Torah Weekly

For the week ending 19 July 2003 / 19 Tammuz 5763

Parshat Pinchas

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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G-d tells Moshe to inform Pinchas that Pinchas will receive G-d's "covenant of peace" as reward for his bold action - executing Zimri and the Midianite princess Kozbi. G-d commands Moshe to maintain a state of enmity with the Midianites who lured the Jewish People into sin. Moshe and Elazar are told to count the Jewish People. The Torah lists the names of the families in each tribe. The total number of males eligible to serve in the army is 601,730. G-d instructs Moshe how to allot the Land of Israel to Bnei Yisrael. The number of the Levites' families is recorded. Tzlofchad's daughters file a claim with Moshe: In the absence of a brother, they request their late father's portion in the Land. Moshe asks G-d for the ruling, and G-d tells Moshe that their claim is just. The Torah teaches the laws and priorities which determine the order of inheritance. G-d tells Moshe that he will ascend a mountain and view the Land that the Jewish People will soon enter, although Moshe himself will not enter. Moshe asks G-d to designate the subsequent leader, and G-d selects Yehoshua bin Nun. Moshe ordains Yehoshua as his successor in the presence of the entire nation. The Parsha concludes with special teachings of the service in the Beit Hamikdash.


Little Me

And it shall be for him and his offspring after him a covenant of eternal priesthood, because he took vengeance for his G-d" (25:13)

Why wasnt Pinchas anointed with Aharon and his descendents long before his extraordinary zeal in avenging G-ds name? Why was it necessary for Pinchas to be rewarded with a "covenant of eternal priesthood" rather than having the kehuna as his right?

The mystical sources teach that the soul of Pinchas came from the same soul-source as Cain. Cain killed his brother Hevel. The Zohar says that any kohen who murders is disqualified from the kehuna forever, and thus Pinchas, through Cain, "forfeited" his right for his offspring. Cain lost the kehuna for Pinchas, and only Pinchas extraordinary zeal earned the kehuna for himself and his descendents.

How did Pinchas actions heal the damage that Cains killing created?

The name Cain comes from the same root as kinyan, meaning "acquisition," as Chava, Cains mother, said "I have acquired a man with G-d." (Genesis 4:1) In Jewish thought, acquisition is synonymous with existence. We talk of G-d "acquiring Heaven and Earth." G-ds "acquisition" was the action by which he brought Heaven and Earth into existence.

In Cains eyes, he was the only acquisition in this world, its only existence. This is the root of all evil. For there can be no room for G-d in a world which is filled with "BIG ME." If the world is filled with the glory of ME, how can there be any other Existence? BIG ME is the root of all atheism. BIG ME is the root of all jealousy. And ultimate jealousy leads ultimately to murder. For BIG ME has no more effective means to remove jealousy than to remove the source of jealousy Little You. (You dont exist anyway.)

However, the sense of self can have a positive side. For every single person is obliged to say to himself "the world was created for me." (Sanhedrin 37) In some way, we are supposed to look at the world as though we were the only kinyan in it. In the Book of Chronicles it says that "The heart of King Yehoshofat, (son of David) was raised up in the ways of G-d." A heart can be high with ego and evil, or it can be raised up with a zealousness to serve G-d.

When Pinchas took it upon himself to avenge the vengeance of G-d, even though he was not obliged to do so, he tapped into the positive side of Cains unregenerate egocentricity.

For it is only when someone does something that they do not have to do can we recognize the paradox of the heart that is raised up to serve.


Based on the Shem MiShmuel

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