Rabbi Milevsky's Thought of the Week: Pinchas - 5776
ZEALOTS: HANDLE WITH CARE
“Pinchas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned away My wrath from the sons of Israel while he was zealous for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy.”
We read about Pinchas with a clear understanding that he was a righteous individual, a person that is to inspire us for generations. Yet any student of Jewish history can identify several zealots who caused far more damage than good.
When we study the events that lead to the destruction of Yerushalaim in the year 70, we know from the Talmud, and from Josephus as well, that internal issues, specifically due to the zealots, brought about the Churban (destruction of the Temple).
What our tradition teaches us is that a fanatical person, who takes religious or political ideals and pursues them in an uncompromising way, can indeed be an inspiration. However even the smallest flaw in the zealot’s pursuit, where his activities are misguided or not done completely for the sake of heaven, can bring about great calamities.
By granting Pinchas the covenant of peace, Hashem declared to all that the actions of Pinchas were performed with full integrity and Leshem Shamaim-for the sake of Heaven.
May we all be inspired by Pinchas to do good with excitement and zeal.