The comments of Rabbi Dovid Shteiman on Parshat Pinchas

Torah begins the weekly portion Pinchas with a statement that Pinchas was the grandson of Aharon haKohen. Rav Shlomo Itzchaki explains that the tribes tried to put Pinchas down because he was the grandson of Isro, father-in-law of Moshe Rabbeinu. All his life, until he came to the Jews in the desert and converted to Judaism, Isro worshipped idols. That’s why Pinchas was able to kill Zimri and Kosbi without any pity, since idol worship was in his blood. In order to prove the opposite, Torah writes that he was the grandson of Aharon haKohen.

Why did people want to offend Pinchas, although he saved the nation from horrible plague? What does idol worship have to do with his act of killing Zimri and Kosbi? And how can the Torah’s statement that Pinchas was the grandson of Aharon serve as the answer to contentions?

Let’s try to understand with the help of the following story:

While being on his deathbed, elderly father called his young son to give him last words of wisdom:

- My son, I want to give you the formula for long life, - said the father.

- I am listening, father, - replied the son with tears in his eyes.

- Remember, my son, to never let anger rule your actions until the night passes, - counseled his father. With that, his eyes closed, and his soul went up to his Maker.

The son didn’t understand what exactly his father meant, but nevertheless put his words on his heart.

Some years passed. Young man married. Soon they were expecting their first child. However, food was hard to come by, and he decided to go to distant lands in search of livelihood, promising to send money and packages of food.

Fifteen years passed. The man managed to collect a small fortune and was returning

home. Late at night, he came to the window of his house and heard that his wife was talking to someone. He listened closely – it was obviously a man’s voice. Rage overcame him, and he was ready to take out his knife and kill the adulterer. Suddenly a vision of deceased father appeared before his eyes, and he heard the admonition, “My son, remember to never let the anger rule your actions until the night passes”. He put away his knife and waited till the morning.

In the morning he realized that the strange man was his own son, who already became a young man after all these years. This way the old father’s formula saved lives.

Jewish tribes wanted to use the opportunity to justify their own sin of idol worship, which they committed 40 years ago – the sin of the Golden Calf. Our sages teach us that when a person gets angry, it is as if he worships idols. Jews said that since Pinchas was the grandson of idol worshipper Isro, it was the reason for his anger at Zimri. Jews wanted to show that they, too, gave in to idol worship because they were angry at Moshe Rabbeinu for not returning when he promised.

However, Torah openly states that Pinchas was the grandson of Aharon Akohen, the one who tried to prevent Jews from sinning with the calf. He loved peace, not evil. Rashi explains that Pinchas wasn’t overcome by anger, but acted with full consciousness and only defended G-d’s Honor.

We see how important it is for a person to be careful not to get angry and lose coolness of mind. The difference between one in control of his emotions and one who can’t managed them, is the difference between keeping the Covenant of Peace and worshipping the Golden Calf. This formula for long life for all of us.

Source: Ohr HaTorah