Friday, July 6, 2007

Pinchas, Kehuna, Reb Tzadok, and Spiritual Actions

The following is based on a shiur.

There are two basic lines of interpretation of the pasuk in Parshas Pinchas (Bamidbar 25:12) " הִנְנִי נֹתֵן לוֹ אֶת-בְּרִיתִי, שָׁלוֹם." One says that because Pinchas did an act of making peace between Bnei Yisroel and the Ribbono Shel Olam, he is rewarded, mida keneged mida, with the "covenant of peace." Meaning that since Kohanim also have the duty of helping the Jewish people come closer to Hashem, they also make peace between Hashem and the Jewish people. Therefore, Pinchas, for making peace, is rewarded with the covenant of peace, Kehuna.

The other line of interpretation says that even though Pinchas' killing of Zimri and Kozbi was a mitzvah, since it involved an act of cruelty, which could affect him detrimentally by making Pinchas more cruel, he is given the Kehuna (i.e. the covenant of peace) to counteract that natural tendency whereby acts of cruelty make one more cruel.

Reb Tzadok Hakohen of Lublin teaches in Resisei Laila that when one is doing a ma'aseh Ruchani, a spiritual act, it does not have the natural physical result that one would normally expect. For instance, it is obvious that when one gives tzedaka, he becomes poorer. If you give $10,000, there is $10,000 less in your bank account. Yet since giving tzedakah is not a naturalistic act, but a ma'aseh ruchani, the Gemara in Ta'anis 9a darshens the pasuk in Devarim 14:22 עשר תעשר to mean עשר בשביל שתתעשר. When ones gives tzedakah, he not only doesn't becomes poorer, he get's more wealthy!

The Rav from whom I heard the shiur suggested that one could use this interpretation to create a synthesis of the two ways of understanding Hashem's gift of Shalom/Kehuna to Pinchas. One interpretation was that his act was an act of peace. The other side said that it was not an act of peace, even though it was a mitzva and therefore required the Kehuna as a tikun for the possible negative effect of the act on Pinchas. According to this yesod of Reb Tzadok, it is possible that since the killing of Zimri was a ma'aseh ruchani, a spiritual act, despite the fact that it would naturally lead to an internalization of the mida of achzarius, cruelty, it does exactly the opposite because of its character as a ma'aseh ruchani. Since it was a spiritual act, the killing of Zimri and Kozbi naturally had the opposite of the natural effect, i.e. that it gave Pinchas a greater level of compassion and peace. Therefore, he was rewarded mida k'neged mida with the covenant of Peace, Kehuna.

May we all merit that our physical actions be acts of ruchnius and that they always make us more ruchani people and not, cv"s, the opposite.

-Dixie Yid

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