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At the end of last week’s parasha, Pinchas,  the grandson of Aharon the Kohen, saw the leader of the tribe of Shimon and the daughter of the king of Midian acting promiscuously.  Pinchas took a spear in his hand, followed the Israelite man into the tent and pierced them both…and a plague that was afflicting the children of Israel at that point ended.

At the beginning of this week’s parasha, Pinchas, we read: “God spoke to Moshe saying: ‘Pinchas, the son of Elazar, the son of Aharon the Kohen turned back my anger from upon B’nai Yisrael, when he zealously avenged Me among them, so that I did not consume B’nai Yisrael with My vengeance. Therefore tell him that I give him My covenant of peace. It shall be for him and his descendents after him a covenant of eternal kehunah (priesthood) because he took vengeance for his God and he atoned for B’nai Yisrael.’”

The rabbis of the Jerusalem Talmud state that the religious leaders at the time were not happy with what Pinchas did and wanted to excommunicate him.  They did not appreciate religious extremism.  Therefore God HAD to immediately declare that Pinchas did the right thing.  The message is clear:  We are not allowed to act alone with religious zeal.

Shabbat shalom

Rabbi Paul Arberman


July 8, 2015