by Rabbi Chaim Dovid Green
In this week's parsha we learn of the zealous deeds of one of the members
of the tribe of Levy by the name of Pinchas, a grandson of Aaron the
Kohein. How was it that Pinchas merited to have this week's Torah portion
named for him and to be elevated to the priesthood, he and his generations
The nation of Israel, after forty years of wandering and wondering were
finally allowed to begin conquering the land they had so looked forward to
inheriting. At that time the future of the nation which was on the brink
of a beautiful dawn almost set at mid-day.
Pinchas saw the men of his nation being tempted by the women of Midian to
sin by serving the idol called Baal Peor. In one fell swoop he put an end
to the whole affair in the name of Heaven. The collective sinning ceased.
The Torah tells us that the wrath of G-d was turned away. Pinchas needed to
be strong for as we know, when a large group of people revels in
destructive behavior and invests their time, effort, and money towards
making it acceptable, being the voice of reason can literally and
figuratively get you your head handed to you on a silver platter.
Pinchas acted when it was most needed that he do so. The chance to turn
the tide and bring everyone back to their senses was in his hands. He was
keenly aware that if another moment would have transpired with nothing done
about the horrible situation at hand, all would have been lost. Either
they would triumph or they would trip into oblivion. After all the Divine
guidance and all the years of waiting, to see his nation disappear through
assimilation into the Midianite culture was too much for Pinchas.
Continuity as a holy nation remained intact all because of the action of
one person at the right time.
Rabbi Israel Flam, one of the Deans of the Yeshiva of Spring Valley in
Monsey New York made a very significant point in a dvar Torah he wrote this
year for the parent body of his school. It was based on the saying of our
Sages that "One who acts with alacrity merits to perform (many) mitzvos".
Rabbi Flam pointed out that running at the last second to leave only _just_
enough time to squeak through on a commandment isn't what was meant when
the Sages described a person who acts with alacrity. It is not the ideal to
wake up at the last second and rush like a fool to grab the only moment
left to do a mitzvah but rather to take the necessary amount of time,
proceed carefully, and then see it through to fruition.
Pinchas was no hothead, who was rewarded for acting in a rash manner
without stopping to think. His was the kind of zealousness honored by the
Torah. He came, he saw, he acted but not over a split second of anger or
spite but with a heart and mind set to achieve the honor of Heaven. Only a
well honed heart and mind worked on with much prior thought and effort can
achieve split second results accurately and effectively. There is no
better tool with which we can hone our hearts and minds to be best prepared
for the moments in which we need to act with alacrity than Torah study.
Just do it!
We would like to thank Mrs. Miriam Green for contributing this week's dvar
Text Copyright © 1999 Rabbi Dovid Green and
Project Genesis, Inc.