Hebraic Studies - Parashat Pinchas - Study N1

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Parashat Pinchas Study N1

Be’midbar - Numbers 25-10 to 30:1.

With Rabbi Reuven Ben-Avraham.

This week’s parsha, “Pinchas” begins with ’s rewarding Phinchas for taking revenge against Zimri, who was the leader of the tribe of Shimeon, for his sin of cohabitating with a Midianite princess.  bestowed upon Pinchas His “covenant of peace”

“And spoke unto Moshe, saying: ‘Phinchas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Acharon - Aaron the priest, hath turned My wrath away from the children of Israel, in that he was very jealous for My sake among them, so that I consumed not the Children of Israel in My jealousy. Wherefore say: Behold, I give unto him My covenant of peace; and it shall be unto him, and to his seed after him, the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was jealous for his God, and made atonement for the children of Israel’” Be’midbar - Numbers. 25:10-13 (JPS).

This meant that he and his descendants would have the status of Cohanim (Priests). The main role of the Cohen is to teach the people the Torah, and to perform the service in the Temple and facilitate peaceful relations among the people.

The Torah recounts that when Acharon - Aaron died he was mourned by the House of Israel in contradistinction to Moshe who was “only” mourned by the “Children of Israel.” It would appear from this that Acharon - Aaron was more beloved by the people than Moshe. This is not to say that his accomplishments were greater. No, Moshe Rabbenu was the faithful teacher and shepherd of all the Hebrews, and as we know, no one ever reached a higher level of prophecy or attained his level of humbleness. It is hard to imagine that anyone ever achieved a more perfect level of dedication to the nation. He had no desire for power and yet responded to ’s charge to lead the people out of Egypt and prepare them to receive the Torah at Mt. Sinai. Even when they sinned he never lost his commitment to their welfare and with great determination he refused when Elohim, blessed be His Sanctified Name, threatened to destroy the sinning Hebrews around the golden calf and create a new nation out of him. As great as Acharon - Aaron was, it is safe to say that no Jewish leader can come close to the level of Moshe Rabbenu. Yet apparently, Acharon - Aaron was more popular and beloved than his younger brother. An important lesson can be learned from this, for popularity is not a barometer of one’s true importance and their accomplishments. Acharon - Aaron and Moshe each had their specific role to play and interacted with the people in obviously different ways. Moshe was the great thinker, teacher and spiritual leader. His job was to elevate the people to an exalted plane and this inevitably required that he also had to rebuke them whenever it was necessary. There is a certain, instinctive, resentment against great role models. They rouse us from our laziness and cause us to feel guilty about our failures. We often get caught up in our emotions and fail to appreciate that the genuine teacher of the Torah has only our truest interests at heart. We have a different attitude towards the personality of an Acharon - Aaron. He treats us with love and understanding and seeks to repair the damage we have caused in important relationships. He does not guide us with abstract and lofty teachings but with concrete suggestions and complimentary words of encouragement. We form a greater attachment to Acharon - Aaron personality because we experience his compassion and helpfulness in a manner which impacts most on our emotions. The great leaders of the Jewish people are those who do not value or seek popularity. Moshe was only concerned with fulfilling his mission to render our people into a “Kingdom of Priests” and a Holy Nation, for he had their nothing but their very best interests at heart

Whilst Acharon - Aaron related to the people in the manner which was most suited to his task of facilitating peaceful relations and the popularity he experienced was merely a by-product and not the goal. 

Phinchas - Pinchas’ deed was based purely on his love of and desire to uproot a terrible evil from Klal Yisrael. He did not care about the anger and hostility it would engender. He was unconcerned with the opinion of man. All that mattered to him was the approval of . With that attitude Elohim said as we know;

Behold, I give unto him My covenant of peace; and it shall be unto him, and to his seed after him, the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was jealous for his God, and made atonement for the children of Israel’” Be’midbar - Numbers. 25:12-13 (JPS).

Rabbi Reuven Ben-Avraham.


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