Pinchas: Family and Continuity

Forge the links in the chain of continuity.

Aloh Naaleh,

Arutz 7
The opening verses of this week's parasha present a somewhat dichotomous and enigmatic description of Pinchas. The Torah describes him as having "zealously" avenged God's honor and then immediately blesses him with a covenant of everlasting priesthood. Of course, Pinchas was neither a reactionary who unleashed his uncontrollable anger, nor a religious maniac whose lack of discipline provoked him to murder. But wouldn’t Moshe, the ultimate lawgiver, or Aharon, the paradigmatic peacemaker, have been more appropriate choices for the honor of eternal priesthood?

I once saw an insight offered by Rabbi Moshe Swift,, that the blessing of continuity - uninterrupted service of God - is a product neither of service in the Mikdash nor study in the Beit Midrash. While these do contribute to future development, they do not actually forge the links in the chain of continuity.

Pinchas was aware of Bilaam’s subterfuge. Bilaam understood that in order to destroy the Jew, he must focus on the home. A home that is spiritually destroyed has a lasting effect on those who live there. A home that is religiously burned is one in which children are raised ignorant of their noble heritage. This is a home that will not produce everlasting Jewish offspring.

Pinchas recognized that the immorality promoted by Bilaam was unique and that its punishment would not be
This incursion into the fiber of Jewish family life is a sin.
meted out in a court of law. This sin, this type of immorality, is so foreign to Jewish family life that its punishment could only be carried out by a zealot - not someone who is an extremist, but rather one who is totally devoted to God, one who realizes that this incursion into the fiber of Jewish family life is a sin not against Man or the community, but rather against God. Pinchas was "jealous" for God's sake. Pinchas fought for family purity, for the morality and integrity of Jewish family life that would lead to generations of committed Jews, and it is for this reason that God bestowed upon him the covenant of eternal priesthood.

During the past four years, together with a dedicated staff, I have been privileged to work with families who made Aliyah because of their commitment to the mitzvah of yishuv ha'aretz and their desire to raise their children in the holy land of Israel. I truly believe that these families, and those who will join them in the months and years to come as olim chadashim, represent a growing link in the chain of continuity of a mamlechet kohanim v’goy kadosh.

May we all be privileged to see our families serve as exemplary role models of the morality and integrity of Jewish family life.
Dr. Ronald Wachtel is the founding director of Kav L’Noar, a four-year-old organization located in Jerusalem and dedicated to helping English-speaking families resolve the behavioral, emotional and psychological issues confronting their teenagers. He made Aliyah six years ago, after working for over 30 years as a school psychologist in both the public and yeshiva day school systems.

The foregoing commentary was distributed by the Aloh Naaleh organization.