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Parashat Pinchas - 5774

My friends,

What words of Torah can I share with you when our people in Israel are in the midst of war? They live in fear of the rockets that keep raining on them, fired by a cruel and inhuman enemy. Children, who should be enjoying their summer vacation in camps, on the beach or with friends, are kept at home, never far from the bomb shelter or the safe room.

This week's Parasha begins with the conclusion of last week's incident which caused the death of 24,000 Israelites. You will recall how the King of Moab, at the advice of Balaam sent Moabite and Midianite girls to seduce Israeli men into immoral acts and the worshipping of idols, in order to anger G-d against the Israelites. Zimri the son of Salu, a leader of the tribe of Shimon, brought a girl by the name of Kozbi, daughter of a leader of the Midianites, into his tent, and by the opening of the tent, had an immoral act in front of all the people. A plague broke out and 24,000 men died. Pinchas, the son of Eleazar the son of Aaron, took a spear and killed the man and the woman.

This week's Parasha begins with G-d praising Pinchas for his violent act and promising him the covenant of peace and the position of Priesthood. Many commentators struggle to explain how an act of violence resulting in the death of two people can be praised and the perpetrator be given the title of Covenant of Peace and becoming the Kohen, the Priest, who is supposed to represent peace and be a role model for peace.

In view of what is happening in Israel today, I have no difficulty with Pinchas' action. He was credited for ending the plague. His violent act brought peace to the community. Israel said "Enough is enough" with the constant barrage of rockets and missiles fired at Israeli towns and cities. They are responding to violence with violence in order to bring peace to Israel's citizens. The U.S. and other powers are pressuring Israel to halt its attacks on Gaza. That will not bring peace - it will just give Hamas more time to accumulate more rockets and missiles for the next war. Israel will do what they see fit to end the continued rain of rockets.

We hope and pray that Israel's actions will make it clear and maybe convince Israel's enemies that peace is a better choice, and they should return to the negotiating table.

May He who makes peace in His universe, bring peace to us and to all His people Israel - Amen.

Shabbat Shalom,

Avram