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Parshat Pinchas a story in parts

PINCHAS

The generally used division of chapters in the Torah is not based on the Jewish tradition which has a different system of division of the Torah according to content. Bamidbar (Numbers) 25 is the beginning of the chapter division and the Jewish traditional division introducing the story of the infidelity of the Israelite men with the daughters of Midian and the killing of the Israelite prince Kozbi and the Midianite Princess by Pinchas, in an act of zealotry

 

 The first nine verses in Parshat Pinchas (Bamidbar 25:10-18) continue the story which began in the end of Parshat Balak when Pinchas took a spear and killed Zimri and Kozbi. In this week’s part of the story, Hashem announces that Pinchas has taken away His anger when he acted as a zealot (kanai) and that therefore the Almighty will make a covenant of peace with Pinchas.

 

The obvious question is – why this segment of the Parshah was not included in the end of Parshat Balak so as to complete that story!

 

We are taught that gaps in the Torah are indications that one must take time to reflect on what occurs.  Accordingly, the unexpected gap in the story must also come to teach us to reflect on the story. A person who acts as a kanai must be examined to see if his actions were proper. There are some people who act because they truly wish to glorify Hashem’s name. However, there are often times when others act on impulse because they are hot-headed and like a fight, or perhaps they have another agenda, political or otherwise. To verify whether  To examine  whether a person who acted as a kanai really did so  for Heaven’s sake (l’shem shamayim), one must step back and view all the circumstances before drawing conclusions.   Only in this way can a person evaluate whether someone acted truly out of a desire to glorify Hashem.

Indeed, Pinchas did not act on impulse. The reason for the unusual gap in the telling of the story is to emphasize this point and to tell us how to judge all acts of zealotry.

The Torah recites (Bamidbar 7:25) that Pinchas took a spear in his hand. In the following verse there is a description of what he did to Zimri and Kozbi.  Pinchas was not walking around with a spear looking to use it to keep other people in line. Indeed, Pinchas was a grandson of Aaron who was a lover of peace. Therefore he needed to first pick up the spear and then to reflect well….

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