Blog Pinchas Tammuz 19 5780 בלוג פִּינְחָס, י”ט תמוז תש”פ
This portion is called Pinchas, who was a Cohen since he was the first-born son of Eleazar, Aaron’s son. It is important to note here that Pinchas’ mother was a Midianite. If he was already a cohen why would the Creator have given Pinchas an eternal priesthood? Was he a zealot? Today those who kill anyone in defence of their god are called zealots, fanatics or in other words, terrorists!
The Torah paints beautiful pictures for us to understand our Creator’s teachings. Pinchas’ name – פִּינְחָס – was derived from “Pi -פִּי Nachash -נְחָש” meaning the “mouth of the serpent”. A serpent has a forked tongue depicting someone who speaks from both sides of his mouth; in other words, he cannot be trusted, like the prophet Bilaam from last week’s portion. In Hebrew, a word can have opposite meanings. The serpent’s tongue can be poisonous or healing. The serpent was hung on the pole for those who trusted Moshe’s words. When they looked up at it, the Bore Olam healed them. Pinchas stood up for what is right, and we need to follow his example. That doesn’t mean that we need to kill someone, however, our words can have a great effect upon others. As Pinchas used a spear to end the plague, our tongue can be like a sword cutting through to the chase.
What is the difference between what Pinchas did and what the fanatic terrorists do? In order to look for answers from the Torah, we need to understand what was happening at that time. Israel was about to enter the Promised Land; the people had to pass through hostile territories on the way. However, contact with these other nations caused the younger generation of Israelites to be enticed to their foreign ways and to rebel against “the system” that the Creator, through Moshe had set up. One of the young leaders, a “prince” named Zimri from the tribe of Simeon was challenging this system together with Cozbi, a Midianite princess. They were not just anybody!
Zealotry can be difficult to understand. Today we see fanatics rising up all over the world. Destruction for its own sake and leaders are immobilized, trying to appease them. Appeasement never works. We need to return to reality, honesty and directness. Our Free Will is a gift from the Creator, but it requires that we be responsible, and that can only come when we have the freedom to act. Today our freedom is being limited by a few radicals who are having temper tantrums. The average citizen is being punished. This is exactly what happened at the time of Pinchas. No one stood up to stop the rebels and confront them about their vile behavior. Most cities today celebrate debauchery and moral values are being squelched. Wishful thinking does nothing. We need to speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves (Proverbs 31:8-9).
We read about another plague that had struck the people of Israel because this younger generation was getting involved in debauchery with the Midianite women as Bilaam had advised King Balak to do as the only way to destroy Israel. When this plague hit, Moshe did nothing perhaps, because he himself had two children with Tziporah, a Midianite. Pinchas too had a Midianite mother so this became a family matter. When Pinchas took action and killed Zimri and Cozbi, the plague was stopped and thus he prevented the complete destruction of Israel. This is when Pinchas was given the covenant of Shalom -שָׁלוֹם בְּרִית. Was the Bore Olam going against His own Sixth Commandment, you shall not commit murder?
Does the Creator need us to defend His honor? No, He can defend Himself, however, Israel was on the path to self-destruction and her future needed to be guarded. That is why Pinchas was called upon by the Creator to bring shalom. The Bore Olam had warned Moshe that He could have easily destroyed Israel and formed another nation but at that moment they needed a leader to wake the people up. They were running around “like a chicken without its head”.
The Creator wants us to think for ourselves and not to have herd-mentality. There are times when we need to question the majority and not be afraid that we won’t be accepted or included. The closer we walk with the Creator, the less accepted we will be by the world because we have different principles and values. Pinchas did not compromise or try to be politically correct. When we are speaking about issues that the Torah tells us is WRONG, there is no compromise. We can agree to disagree but not fall into the trap of trying to be accepted. Every great empire throughout history fell due to three reasons: First: their leaders lost the respect of the people due to corruption; second: the acceptance of debauchery as a way of life, and third: their public hatred of Israel. That is exactly what is happening at this time. Our way of life is under attack.
This community is so important to me. We each have a call and can struggle with wanting to be accepted but we need to stand up for what is right. Our Creator is our covering and is always with us. Rabbi Yeshua told us not to be afraid of those who can take our physical life but be afraid of the One who can take our eternal life. Stop living in fear; shake away the fear that only makes us incapable of taking the right action. Our Creator gave us His Word in Jeremiah 1: 17 and 19 “As for you, prepare yourself for action, and arise, and speak to them all that I command you; do not fear them, otherwise I will break you before them… 19 And they shall fight against you; but they shall not prevail against you; For I am with you, says the LORD, to deliver you.’” Do you prefer to be protected by your government or by the Bore Olam?