web analytics
February 1, 2015 / 12 Shevat, 5775
 
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Home » Judaism » Parsha »

Through The Eyes Of History


The-Shmuz

Pinchas, the son of Elazar, the son of Aharon HaKohen, appeased My anger against Bnei Yisrael by taking My revenge amidst them, and so I didn’t have to destroy them with My vengeance.” – Bamidbar 25:11

 

Parshas Balak ends with the daughters of Moav enticing the young Jewish men to sin. This quickly led to idol worship, and many Jewish men served Baal Peor.

At the height of the debacle, Zimri, one of the heads of shevet Shimon, took a Moabite princess and brought her into the encampment of the Jews, making a public spectacle of the act. Because he was a leader of the Jewish people, this was a grave threat to the survival of the nation. A plague broke out and thousands of Jews died.

Pinchas saw what was happening and ran to Moshe for advice. Moshe directed him to take action. At the risk of his life and against all odds, Pinchas walked into the mob and miraculously killed both Zimri and the Moabite woman. No sooner did their dead bodies hit the floor than the plague stopped. It was a clear and obvious sign that Pinchas had acted correctly. By acting with courage and alacrity, he saved the Jews from destruction. Clearly, he was a hero.

Yet the very next parshah, Pinchas, opens with a pasuk repeating his lineage: “Pinchas, the son of Elazar, the son of Aharon.” Rashi explains that the Torah delineates his ancestry because he was the subject of derision. The other shvatim mocked him: “Did you see this son of idol worshipers? His mother’s father fattened calves to serve to idols, and he has the audacity to kill the head of a shevet!” The Torah therefore repeats that he was a direct descendent of Aharon to let us know he was justified in what he did.

This Rashi is difficult to understand as it implies that people looked at what Pinchas did and assumed he was wrong. Yet he had direct orders from Moshe Rabbeinu. Many miracles happened to allow him to succeed, and a plague that killed 24,000 people stopped only when he finally killed Zimri. How is that possible that anyone could see Pinchas as anything other than a hero?

The answer to this question is that there are often two distinct perspectives of an event: the perspective from living in the moment, and the perspective of history. While the episode is playing out, it is often difficult to identify the real issues and motives being challenged. Changes are happening too quickly, things are moving at too feverish a pace, and clarity is elusive. After the fact, when the dust settles and some time has passed, what transpired is often viewed from a different focus, and what was then obscure is now obvious.

When we look back at events in history, all is clear and evident. The heroes stand out wearing shining armor, the villains appear in black garb, and everyone fits nicely into his particular camp. But to those living at the time, it wasn’t that neat and clean. The good guys didn’t appear as all white, and the bad guys didn’t appear as all black. It was somewhere in between.

Understanding the Criticism of Pinchas

To the people living during the time of Pinchas, there was justification for what Zimri did. The rationale might well have been that by bringing the Moabite woman into the Jewish camp, she wouldn’t pull the Jewish men away to serve idols. But whatever the logic, there were arguments for and arguments against. The point was that a great man – the head of a shevet – did this act, and it wasn’t at all clear he was wrong. It is only now after the fact, when we have the perspective of history, that we can see the test and the temptation with absolute clarity.

About the Author: Rabbi Shafier is the founder of the Shmuz.com – The Shmuz is an engaging, motivating shiur that deals with real life issues. All of the Shmuzin are available free of charge at the www.theShmuz.com or on the Shmuz App for iphone or Android.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Through The Eyes Of History”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Handout photo of texted message sent by a fearful Christopher Cramer from Saudi Arabia before his death.
Saudis Hold Body of U.S. Elbit Subcontractor After Mysterious Death in Tabuk
Latest Judaism Stories
Staum-013015

People often think that all they are missing is “just a little more” and then they can be truly happy.

Torah-Hakehillah-121914

The Midrash is teaching a fundamental message of what it means to be a religious person.

Rabbi Sacks

Torah opposes slavery; G-d desires the free worship of free human beings, yet slavery’s permitted-?!

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

France allowed Islamists to flourish despite their loyalty to Islamic sharia law not French values

Approximately 18 years ago, my uncle called me into his office saying he had an urgent matter to discuss. I didn’t know what he had in mind.

“Where is God?” asked the Kotzker Rebbe “God is not everywhere but only where you let Him enter”

An Explosion In The Trench
‘With A Glowing Hot Knife’
(Yevamos 120b)

Her first tactic was tefillah; she immediately began to recite one perek after another of Tehillim.

When a miracle occurs that transcends nature, Hashem has broken the laws of nature to create the miracle.

“How could you have expected my glasses to be there?” argued Mr. Weiss. “You shouldn’t have to pay.”

Rather than submit to this fate and suffer torture and humiliation, Shaul decided to fall on his sword.

How can the Da’as Zekeinim say this was Hashem’s plan to allow them to become the Torah Nation? We know it was actually a punishment.

A strange midrash of fruit trees surrounding the Nation of Israel as they walked to freedom

Leading by example must be visible, regarding where, when and how-like Nachshon entering the Red Sea

Rabbi Yaakov Nagen, a Ram at Yeshivat Otniel, notes that the verse is suggesting that retelling the story of the Exodus is so important that Hashem is performing ever-greater miracles specifically so that parents can tell their stories to future generations.

More Articles from Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier
The-Shmuz

How can the Da’as Zekeinim say this was Hashem’s plan to allow them to become the Torah Nation? We know it was actually a punishment.

The-Shmuz

How is it possible that the clothing was more valuable to them than gold or silver?

It is exactly like that of an animal, with all of the passions and desires necessary to drive man though his daily existence.

How did their hatred toward the Jews make their own lives disgusting? It’s the Jews they hated, not themselves.

When Hashem made man, He created two worlds – this world and the World to Come. Each has its purpose.

Because we see these events as world changing, as moments in history, they become part of us forever.

Our right to exist and our form of self-government were decided by the ruling parties.

If Hashem is watching tzaddikim, why couldn’t He just save Yosef from all the suffering he was about to endure?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/through-the-eyes-of-history-2/2014/07/03/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: