Gleaned from the Sfas Emes

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Parshas Pinchas

Why Pinchas?

Pinchas slays a prince of the tribe of Shimon and a Midianite princess, for immorality. Though he wasn't annointed with priesthood when his brothers were, his reward is priesthood...

"Pinchas son of Elazer son of Aharon haKohan has assuaged My wrath from the Children of Israel, with his zeal for My sake, in their midst." (25:11)

Rashi explains that the reason for repeating Pinchas' lineage, already recorded in verse 7, was to stress his paternal line (Aharon), thus silencing those tribesmen who belittled Pinchas, and mocked, "Did you see what the son of an idol-worshiper (his maternal grandfather) did to a tribal prince of Israel"?

Are we to assume that the tribes condoned an immoral act, and mocked Pinchas for upholding Torah values?

Some people influence others by their deeds. For example, the service of Aharon Kohan Gadol in the Bais haMikdash, inspired people - especially on Yom Kippur. (See Rashi, Vayikra, 16:34). Other people influence not by what they do, but by what they are. Such was Pinchas. His zeal was contagious; many among Am Yisroel acquired this quality from him

This is implied by the words"He has assuaged my wrath... with his zeal for My sake, ‘in their midst’". Pinchas inspired zeal in the midst of Israel, and thus the wrath of G-d was assuaged.

People wondered why Pinchas, the grandson of an idol-worshiper, was chosen (by Moshe - Rashi, 25:7) to avenge G-d's honor. There were many others, equally zealous, and without such a 'blemish' in their lineage. What these people did not realize was that the zeal of those others had been inspired by that of Pinchas. To underline this, the verse states: "Pinchas son of Elazer son of ‘Aharon’ has assuaged my wrath." Just as Aharon's service as Kohan Gadol brought blessing and inspired ever more spirituality, so the zeal of Pinchas inspired zeal in Am Yisroel

This also explains why Pinchas was rewarded with becoming a kohan. Since his greatness inspired others, he was made a kohan - a position which inspires others. (Sfas Emes, Pinchas 5642)

Great people inspire others, just by their being seen.

A person once asked his friend, a chassid, why chassidim push and jostle so much, just to catch a glimpse of their Rebbe.

"When they see him, they become spiritually inspired." came the explanation.

"But where is the decorum? What about dignity?" the person persisted.

"Tell me," retorted the chassid, "did you ever think to ask this question of yourself when you cheer on your favorite baseball stars?"

“Gleaned From the Sfas Emes” - excerpts adapted from a soon to published book, G-d Willing, by Simcha Leib Grossbard.Rabbi Grossbard is author of “The Sfas Emes Haggadah” (Targum Press) and “Kasheleg Yalbinu”, a two volume (Hebrew) work based on Sfas Emes.

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