Sunday, July 15, 2012

On Pinchas

Thomas Wolfe was wrong.  I went home again, again. Had a lovely Shabbos with dad.  I am writing this entry in dad's house on Sunday A.M.

I gave the sermon/drasha/speech on Parshat Pinchas in Shul (YIWP) in the A.M.

I opened with the story about the repeatedly finding the mistake in the Torah until it was clarified that the vav in "briti shalom" is supposed to be split, the lesson being that a peace achieved from an an act of was has to be somewhat broken.

Then I said the idea  that there is a pause between the story of Pinchas' act of zealotry and his reward.  The point of this may be that what seems to be a pious act might be impetuous - only time will tell (from Rabbi Abraham Twerski - Living Each Week).

Next, I shared the following: Why were we commanded to fight, antagonize, obliterate Midyan, while there is no such command to do the same to Egypt? An answer (from Rabbi Abraham Twerski's essay in the back of Living each Day) is that Midyan wanted to destroy us spiritually, while Mitzrayim tortured us physically.  people think that spirituality is a component of life, but the Jewish view is that spirituality is life.

Next I distilled some of the following ideas which I transcribed here from Rabbi Baruch Simon's shiur:

(On the first pasuk on Parshat Pinchas the Zohar cites "Shmah beni mussar avichah ve'al titosh Torat imechah" - "Listen my son to the reproach of your father and don't abandon the teaching of your mother." (Mishlei 1:8). The Zohar says that mussar avichah refers to Hashem and Torah imechah is Knesset Yisrael.)

The previous Satmar Rebbe (Rav Baruch Moshe) explained this. He quoted the Chasam Sofer who wrote that his whole life he was pained by the pasuk, "Veheyitem nikiyim MiHashem U'Mi'Yisrael" (Bamidbar 32:22). This is a painful pasuk because as much as G-d is merciful, people are not, and it is almost impossible to come out clean and not be judged unfavorably by some people.

Based on this idea the Chasam Sofer explained the following pasuk in a novel manner: "Ein taddik ba'aretz asher ya'aseh tov veloh yechtah" - "There is no righteous man in the world who does only good and doesn't sin" (Kohelet 7:20). In the eyes of G-d (who is perfect and merciful) there may be a man who doesn't sin, but in the eyes of people (due to their insecurities) no-one will never get off scot-free.

The Rebbe said that Pinchas accomplished the unique feat of being clean in the eyes of both Hashem and Klall Yisrael.  This is why Hashem stresses that Pinchas avenged G-d's anger in the midst of the people; not only was G-d pleased with Pinchas but even the people (in the end) found no fault in him.

Reb Tzadok (in Pri Tzaddik) notes that Divrei (Yirmiyahu), Shim'u, and Chazon (Yishayahu) are the three haftorot leading up to Tisha Be'Av. He decodes them as follows.  The first teaches that during these weeks we have to correct our errors in the realm of speech, the second teaches that we must work on how we listen and what we hear, and the third relates to seeing.

I said that these three weeks are a time of working on ourselves and dealing with the fact that we are not only in a physical exile but a spiritual one, and that we are in galus from ourselves.  We need to work on how and we we say, hear, and see, and try to achieve the holy level of Pinchas.

I ended with the story of how when G-d created the world he told all the creatures that there was a secret that he wanted man to discover but wanted man to have to look to find it.  The eagle said he's fly it to the moon but G-d said man would get there soon and find it easily.  A spear fish said he'd take it to the bottom of the ocean but Hashem said man would easily get there soon.  Finally an animal, I think it was a mole, said to hid the secret inside of man.  G-d decided that was perfect.  The secret is that the way we view life and what we do in life, how we see, hear, speak, etc. is to a large extent in our hands.


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