Judaism: Zealousness and You
פינחס בן אלעזר בן אהרן הכהן השיב את חמתי מעל בני ישראל בקנאו את קנאתי בתוכם ולא כליתי את בני ישראל בקנאתי:
"Pinchas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, has turned my anger away from the Israelites by his zealousness for my honor among them, I did not put an end to them in my zeal."
Pinchas was awarded the gift of "kehuna" (priesthood) for his voluntary act of zealousness for Hashem’s honor. Pinchas was not commanded to kill Zimri and Kozbi; he did so of his own volition when he realized the seriousness of the moment.
Human nature is such that man seeks the paths of least resistance. Comes the Torah and lays before Hashem’s chosen people an agenda which in its essence is an invitation for confrontation and a challenge to overcome it.
The gentile may eat whatever he wants (after the animal is dead). His time is never limited, no Shabbat, no holy days. He may live wherever he wishes, from the Arctic Circle to the teeming jungles of Africa, and may marry without limitation except for the nearest of kin.
Nevertheless, after all is said and done, even if spiritual and physical confrontations and challenges make it difficult to live like a Jew, it is impossible to live like a goy. I was once asked, how could the Germans and their allies perpetrate such unspeakable atrocities? And I replied, "How could they not have? It was an expression of their evil DNA".
In parashat Lech Lecha, Hashem commands Avram (Abraham) to leave his idolatry ridden home-land and journey to the west, without informing him exactly to where. At that time, Europe was an almost empty continent and Hashem could have sent Avram to establish a Jewish nation in the Riviera of southern France, or in the beautiful Alps of Switzerland. But No! Hashem stopped Avram when he reached the most crowded and most idolatrous region of the Middle East - the land which was occupied by the descendants of Cham, son of Noach - later to become Eretz Yisrael.
For it was here in the "lion’s den" of paganism that Hashem wanted Abraham and his children after him to confront and challenge the non-monotheistic beliefs of the nations. It was a challenge which could not be accomplished from afar by remote control. It demanded painstaking patience and even danger to life, because to confront the ideological basis of idolatry meant to defy the established governmental and social fabric of these people.
Yitzchak (Isaac), Avraham’s spiritual and material heir continued to fulfill Hashem’s directive to challenge the atheistic beliefs and traditions of the Canaanites. And this was despite opposition from within his own family from the direction of his untamed (pereh adam) half-brother, Yishmael.
Yitzchak’s son, Ya’akov (Jacob) , completed the holy troika of Avot (forefathers) when he stood the challenges of living in the house of Lavan and establishing the basis of our nation through his twelve sons, the leaders of the Jewish tribes.
If one was to summarize in one word the lessons we can glean from the lives and activities of our Avot it would be - confrontation.
In every generation, our people have had to confront challenges not only to our beliefs but also to our right to life. We have succeeded in overcoming these unprecedented obstacles only through our unbreakable attachment to Hashem in belief and deeds of heroism.
The Jewish nation is now being confronted with the greatest challenges in our history. There is the unstoppable divestment in Judaism by our people in the galut who marry non-Jews, as if they were God’s gift to the Jewish people.
Anti-Semitism is rapidly expanding in Europe, and like a deadly virus it cannot be contained. It will erupt anywhere in the world where there is economic stagnation and social frustration.
But the most dramatic and challenging events are occurring now in and around Eretz Yisrael.
We have become the pivotal fulcrum of world events. Islamic fundamentalism wedded with the Arabs’ murderous nature have declared war on us all with their intended goal of creating a world-wide caliphate. This together with the presence of so many Arabs within the borders of the State are a huge drain on our resources, both human and material.
Am Yisrael, the Jewish People, is now at war in Gaza, because the object of the enemy’s hate is not the Israeli but the Jewish people wherever they are.
Now is the time for every young Jew in the world in whose veins flows the blood of Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya’akov, to stop for a moment to consider his and her responsibilities.
the State of Israel as the first breakthrough of dawn of our redemption needs more and more dedicated people.
Your scholarship to Harvard will not gain you points in Olam Haba; what you do and sacrifice for Hashem’s chosen people in His Holy Land will.
Tzahal needs more soldiers. The police who have to contain potential internal uprisings are in need of manpower.
Pinchas the man, became a model for future generations to take the extra step and volunteer where the needs are great.
Dear young Jews, Leave the spiritual hollowness of the galut (exile). Come home to the State of Israel where by the Law of Return you can immediately become a citizen. Volunteer for any of the many services the State is in need of.
Pinchas did not request payment or any reward for his voluntary courageous act. But Hashem granted him what no man after him received - to become a Kohen after not being born one. Hashem’s rewards are the most guaranteed entities in the universe.
The State of Israel will always be there to save you when you will be in need. So when the State needs the too few "connected" Jews in the world, no one has a justifiable right to refuse.
May Hashem bless the courageous soldiers of Tzahal as they do battle to sanctify His holy name against those who would eradicate the name of Yisrael.
Rabbi Nachman Kahana is an Orthodox Rabbinic Scholar, Rav of Chazon Yechezkel Synagogue – Young Israel of the Old City of Jerusalem, Founder and Director of the Center for Kohanim, and Author of the 15-volume “Mei Menuchot” series on Tosefot, and 3-volume “With All Your Might: The Torah of Eretz Yisrael in the Weekly Parashah”, as well as weekly parasha commentary available where he blogs at http://NachmanKahana.com