Drash Cards for Pinchas (5771)
by Marc Mangel
• Pinchas presents us with a real problem: In his deal for God he killed people without a trial, warning, legal testimony — all in defiance of the Torah — taking the law into his own hands and yet he is rewarded. Nehama Leibowtiz calls this “coping with zeal”.
•William Feller, a famous mathematician, once said “Problems are not solved by ignoring them”
• Nehama, on Ch 25, v 12 quotes Ha’amek Davar: “The Divine promise of a covenant of peace constitutes rather a guarantee of protection against the inner enemy, lurking inside the zealous perpetrator of the sudden deed, against the inner demoralization that such an act as the killing of a human being, without due process of law is liable to cause”
• And she further quotes Naphtali Zvi Yehuda Berlin explaining that the reward of Pinchas is that God “blessed him with the attribute of peace, that he should not be quick-tempered or angry. Since, it was only natural that such a deed of Pinchas’s should leave in his heart an intense emotional unrest afterward, the Divine blessing was desinged to cope with this situation and promised peace and tranquility of soul”
• The modern Orthodox commentator David Weinberger writes “Pinchas’s zealousness is clearly not the normative behavior that we should emulate” and David Radinsky notes that Pinchas’s action was unique, one of a kind of energy only justified in the context of time and place.
• But Shlomo Caplan write “The true zealot is a student of Aaron HaCohen, who loves Klal Yisrael, advocates on behalf of Klal Yisrael and controls his emotions”
• On this portion, the Rebbe wrote that every Jew has the resources in his soul to rescue holiness from wherever it is hidden and that when one sees a Jew zealous in his service of God, even one with no claims for leadership or distinction, one should not dissuade or discourage him.