Thursday, July 12, 2012

On Parshat Pinchus

This post should be a z'chut to my grandmother's, Yulia bat Berta's speedy recovery and was inspired largely by Rabbi Yitzchok Snyder's d'var Torah today.

People, sometimes those from our own communities, may sometimes lead us astray. This sounds like an oversimplified axiom, right!? It is, but it's also one to reflect upon. How many times have you seen things taking place right under your nose that you thought were simply outrageous? How many times have you witnessed fellow Jews performing public acts of hillul Hashem--the defamation of G-d's name?

This week's parsha's first Rashi evokes a situation in which while G-d approves of the actions of Pinchus, the Jewish community does not. I'd assume some members of the community did, in fact, approve of Pinchus' slaying the Jewish tribal chief, Zimri and the Midianite princess, Kosbi who were openly fornicating in the Israelite camp, but from the simple pshat, it seems that the majority were strongly opposed to it. Why else would the Text list Pinchus' lineage dating back to Aharon the Priest, known for his ability to settle family feuds and instill ahavat Yisrael, the love for the Jewish people amongst his nation in the opening verse of the parsha?

Both Rashi and Nachmonides stress the fact that Pinchus' zealotry was the one factor that saved the Jewish people from G-d's wrath after they'd sinned with the Midianite women and after thousands of them had already been doomed to death. Nevertheless, the majority of our people were strongly opposed to Pinchus' actions, deeming them innaprorpriate in light of his lineage. They correctly believed Pinchus' maternal grandmother had been an idol worshipper and were up in arms because Zimri, the Jew he'd slayed was a tribal prince. Thus Rashi explains the verse's review of Pinchus' lineage.

We can learn a very important lesson from all this. Just because a majority of people, be they Jews or Gentiles, believe in an ideology, this doesn't, by any means, make this ideology true in the eyes of G-d. We can believe in the underlying themes of the French Revolution: equality and brotherhood, but while these are beautiful ideas, they haven't passed the litmus test of history. Millions, perhaps billions of people have been murdered in cold blood as a direct result of the French Revolution, the October Revolution, the spread of Socialism and the erosion of the Torah way of life.

We can blame Haredim for "picking" on women, for not paying taxes, or not serving in the army, but at the end of the day, they're in large part responsible for carrying on Jewish tradition. We can blame the Zionist establishment for enroaching on the human rights of illegal aliens and Arabs, but the Zionist establishment is largely a halachic entity that cares about sanctifying the Name of G-d and performing good deeds.

Point is, we have to be very careful what positions we take. We need to try to fashion ourselves in accordance with what G-d wants of us--not with what mere mortals would have us believe.

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