Parashat Pinhas-Spare the Spear
11. Pinhas the son of Eleazar the son of Aharon the Kohen has turned My anger away from Benei Yisrael by his zealously avenging Me among them, so that I did not destroy Benei Yisrael because of My zeal.
יא. פִּינְחָס בֶּן אֶלְעָזָר בֶּן אַהֲרֹן הַכֹּהֵן הֵשִׁיב אֶת חֲמָתִי מֵעַל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּקַנְאוֹ אֶת קִנְאָתִי בְּתוֹכָם וְלֹא כִלִּיתִי אֶת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּקִנְאָתִי:
יב. לָכֵן אֱמֹר הִנְנִי נֹתֵן לוֹ אֶת בְּרִיתִי שָׁלוֹם:
This week we're getting straight to the point. Pinhas gets a whole Parashah in the Torah HaKedoshah named after him when he murders Cozbi and Zimri as they are involved in a forbidden relationship in front of the entire Benei Yisrael. Cozbi is a Midianit princess and Zimri is a Prince from Shevet Shimon, and here 1+1=0, so Pinhas, in his zealousy for HaKadosh Barukh Hu takes a spear ( רמח-romah) and pierces them both in one sweep of the arm.
Umm, Pinhas just MURDERED two people in front of the entire Kelal Yisrael. Meanwhile, what does HaShem give him in return? Because of this act, Pinhas and all his descendants to come are zokhim to a lineage of Kehuna. Not only that, HaShem personally guarantees Pinhas a Berit Shalom, a covenant of Peace with Him. This is the reward of a killer?
In the Torah HaKedoshah, there is a concept of Midah Keneged Midah- Measure for Measure. What you do gets done to you. Simple. If Pinhas kills two people, then isn't he deserving to be killed....twice? He did something so violent, and in return he gets an eternal covenant for Peace? Not only is he not killed, he never passes away!
Let's look at the rest of the Parashah and maybe we can find an underlying theme that can direct us to the answer to our question.
Five sisters come to Moshe Rabbenu and tell him, Moshe Rabbenu, we are almost approaching Eress Yisrael. Our father, Selaphehad, was killed due to his sin. He bore no sons and therefore has no inheritors. His property belongs to his children, can we inherit it even though we are girls?? These were the daughters of Selaphehad. They didn't sit around passively in the hopes that they might acquire their father’s legacy. They got up and fought for it! They were so justified in doing so that we find the halakhot of inheritance explained to us right in the middle of this story. Even their names imply activity and movement. One was named Mahlah, which means to dance and sing; another was named No’a, which means to move; another sister was named Milkah, which means to walk; the fourth was named Hoglah means to dance and the last was named Tirssah, meaning to run. These ladies were moving up and about!
Then we see another encounter where Moshe Rabbenu is being told that he is not permitted to enter the land of Eress Yisrael. Does Moshe Rabbenu just sit there and say, Okay HaShem, I guess that's it, I'll just wait around and find something to do in the desert. No! He pleas and pleas. He is active about it. He asks HaKadosh Barukh Hu of he could enter Eress Yisrael over and over again. It gets to a point where he davens 515 times to enter this land, and HaShem tells him, Enough! If you say even one more Tefillah, I'm going to have to let you in, and you know very well that I will not allow this. But at least what does he get? HaKadosh Barukh Hu allows Moshe Rabbenu to get a glimpse of the entire Eress Yisrael from atop a mountain. Not bad, huh?
It happens again in the Parashah. Since Moshe Rabbenu was not able to enter Eress Yisrael, a new leader had to be chosen to guide Benei Yisrael throughout. This leader would be none other than Yehoshua bin Nuun. How is he coronated? Moshe Rabbenu takes both his hands and 'transfers' the leadership to Yehoshua. They could have just waited until Moshe Rabbenu was niftar and then Yehoshua would automatically, passively, become the new leader. But it didn't work this way! The leadership was given to him in an active process. Otherwise, would we be sure that he is the leader?
The same happens with Pinhas. Pinhas is a man of Shalom and is therefore deserving of Shalom. After all, his grandfather was Aharon HaKohen, who was Ohev Shalom (loves Peace) veRodef Shalom (and seeks Peace). If Pinhas wouldn't actively show that he was a peaceful man, would we know such a thing about him? By killing Cozbi and Zimri, he was actually bringing peace. It was this act that stopped a massive plague which took the lives of 24,000 people. It was this act that opened up the eyes of Benei Yisrael to stop these horrendous averot. When Pinhas stabbed the two with his רמח , his spear, this was in reality an act of mercy, he was רחמ , merciful (switch the letters of רמח around).
If Pinhas had to kill these two wrongdoers to bring Shalom, so be it. Standing around didn't help. To stop a sin of such magnitude, it was necessary to do something equally extreme.
We as Kelal Yisrael must actively bring Shalom, Peace. Waiting around won't do anything. Just because we are inactive, just because we don't argue, doesn't mean we are making peace. We're just lucky enough not to cross the path of conflict. Me? Argue? Never! I'm the calmest person I know! You could achieve that by just locking yourself in your room for a week straight; it doesn't mean you achieved anything. Just because we are nice to people who are already nice, doesn't mean we are peace seekers. They're going to be nice to you anyways, what did you achieve here? Nothing really. Its davka when you're able to be nice with someone cruel that you're seeking peace.
Of course everybody loves peace, that's Ohev Shalom. But how many of us can say that we are Ohev Shalom? How many of us actually go and seek peace?
If we are not making peace, we're ruining it. If we are not moving upwards, we are moving downwards; there is no staying on one place. Rav Yisrael Slananter says that we are like birds. We can soar; but only by flapping our wings. Should we stop, we begin to descend. Keep on flapping!
And it's not only about Peace. In every realm of life we must be active and not passive. We have to be active about being active! Not everything will just come to us, we have to constantly seek what is right. With a little bit of Tefillah, and a lot of Siyata diShemaya (Heavenly Help), you will get to what you seek, if it is HaShem's will of course.
Be'Ezrat HaShem Yitbarakh, may we all become active seekers of Shalom and may we always be moving upward. We should understand that just because things happen to be peaceful around us, it does not necessarily mean that we are peaceful people. This is an active process on our part! Be'Ezrat HaShem may we be massliah with this and may we always be busy with good things!
Next time you have a spear in your hand, spare it. Don’t hold a רמח , be a רחמ. If you have an opportunity to make Shalom, seize it!
Wishing everyone a Shabbat SHALOM uMevorakh! (no pun intended ;D)