Cause and Effect

July 1, 2021
Tamuz 22, 5781
Candlelighting Time 8:13 PM

         Although Bilaam failed in his attempt to curse us, however, he successfully advised Midian to use its daughters promiscuously which led in turn to idol worship. Therefore, a death sentence was declared, and we went to war against Midian. It is interesting to note the language Hashem used when Moshe was commanded to wage war against them. He was told to antagonize and destroy them. Why was it necessary to add the additional command to rile them since the goal was to actually engage them in battle and eliminate them?

         S’fas Emes has a fascinating insight that provides us with a new perspective about the incident of Pinchas and his killing the prince of the tribe of Shimon. At this juncture in our nation’s approaching the Land of Israel, our relationship with Hashem shifts. Until now, Hashem showered His benevolence upon us and in response we returned that love, care and devotion with the ultimate rejoinder, serving Hashem with passion, inspiration and steadfastness. However, beginning with Pinchas that has changed. We needed to create the impetus which will ‘elicit’ from Hashem an enjoinder.

         Indeed, although it would seem that Moshe was helpless when Zimri was sinning with Cozbi and therefore Pinchas had to react and save the day, this is inaccurate. This event was a turning point whereas Moshe was not the proper individual to attack Zimri, Pinchas was. He reacted to the situation when we were subject to a plague that was ravaging our ranks and arrested the progression of the onslaught. He was proactive as opposed to being reactive. Moshe’s role as our leader until now had been one of reaction and therefore forewarned when the necessity arose. Pinchas, on the other hand, seized the opportunity, utilizing the law that permits such a potent intervention when a Jewish man is sinning with a non-Jewish woman. And that was actually his merit to become a Kohen despite the fact that a Kohen who murders may not serve in that capacity, killing Zimri was a deciding factor that gained him that status. Aron was initiated through Hashem’s selection, whereas Pinchas was inducted through his own volition, the ultimate eminence of a Kohen. And since Pinchas deserved his role as Kohen due to his self-sacrifice to glorify Hashem’s honor when countless others were desecrating the integrity and prestige of the nation, he earned that right forever, through all of his generations.

         We are witnessing on a large scale many disruptive calamities that have befallen upon us directly or have happened to the world at large. We cannot remain reactive, rather we must become proactive and readdress our relationship with Hashem. Inclusive of that obligation is to reassess our association with our fellow man. We are presently in the “Three Weeks’ of mourning for the loss of the Beis Hamikdash which occurred two thousand years ago. Yet, we are still bereft of its presence and we cry every year at this time on Tisha B’av that Hashem in His tremendous attribute of mercy should return it to us. The tears are important however more significant are the actions that cry out loudly and clearly that we truly miss it and want it back in our midst.   


Although Binyomin had ten sons and Don only had one, the eventual numbers of the latter far surpassed that of Binyomin. We can only stand in awe as we witness the progression that takes place under the watchful eyes of Hashem.