July 2, 2021 3:38 am at 3:38 am #1988035abukspanParticipant
Pinchas – Love Peace and Chase Peace:
פינחס בן אלעזר בן אהרן הכהן
Pinchas son of Elazar son of Aharon the Kohen (Bamidbar 25:11).
We all understand that heritage has an impact on character, and certain traits are naturally inherited; the mingling of two family bloodlines can result in a mixed bag of mannerisms. It is also true that a refined person is himself an amalgam of various characteristics and behaviors, and it is up to him to orchestrate the proper coordination of the correct action at the correct time. As Shlomo HaMelech writes in Koheles (3:1): “La’kol zeman va’eis le’chol cheifetz tachas hashamayim – To everything there is a season, and there is a time for everything under the heaven.” Aharon HaKohen and his grandson Pinchas embodied this notion.
Rashi explains why the pasuk traces Pinchas’ ancestry to Aharon: The shevatim were disparaging him by saying, “Did you see the son of Puti, whose grandfather fattened calves for avodah zarah? Now he goes and kills a nasi?” Therefore, the pasuk is emphasizing that when Pinchas killed Zimri, he was following in the footsteps of his grandfather Aharon, who was known as a peace-monger.
Having the blood of Aharon the peacemaker coursing through his veins doesn’t seem to change the fact that he still appeared to be taking after his mother’s side of the family. What is gained by stressing that he was the grandson of Aharon, especially when he seemed to be acting contrary to Aharon`s loving and kind behavior?
Aharon was known as the “oheiv shalom ve’rodeif shalom oheiv es habriyos u’mekarvan laTorah – one who loved peace and pursued peace; loved people and brought them close to Torah” (Pirkei Avos 1:12). Aharon always sought to bring about reconciliation between bickering parties.
A novel interpretation from the Ksav Sofer shows us that at times true love and concern for another necessitates breaking people apart. Not making friendships but ending them. Not making peace but even making war. The Ksav Sofer (first piece in Parashas Emor) writes that while Aharon, acting as an oheiv shalom, attempted to make peace between people, he also acted as a rodeif shalom, as someone who chased away peace! That is why the mishnah in Avos does not say, “rodeif achar ha’shalom – who chased after peace,” but “rodeif shalom – who chased peace.”
As the mishnah in Sanhedrin (8:5) writes: “Dispersal of the wicked brings benefit for them and for the world, but dispersal of the righteous brings misfortune for them and for the world. Convening of the wicked brings misfortune for them and for the world, but convening of the righteous brings benefit for them and for the world.”
As much as Aharon went out of his way to promote unity, even telling the “little white lie,” this was to the righteous among the people, whose unity promotes the greater good. But for the wicked, he was just as zealous to break up their friendships and gatherings, much like a parent who will forbid his child from befriending someone whose character leaves much to be desired. Aharon’s motivation was not “world peace.” He was inspired, as the mishnah in Avos tells us, by his love of people: “oheiv es habriyos,” and his ultimate goal was “u’mekarvan laTorah – to bring them close to Torah.”
At times, he was loving and kind, using the right words to reconcile the righteous. At other times, he was loving and kind, using a hurtful word to break apart inappropriate friendships. All this from one person. Not a sign of an unbalanced character, but of a healthy one who harmonized both traits in the pursuit of true good.
This, then, could be the pshat in our parashah regarding Pinchas. Pinchas had acted with violence in the killing of Zimri and Cozbi, and the people understandably berated him. To counter this, the Torah reminds us that he was also the paternal grandson of Aharon, to whom unfriendly or even violent behavior was not inimical. Like his grandfather, Pinchas was oheiv es habriyos, one who loved people, who was interested in the spiritual and Torah life of a person. And when called for, he would demonstrate the same passion to destroy as he would to build, to make war as he would to make peace.
There is no dichotomy in either Aharon the peacemaker or Pinchas the zealot. Both are examples of the highest principle – of loving his fellow man and bringing him close to Torah.
There is a machlokes in Zevachim (101b) as to when Pinchas became a Kohen. In Parashas Pinchas, Hashem said, “Lachein emor lo hineni nosein lo es brissi shalom – Therefore, say: ‘Behold, I give him My covenant of peace’” (Bamidbar 25:12). According to Rabbi Elazar, Pinchas became a Kohen after killing Zimri and Cozbi, though Rav Ashi says that he did not become Kohen until he made peace among Bnei Yisrael. As proof, he brings a pasuk in Yehoshua (22:30), which says, “Vayishma Pinchas HaKohen… – And Pinchas the Kohen heard…” At the time, the rest of Klal Yisrael planned to wage war against the tribes of Reuven, Gad, and half of Menashe, who were on the other side of the Yardein. Pinchas succeeded in making peace between the two sides, and that was when the pasuk calls him Pinchas the Kohen.
The Gemara then asks: How can Rav Ashi say that he was not a Kohen till later? What about the pasuk quoted above from Parashas Pinchas? The Gemara answers cryptically: “That is referring to the blessing.” Tosafos explains that Hashem blessed Pinchas that he would be a Kohen. And he could have been a Kohen immediately, but first he had to be dressed with the priestly garments, anointed with the oil, and initiated in bringing the chavitin flour-offering. But perhaps there were some people among the Jews who were still upset with him because he had killed Zimri. Only once he successfully eased the tension among the shevatim in the time of Yehoshua, did he earn the trust and support of the people and become a full-fledged Kohen.
The upshot of this is that Pinchas became a Kohen in two steps, through two separate events, which necessitated contradictory actions. In the first, he slayed evil-doers, an act of one who is “rodeif shalom – chases away peace.” In the other, he brought about peace and calmed controversy among the people, an act of one who is “oheiv shalom – loves peace.”
These dissimilar roles represent the dual responsibility of a manhig. On the one hand, an effective leader must make harsh and sometimes unpopular decisions to uphold the Torah. On the other hand, the leader bears the responsibility of arbitrating between conflicting parties in an effort to maintain peace among his charges. Both roles – fighting against a Torah violation and bringing peace among the people – are indispensable to effective Torah leadership, and it is precisely this duality that made Pinchas worthy of becoming a Kohen.
This notion is borne out from a new reading of the first mishnah in Shekalim: “Be’echad ba’Adar mashmi’in al hashekalim ve’al hakilayim – On the first of Adar, they announce about bringing the machatzis hashekel and about uprooting forbidden mixtures.”
Much ink has been used to explain the connection between the machatzis hashekel and Purim. Earlier in this volume (Acharei Mos), we explained that the half-shekel teaches us that each person must realize how he cannot do it alone, but he needs the other person to complete the whole. By giving the machatzis hashekel on a yearly basis, beginning in the midbar, the Jews incorporated this facility into their very beings.
At the same time that they announce about the machatzis hashekel, however, they also announce about uprooting forbidden mixtures, kilayim. Perhaps the message is that as important as achdus is, there are times that the opposite must be implemented. In some cases, we need uprooting rather than mixing, excising the malignancy rather than allowing its growth to harm the whole.
We need Aharon and Pinchas, who both loved peace and chased peace, sowing yet also weeding in the process.July 2, 2021 10:37 am at 10:37 am #1988131Reb EliezerParticipant
According to the Chasam Sofer we fight the yetzer hara through rodef shalom, being against peace. The body and soul are constantly at odds but our job is bakesh shalom through veradfehu by creating a small conflict. Let tbe neshama do something that tthe body resists doing and then bakesh shalom, let the body get used to it and continue this process. This will bring spiritual improvements in small increments. This is the meaning of as Hashem creates peace in heavens should make peace on us, body and soul and on all Jews, Amen
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