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 forever?
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 Torah.