Parashas Pinchas

This week’s parashah begins with an account of how Pinchas, as reward for taking vengeance upon Zimri and Cozbi, was granted a “covenant of peace.” The Maggid asks why Pinchas received such a reward while Moshe did not. He points out that Moshe saved the Jewish People from Hashem’s wrath many times, such as after the sin of the golden calf and the sin of the spies, yet he was not rewarded with a “covenant of peace.”
The Maggid answers, in his usual way, with a parable. A man owed debts to many people, and he was constantly hounded by his creditors. Each time the creditors would descend upon him, some friends of his would come to his defense and get the creditors to leave him alone. But after a time, the creditors would come back. This cycle continued for some time. Finally, one of the friends made a compromise with the creditors. The friend agreed to pay each creditor a percentage of the debt, and the creditors agreed to hand over the promissory notes and reliquish their claim on the remaining balance. The friend paid as agreed, took all the promissory notes, and tore them up.
This is the difference between Moshe and Pinchas. After the sin of the golden calf, the Attribute of Justice descended upon the Jewish People to demand retribution. Moshe’s plea led the Attribute of Justice to let up, but the debt remained and the claim would eventually be renewed. Indeed, in the aftermath of the sin, Hashem told Moshe (Shemos 32:34): “On the day that I make My account, I shall bring their sin to account against them.” [The Gemara, in Sanhedrin 102a, says that every punishment that Hashem imposes upon the Jewish People includes a smidgen of retribution for the sin of the golden calf.] It was similar with the sin of the spies. Pinchas, however, with his act of vengenance against the display of wantonness that he witnessed, disposed of the claim against the Jewish People for this sin entirely. It is for this accomplishment that he merited the “covenant of peace.”
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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