Blog Pinchas 24 Tammuz 5778 בלוג פִּינְחָס, כ”ד תמוז תשע”ח
Pinchas was the grandson of Aaron, the Cohen Hagadol. His name could have come from the Hebrew “peh-nachash” – פה נחש mouth of the serpent. This name was used to describe his qualities as many Hebrew names are. Here, it may seem that Pinchas was a fanatical zealot by killing Zimri and Kozbi but let’s look at the principles that our Creator is bringing to us through this incident after which he was given a brit shalom covenant of peace. The “vav” – ‘ ו ’ in the Hebrew word “shalom” – שלום was broken and the explanation given for this was that it took 24,000 deaths from a plague to achieve this peace. In comparison, the golden calf incident took the lives of 3000, unfolding the magnitude of this later sin.
Last week the Gentile prophet Bilaam, left without being able to curse Israel; however, he knew how to cause a lot of damage to Israel, by having their God lift His Hand of protection from them. Thus, he encouraged the Midianite women to entice the Israelite men to worship their god Baal-Peor through their form of harlotry. They succeeded. The Midianites didn’t care that they forced their own daughters to become whores because their hatred of Israel was stronger than any moral code. This can be applied to our world today. There is a fanatic Islamic group that is willing to see its own children killed to satisfy its hatred against Israel. Do you see the parallel? Israel suffers because they are falling into the same trap as they did with the Midianites.
The morality of the world today is being totally destroyed and we are in the transition from immorality to amorality. We have lost the idea of right and wrong. More and more people who supposedly live a moral life say that anyone is free to do whatever they want. It is true that we cannot legislate morality, but the immorality of others is being imposed upon us. For example, women can go anywhere to have an abortion but if anyone openly opposes it, they are called bigots and even terrorists. Our mouths are being muzzled. Those who practice and preach immorality are now leading the way. The bottom line is that they do have the right to believe whatever they want but they do not have the right to impose their immoral lifestyles upon the rest of society. Today many of the public parades contain horrendous obscenities and if you attend these parades, even if you are totally against them, you are part of the problem. Don’t be a hypocrite by standing there watching and judging.
Pinchas has been called a blood-thirsty zealot but was that really the case? What does the Torah say? In the last parashah Balak, in Numbers 25:5 it says, “And Moshe gave the order to the judges of Israel, ‘Each of you will put to death those of his people who have committed themselves to the Baal of Peor.” What did the judges do? Absolutely nothing because they were afraid. When Zimri defiantly went in front of the Ochel Moed – the Tent of Meeting, in front of everyone and performed despicable acts with Kozbi, it was too much for Pinchas.
Do you remember what Levi and Simeon did when their sister Dinah was defiled by the prince of Shechem (Genesis 34) and how Jacob could never forget it calling them bloodthirsty? From that moment on Levi, separated himself from Simeon and did his best to make restitution for his actions. Moreover, at the incident of the egel zahav – the golden calf, the Levites stood by Moshe killing those who were involved in the orgies with the foreign gods. Who was Pinchas? He was a Levite! Who was Zimri? He was from Simeon! They both made their choice. A principle displayed that we can apply to our lives here is to distance ourselves from bad company.
We can also draw another teaching from this story. Idolatry is certainly a no-no but the immoral behavior that comes in the form of sexual orgies is even worse. They have caused many civilizations to fall. History speaks for itself. There are three things that have brought mighty empires to their knees – dictators who have abused their people, the acceptance of amorality as the norm, and last, the hatred of Israel.
The Bore Olam – The Creator, makes His Will known to us, and we need to be willing to follow Him as Pinchas did. He was not a fanatic killer like the modern Baruch Goldstein rather he was willing to do what was needed to save his own people. Kozbi was a princess of the Moabites and led the way for the other women to tempt the young and vulnerable Israeli men to fall into both sexual and spiritual immorality. That was the only way that Israel could be defeated – from within. Nothing from without can destroy Israel. Pinchas stepped in and did what he needed to do. Are we willing to stand up for what is right today?
We are responsible for our actions and there are consequences of our behavior either good or bad. Morality involves integrity. It forces us into a constant battle within, where we have to decide to do what is right. It calls for us to have to make choices which are not always easy. I repeat, the immoral person knows what is right but doesn’t care and continues to do what is wrong until he becomes amoral where he no longer knows the difference. Psychology calls them sociopaths and psychopaths. That is where this civilization is headed. Let’s pray for this world which is in a rapid downward spiral toward self-destruction. Thankfully, our Creator will never abandon His children and that is the only hope for humanity.