horav Chaim Soloveitchik, zl, explains that reward is measured and repaid middah k’neged middah, measure for measure. Pinchas’ act of zealousness certainly warranted reward, but could Brisi Shalom, “My Covenant of Peace,” be considered middah k’neged middah for an act of zealousness?  Superficially, Pinchas’ slaying Zimri does not appear to be a peaceful act. Asking such…

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צרור את המדינים

Harass the Midyanim. (25:17)

The Midyanim and Moavim facilitated the plot against the Jewish People by causing them to commit idolatry. They achieved this diabolical goal by inciting the Jewish men to acts of immorality with the pagan women. Tzaror, harass, is a constant form of enmity. Chazal (Midrash, Bamidbar Rabbah 25) teach that one who causes his fellow to sin is worse than one who physically takes his life. One who murders does not cause his fellow to lose his eternal place in the World to Come. One who causes another to sin, however,makes him lose both worlds. We see this from the…

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יפקד ד' אלקי הרוחות לכל בשר איש על העדה

May Hashem, G-d of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man on the assembly. (27:16)

Moshe Rabbeinu expressed his request for a successor in a unique manner, delineating special criteria. He refers to Hashem as “G-d of the spirits of all flesh.” Rashi explains Moshe’s choice of words: “He said to Hashem, ‘It is revealed and known to You the thoughts of each person, and how they differ one from another; appoint a leader who is able to tolerate each and every one of them with their individual attitudes.’” Horav Shlomo Wolbe, zl, explains that an effective leader does not decide on a specific approach to serving Hashem and then impose that approach on all…

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יפקד ד' אלקי הרוחות לכל בשר איש על העדה... ויאמר ד'... קח לך את יהושע בן נון איש אשר רוח בו

May Hashem, G-d of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the assembly… Hashem said… take to yourself Yehoshua bin Nun, a man in whom there is spirit. (27:16,18)

Moshe Rabbeinu chose a special way of addressing Hashem, “God of the spirits of all flesh.” Rather than refer to Hashem’s Omnipresence or wisdom, Moshe chose to speak of Hashem’s knowledge of the intricacies and foibles of the human mind and personality. Every person has his own unique persona and it is crucial for a leader to understand this and to know how to reach out to each person according to his own personal needs and wants. Moshe implied that his successor must embody as much of these Divine characters as humanly possible. In order to accommodate his flock, Moshe’s successor…

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פנחס בן אלעזר בן אהרן השיב את חמתי... לכן אמר הנני נתן לו את בריתי שלום

Pinchas ben Elazar ben Aharon HaKohen, turned back my wrath… therefore say: Behold! I give him My Covenant of peace. (25:11,12)

When an opportunity for greatness appears, most people remain spectators, afraid to make that critical move due to fear of failure, indifference, or just plain laziness. One person, however, will emerge from within the crowd and seize the moment to grab the opportunity. As a result, he will save the day and change the course of his own life. Zimri, Prince of the Tribe of Shimon, blatantly carried out an act of moral turpitude, and, had Pinchas not immediately and decisively intervened, Klal Yisrael would have suffered even greater losses than it did. It took extraordinary courage for Pinchas to…

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פנחס בן אלעזר בן אהרן הכהן

Pinchas ben Elazar ben Aharon HaKohen. (25:11)

The Torah traces Pinchas’ lineage to Aharon HaKohen. What about his maternal grandfather, Yisro? The Torah appears to gloss over his connection to Pinchas. Rashi explains that, as usual, people must find fault with the hero who saves the day. Otherwise, they might look bad, since, after all, why did they not take action? As usual, we put down the individual who acted decisively because it bothers us that he did – and we did not. They brought to our attention that Pinchas descended from Yisro, the Midyanite Priest, who fattened calves for avodah zarah, idol-worship. How could such a…

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פנחס בן אלעזר בן אהרן הכהן השיב את חמתי מעל בני ישראל בקנאו את קנאתי בתוכם

Pinchas ben Elazar ben Aharon HaKohen, turned back my wrath from upon Bnei Yisrael, when he zealously avenged My vengeance among them. (25:11)

Pinchas did not act in a vacuum. The entire nation witnessed his actions. What were they doing? Some were (of course) complaining and disparaging his lineage, claiming that his motives were impure. According to Targum Yonasan, the rest cried and recited Krias Shema. They cried, explains Chezkuni, because Moshe Rabbeinu had instructed them to kill the perpetrators who had sinned with the Midyanite women. It was a difficult order to carry out. Shevet Levi, who were once again empowered to be the righteous executioners, did not seem to have an issue (earlier) when the order came to kill the offenders…

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ובני קרח לא מתו

And the sons of Korach did not die. (26:11)

The sons of Korach were (originally) in the thick of the dispute against Moshe Rabbeinu. Rashi explains that, at the very last moment, they repented. Regardless of how far one has drifted from Jewish observance, how distant he has strayed from traditional life and Torah values, he can return and be reinstated. People think that once they have rejected the Torah way it is impossible to come back. This is categorically incorrect. The Ponevezer Rav, zl, was about to leave on a journey to the United States. His revered Rebbe, the Chafetz Chaim, zl, was still alive. The Rav went…

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פנחס בן אלעזר בן אהרן הכהן השיב את חמתי מעל בני ישראל בקנאו את קנאתי בתוכם

Pinchas ben Elazar ben Aharon HaKohen turned back My wrath from upon Bnei Yisrael, when he zealously avenged My vengeance among them. (25:11)

Kinaah and kanaus, jealousy and zealousness, are two terms which share the same root word. Indeed, Rashi interprets kanaus, zealousness, as a jealous reaction, which results in vengeance. One becomes outraged when something which he feels is rightfully his has been taken from him. A jealous person feels slighted by someone who has that which he feels is rightfully his. A true zealot feels that when someone impugns Hashem, His Torah and mitzvos, he is infringing upon his religion. Such a person has a sense of kinship with Hashem and is grievously hurt by an action which undermines Hashem. The…

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פנחס בן אלעזר בן אהרן הכהן השיב את חמתי מעל בני ישראל בקנאו את קנאתי בתוכם

Pinchas ben Elazar ben Aharon HaKohen, turned back My wrath from upon Bnei Yisrael, when he zealously avenged My vengeance among them. (25:11)

It is not always about who one is or from whom one descends. It is about: how much one cares; how concerned he is; if he is willing to take responsibility – or remain indifferent – like everyone else around him. Ichpasius – concern, a feeling of responsibility – this is what Pinchas demonstrated, explains Horav Shimshon Pincus, zl. Klal Yisrael was there watching, most of them probably stunned beyond belief. How could this be happening to us? How could such an outrage occur in the holy camp? While they stood there questioning, Pinchas took action. Why? Because he cared….

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