I haven’t taken any of the quizzes that I’ve seen on Facebook–you know, where “friends” ask you to find out which country or which color you are–but I have an idea for a new one. I’d like to create a quiz where you learn about our holy ancestors from the Chumash (otherwise known as the Five Books of Moses), and find out which one you are. I think I might be Pinchas, the zealot, from this week’s Torah portion of the same name.
Wait, wait, before you skewer me as a “religious extremist,” let me clarify that Pinchas “remembered the law,” (Bamidbar 25:7) before he avenged G-d’s name.
Without sharing all the gory details of what Pinchas did and why he did it, the bottom line is that it was Pinchas’s intrinsic, supra-rational love for G-d that moved him to risk his life for G-d. We see that G-d was clearly pleased with Pinchas’s actions: He immediately ended a plague that had killed 24,000 people and Pinchas himself was rewarded handsomely with the gift of priesthood for himself and his descendants.
In challenging times–it’s no coincidence that all this Biblical activity happened just as the Jewish people were about to enter the Promised Land–we see that G-d wants us to stand up for Him, to access that part of our soul’s connection to Him that supersedes intellect and understanding.
I remember exactly when I learned how we inherit the traits of our holy ancestors. Somehow I was surprised to learn that every Jew has a strain of the kindness of Avraham, the strictness of Yitzchak, and yes, the zealotry of Pinchas.
But don’t worry, my family keeps me from accessing my inner Pinchas and crossing over to the realm of being a meshugenah. That’s why I try to ask first. I hope that the details surrounding the “religious extremists” who murdered the Arab teenager are soon brought to light. The world needs to know who or what motivated them to do this, so we can all distance ourselves from what appears to be a senseless, brutal crime. But until then, it behooves all Jews not to distance ourselves from G-d because of this act; we need His protection now more than ever, especially as war in Israel appears to be likely.
History is repeating itself in front of our eyes. This very week, the Torah shows us clearly how Pinchas was unafraid to stand up for G-d at a time when nobody else did, and how his behavior on G-d’s behalf reaped huge rewards regarding our People and our Land.
Who knows what G-d will do for the Jewish people if we access our inner Pinchas and stand up for Him? There is no better time than now for each of us to do just that.