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The Systems of the Jewish Year

Parshas Pinchas 5761

By Rabbi Yaacov Haber

People who are too intense make us uncomfortable. But when you look at the great successes in life you often find zealots - people who had one cause that for them summed it all up. People that rose to the call at the necessary moment and summoned up an energy that defined their very being. The culture we live in discourages intense and extreme behavior. The culture we live in does not produce heroes because it keeps us from doing that one thing with all our hearts and with all our souls.

This week we see Pinchas really devoted to a cause. He had to stop assimilation. He had to restore modesty. He acted zealously. He was willing to risk his life for this ideal.

The lesson of Pinchas is to be able to draw energy from deep within us to do what is right at that moment, no matter what everyone around us or everyone in the world thinks.

True essence and desire is revealed at the moment of pressure. When a person doesn’t have enough time to think, he reacts. The true nature of his or her desire is revealed.

I’d like to share with you a quote of Rav A.Y. Kook.

“Pinchas is Eliyahu the prophet (Midrash).  I don’t have a source but I feel in my heart that Eliyahu Hanavi’s message to us is the following.

“Every man needs to know that he is called to serve according to his own special way of awareness and feeling, according to the root of his soul. In that world, which includes uncountable worlds, he will find the treasure of his life. Let him not be confused by contents flowing into him from external worlds, which he does not absorb properly. These worlds will find their fixing in their place, by those who are specially fit for their building and perfection. He must focus on his own inner worlds, which for him fill all and encompass all.

“This humble greatness gives joy to the man, and brings him to his highest perfection. And when he walks in this secure way of life, in his own special pathway, in his own special way of the righteous, he will be filled with power of life and spiritual gladness. And the light of God will be revealed on him; from his special letter in the Torah will come his strength and light.” (from Oros HaKodesh translated in Bat Ayin Daf)

Let’s pose a question. When was the last time you were in a meeting or in a situation where you said to yourself, “This is for me! I was created to help here! I must stand up! I know from the core of my soul that I was created for this purpose.”? It doesn’t have to be dramatic, it almost should never be hurtful, but it has to be a Torah reaction that is all your own. Pinchas didn’t ask the question and Moshe didn’t know the answer. If you have to ask yourself what to do, then what you have learned has not been intuited. You are not Pinchas.  If you know what to do then you know than you have discovered your purpose in life.

I heard (from Rabbi Shalom Brodt) a beautiful thought in the name of Rav Shlomo Freifeld.

In our daily prayers we say: “He is the Healer of the broken-hearted, and the One Who bandages their sorrows. He counts the number of the stars, to all of them He assigns names.” (Psalm 147) What is the connection between these verses?

Rav Freifeld explained as follows: Many people are broken-hearted because they feel that they and their lives are insignificant. Every person needs to feel that he/she is recognized, needed and appreciated. Even though they have light to contribute, they feel like the stars in the heavens. Each one is great, but there are so many, that most of them seemingly go unnoticed, and many are never seen.  King David’s healing message for the broken-hearted, for all who feel ignored and insignificant, is that each star counts, each star is noticed by Hashem. Not only does each one count, each one has a name, assigned to it by Hashem.

The lesson of Pinchas is to find our moment; to find our purpose; and to find our Neshama that is uniquely ours. When we achieve this lofty goal, like Pinchas, we will be blessed with the covenant of deep peace - for us and our children forever.

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