The Se­dra of the Week - Pin­chas: A Man For All Eras And All Places

The Jewish Voice - - PARSHA - (TO­RAH.ORG)

At the end of last week’s Par­sha, the pa­suk [verse] says, “And Pin­chas ben Elazar saw…” [Bamid­bar 25:7]. The Me­drash Rabba on those words asks, “and did not ev­ery­one else see the same thing as well?” The Me­drash an­swers that Pin­chas’ unique­ness was that when he saw what was hap­pen­ing, he re­mem­bered a ha­lacha: A zealot may mor­tally at­tack one who pub­licly has re­la­tions with an Aramean woman. (Ha’boel Aramis Kanain pogin bo.)

The Me­drash adds that Pin­chas met re­sis­tance from the peo­ple, who did not want him to pro­ceed with killing one of the princes of Is­rael, the leader of the Tribe of Shi­mon. Pin­chas some­how over­came the re­sis­tance of the peo­ple. Then when he ap­proached the two per­pe­tra­tors, the guards to the tent asked him: “What are you do­ing here?” He re­sponded with the am­bigu­ous com­ment: “I too came to take care of my needs,” which could mean that he too wanted to par­tic­i­pate in the same sin with the Mid­i­an­ite princess. Hear­ing this, they al­lowed him to en ter, for oth­er­wise he would never have gained ac­cess. It was then that he took the spear and stabbed them both in a way that would prove to all Is­rael that the for­bid­den act of im­moral­ity had oc­curred.

The Me­drash con­tin­ues, say­ing that Pin­chas was jeal­ous for the Name of G-d and pro­ceeds to enu­mer­ate 12 mir­a­cles that were done for him dur­ing this episode. (Among the mir­a­cles listed: The blade of his sword mirac­u­lously length­ened to be long enough to pierce both of their bod­ies at the same time; Pin­chas was given ex­cep­tional strength to lift up both the bod­ies while the two were im­paled on his spear; the han­dle of the spear was given mirac­u­lous strength not to break un­der the weight of the bod­ies.)

The se­fer Zichron Meir asks why is it im­por­tant for Chazal to em­pha­size the twelve mir­a­cles that hap­pened for Pin­chas, who ful­filled this (hope­fully rare mit­vah) of a zealot ex­e­cut­ing those en­gaged in the im­moral crime of “haBoel Aramis”? The Zichron Meir ex­plains th at the phe­nom­e­non that was demon­strated here with Pin­chas is one that is nei­ther rare nor in­ap­pli­ca­ble to our own lives or our own re­li­gious out­look.

Many times, a per­son is faced with a sit­u­a­tion where he thinks about him­self and says “I am just one in­di­vid­ual. What can I ac­com­plish? I can­not sin­gle hand­edly turn the tide and ac­com­plish any­thing by my in­di­vid­ual ac­tions.” The nor­mal at­ti­tude in such a sit­u­a­tion is “What is the use of me even try­ing? It is hu­manly im­pos­si­ble to do any­thing about it!”

The les­son of Pin­chas is that a per­son has to do what he is able to do and many times he will then merit mirac­u­lous s’yata d’Sh­maya [Help from Heaven] that will pro­vide him with the needed where­withal to do what needs to be done.

The Zichron Meir links this idea with the word “b’yado” [in his hand] in the pa­suk “And he took a spear in his hand” [Bamid­bar 25:7]. This is rem­i­nis­cent of the Me­drash Tanchuma’s de­scrip­tion of the erec­tion of the Mishkan: Moshe Ra bbeinu asked the Almighty – “How is it pos­si­ble for one per­son to raise the en­tire struc­ture?” G-d re­sponded, ac­cord­ing to the Me­drash, “oc­cupy your­self with your hand” (b’yad­cha). In other words, “You do with your own hands what you are able to do, and I will do the rest.” Chazal men­tion a sim­i­lar idea in con­nec­tion with the daugh­ter of Pharaoh stretch­ing out her hand to reach the bas­ket with the baby Moshe float­ing in the Nile. Our Sages say that she was stand­ing a great dis­tance away and that ba­si­cally the act of stretch­ing out her hand to reach the bas­ket would have been fu­tile, were it not for the fact that her arm be­came mirac­u­lously elon­gated so that it could reach the bas­ket.

The point of all these teach­ings is that a per­son must make the ef­fort to do what it is within his power to do, even though ra­tio­nally that which he can ac­com­plish by his own ac­tions will be min­i­mal, if not to­tally fu­tile. Once that ef­fort is made, he may merit mirac­u­lous Divine in­ter­vent ion.

If Pin­chas would have ra­tio­nal­ized “who am I to take it upon my­self to get in­volved here,” history would have been dif­fer­ent. (Re­mem­ber, Pin­chas at this stage of his ca­reer was not only an anony­mous “John Doe” — he was even less than that. Chazal say that peo­ple used to be­lit­tle him as the grand­son of Yisro who was an idol­ater.) Pin­chas over­came the re­sis­tance of the peo­ple who did not want him to pro­ceed; he went against the spirit of the time; it looked like it was a fu­tile ef­fort; but he did what he had to do.

The point of the Me­drash that 12 mir­a­cles were done for him is that this is ex­actly what hap­pens in life. A per­son does what he needs to do, and the Almighty pro­vides the rest. One per­son CAN make the dif­fer­ence. One per­son CAN turn the tide. One per­son who acts sin­cerely for the Sake of Heaven can merit great s’yata d’Sh­maya [Help from Heaven]. This is the story of Pin­chas. It is not just the story of one man that hap­pened thou­sands of years ago and will never again hap­pen. The story of Pin­chas is a story that can hap­pen in ev­ery com­mu­nity in any time and in any era. Pin­chas is the story of the power of one in­di­vid­ual and what one sin­cere in­di­vid­ual can ac­com­plish. The Me­drash com­ments that in the Gen­er­a­tion of the Wilder­ness, the women fixed that which the men ruined. The first ex­am­ple cited is the fact that the women did not want to give their jew­elry for cre­ation of the Golden Calf; only the men were in­ter­ested in do­nat­ing this gold to make that idol. Sim­i­larly with the Spies – the men were the ones who be­lieved the spies and did not want to go into the Land of Is­rael; the women did not fall for the slan­der. On the con­trary, they made in­de­pen­dent at­tempts to gain in­her­i­tance in the Land.

It is for this rea­son that the sec­tion of the daugh­ters of Tze­lafchad is recorded ad­ja­cent to the death of the gen­er­a­tion of the Wilder­ness. This demon­strates that they had a dif­fer­ent at­ti­tude than that of the gen­er­a­tion who had just died out when it came to the Land of Is­rael.

The point of this Me­drash is to un­der­score the con­cept of the Nashim Tzid­kaniy­ous [right­eous women]. Women have a more in­nate sense of faith (Emun ah) than do men. Men may study in Kol­lel and be­come big­ger To­rah schol­ars, but it is the women who have the in­nate sense of what is right and wrong, and who stand up for what is right.

The women did not ac­cept the neg­a­tive at­ti­tude to­ward Eretz Yis­rael. That was the pat­tern through­out the years of the Wilder­ness.

I re­cently read the fol­low­ing in­ci­dent in­volv­ing the Brisker Rav.

The les­son of Pin­chas is that a per­son has to do what he is able to do and many times he will then merit mirac­u­lous s’yata d’Sh­maya [Help from Heaven] that will pro­vide him with the needed where­withal to do what needs to be done

One year there was a move­ment in Brisk to in­tro­duce a cer­tain “mod­ern in­no­va­tion” in the High Hol­i­day ser­vice. On the High Hol­i­days, they used to have a choir in the shul in Brisk. The tra­di­tion was that the mem­bers of the choir stood in im­me­di­ate prox­im­ity to the Chazan, in a semi-cir­cle around him. The pro­posed “mod­ern in­no­va­tion” was that the mem­bers of the choir stand on a bal­cony, off to the side. The Brisker Rav felt this was an in­ap­pro­pri­ate im­i­ta­tion of “for­eign sources” (pirtza). The Brisker Rav came into the shul and saw the choir mem­bers in the bal­cony and or­dered them down. They du­ti­fully came down to the main shul. The Gabaim of the shul were up­set at hav­ing their in­no­va­tion nul­li­fied and they or­dered the choir mem­bers back to the bal­cony. The choir mem­bers du­ti­fully went back to the bal­cony.

See­ing what hap­pened, the Brisker Rav went right back up to the bal­cony and or­dered them down. The Gabaim then or­dered them back up. This went back and forth sev­eral times, un­til fi­nally the Brisker Rav turned to the women in the Ezras Nashim and pleaded with them “Holy Jew­ish women, please or­der your hus­bands down­stairs where they be­long.” The women started yelling at their hus­bands to lis­ten to the Rabbi and not the Gab­baim and the men stayed down­stairs next to the Chazan. They were more afraid of their wives than of the Brisker Rav.

We see, how­ever, that when push came to shove — to whom did the Brisker Rav turn to help en­force his rul­ing? He turned to the Nashim Tzid­kaniyus, the right­eous Jew­ish women who in­tu­itively have a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing than their male coun­ter­parts about the moral pro­pri­ety and ap­pro­pri­ate­ness of cer­tain spir­i­tual mat­ters.

It is a well known fact that if there were not a Bais Yaakov move­ment there would never have been a Kol­lel move­ment in Amer­ica. Some­one needs to take the re­spon­si­bil­ity to help a hus­band sit and learn. This is a prod­uct of the Bais Yaakov move­ment, which is both a by-prod­uct of and a pro­ducer of Nashim Tzid­kaniyus.

Never un­der­es­ti­mate the power of the Nashim Tzid­kaniyus.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.