Friday, July 15, 2011

Parshat Pinchas - פרשת פינחס

"Therefore say - Behold, I shall give to him my covenant: peace - לכן אמר הנני נותן לו את-בריתי שלום"
(Bamidbar 25:12)

In this week's Parsha, we read of how Zimri ben Salu, a Nasi of the tribe of Shimon, slept with a Midianite woman, Cozbi bat Tzur. Pinchas, furious with their illicit relationship, slaughtered them together simultaneously with his spear. In this context, it is interesting to read of Hashem's instruction to Moshe - to bless Pinchas with a Brit Shalom (a peace covenant). After such a violent episode it certainly does seems fitting for Pinchas to be blessed with peace, but is there anything else going on beneath the surface, another dimension to this blessing that we may explore?

In Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch's chumash, the commentary on this part of the Parsha details how Hashem "places the responsibilty for the realisation of the supreme harmony of peace on precisely those who individuals whose actions a thoughtless world, anxious to mask its passivity and negligence as 'love of peace,' would brand and condemn as 'disturbances of the peace.'" Whereas the act of killing Zimri and Cozbi might seem horrifying, and understandbly so, we must understand that when an action is required, we must be ready to peform our duties without a moment's hesitation.

I believe that there's a pertinent message to be learned from this episode. Unfortunately, many times Israel has been forced to act in a strong way in order to defend itself. Consequently Israel comes under a hail of criticism for her actions, even if the actions were the right ones. All kinds of "logical" arguments are thrown at the Jewish nation, each with the aim of persuading us from ceasing to defend ourselves. The concept of pacifism is something entirely laudable, but when other nations tell the Jews to be pacifists in the face of terrorism the concept becomes laughable. Unfortunately, there are elements of Jewish and Israeli society who are convinced that if only Israel were to stop defending herself would there be peace and the Arabs would live in peace with us.

Pinchas' blessing of peace was entirely fitting as it was proof that he had acted in the right way. If he had taken a half measure, he would have compromised on his values and not acted out of total fear and love for God. The relevant psukim specifically mention Zimri's and Cozbi's familiy background - if Pinchas had any level of fear for anything other than God, he would have been too scared to act the way he did. We must understand that while we cannot go about killing people carte blanche (this was a special case and not the norm) we must always be ready to act on behalf of Hashem and for this to be true, we must be at peace with our relationship towards Hashem. The truth of the matter is that anyone who fights against that which is injust and immoral, no matter what the world thinks or what is deemed politically correct, is a champion of true peace. Conversely, anyone who cedes ground to an opposition that is in conflict with God is an enemy of peace. It makes no sense to make concessions to an enemy who is in direct conflict with God and for this reason, it is exactly because of Pinchas' dedication and commitment to Hashem that he deserved the blessing of peace.

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom!

No comments:

Post a Comment