“Each of our acts makes a statement as to our purpose.” -Leo Buscaglia
It is one of the more violently graphic scenes in the Torah. Pinchas, grandson of Aaron the High Priest, takes a spear and in one blow kills a prince of Israel as well as a Moabite princess as they are being publicly intimate. The scene of this gruesome double murder is in front of the otherwise unresponsive leadership of Israel.
This fierce act is credited with stopping a sudden plague that killed 24,000 people in Israel for the sin of illicit relations. In what is perhaps the most surprising and ironic outcome of Pinchas’ vigilantism is that God bestows Pinchas with a “Covenant of Peace” and includes him in the prestigious caste of the Priesthood (to be a Kohen).
The Netziv on Numbers 25:13 explains that Pinchas’ reward is a natural outcome of his act. What Pinchas was in essence doing when he killed the overly affectionate lovers was protecting the Jewish people from a virulent licentiousness that had reached so far and with such fervor that a prince of Israel was ready to perform such an act publicly in front of the leaders of the nation. Pinchas stops the decadence dead in its tracks (literally).
For taking such a principled stand and for being ready to protect the nation of Israel from such immorality Pinchas is rewarded with the charge of continuing to protect the Jewish people. That was the classical task of the Kohen; to educate the nation of Israel as to God’s laws and traditions, to serve as role models of service of God and to thereby protect the Jewish people from the danger and damage of immorality.
May we each have the good fortune of finding our purposes and the reward of being able to fulfill that purpose.
To the many and varied protectors of Israel and to our son Eitan who joined their forces this week.