At the beginning of Parshat Pinchas, G-d promises to Pinchas peace (Bamidbar 25: 10-12):
“And the Lord spoke to – Moses, saying, ‘the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned My wrath away from the children of Israel, in that he was very jealous for My sake… Therefore say: behold, I give unto him My covenant of peace.”
Why did Pinchas receive a peace treaty? What did it mean exactly?
At the end of the previous parasha, the Nation of Israel and was attracted by the Midyanites, a plague began, Zimri slept with a Midian woman. Following this, Pinchas takes things into his own hands and kills Zimri and Midian woman.
At the beginning of this week’s parasha, G-d says that thanks to the act of Pinchas, G-d did not wipe out the children of Israel. As a result of this He promises (25:12) :
“Therefore say: behold, I give unto him My covenant of peace.”
This promise was surprising! What is the connection between it and the act of Pinchas? Why specifically a covenant of peace?
Rashi explains that there is no connection between the act Pinchas did, but there is a connection between the result that the act of Pinchas created.
It is as if Pinchas made good for G-d, and a martyr’s reward is a covenant of peace with God. Evidently that meant, Pinchas has created a Kidush Hashem in the world, and thus gets rewarded.
The Chizkuni and Iban Ezra, as opposed to Rashi explain that there is a direct connection between the act of Pinchas and his reward. There was fear of what the relatives of Zimri would do to Pinchas, therefore G-d told him that he had nothing to fear, because He will protect him and take care of his safety.
My revered teacher, Rabbi Lichtenstein explained once that Pinchas was a wholly peaceful character, the epitome of a Cohen, priest. Such a cohen that the prophet, Malachi said (Malachi 2:4-7) “My covenant was with him of life and peace”. “Despite the special character of Pinchas, it sometimes is necessary also act tough, to fight in times of crisis. Pinchas knew how fight for the name of G-d while others did not.
However, there is still a concern: that after such an act maybe the peacefulness of Pinchas was tainted (according to the Ramban, even the most moral person, is marred slightly by war). G-d promised: “I hereby give him My covenant of peace”. From the beginging, Pinchas had a love of peace just like his father, Aharon who was described as loving peace and chasing after peace (Avot 1’). Additionally, the image of the priest is a figure of peace, and so he blesses the people of Israel in peace “G-d will bear His face to you and put on you peace.”
However, even a man of peace must sometimes go out and fight. A man of peace knows that his enemies, the enemies of Israel and the enemies of G-d must be punished. And even a man of peace knows that anyone who negotiates with terrorists is criminal and eventually will harm world peace. Out of concern for peace, we must sometimes go to war.
The sages in Kiddushin (66:) hint to this and wrote that a Cohen that has a defect is disqualified from his job, that Cohen should be “Shlam” or “complete” as we learned Pinchas “I hereby give him My covenant of peace, Shalom.”
Pinchas is the embodiment of perfection, shlamote, of “covenant of peace, shalom”, a man of peace, as the son of Aaron, made make peace and loved peace, and knew that as part of efforts to achieve peace we must act to eliminate evil from the world.
May we all merit the blessing of peace “ישא ה’ פניו אליך וישם לך שלום”.