An Eternal Reward

July 11, 2017 at 3:20 AM , , ,

“…Pinchas son of Elazar, the son of Aharon the kohen, has turned My anger away from Bnei Yisrael by his zealously avenging Me among them, so that I did not destroy Bnei Yisrael because of My zeal…” – Bamidbar 25:11

פִּינְחָס בֶּן אֶלְעָזָר בֶּן אַהֲרֹן הַכֹּהֵן הֵשִׁיב אֶת חֲמָתִי מֵעַל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּקַנְאוֹ אֶת קִנְאָתִי בְּתוֹכָם וְלֹא כִלִּיתִי אֶת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּקִנְאָתִי – במדבר כה, יא

The heroic actions of Pinchas averted G-d’s anger from the Jewish people. In reward, G-d granted Pinchas kehunah, priesthood—“for him and his descendants after him” (Bamidbar 25:13).

Like Pinchas, Moshe saved the Jewish people from G-d’s wrath on a number of occasions. Yet, we do not find that Moshe was rewarded with any similar “hereditary” reward. In fact, even Moshe’s request that his children should inherit his position was explicitly denied by G-d (see Rashi on Bamidbar 27:16). Why was Pinchas’ reward even greater than Moshe’s?


The answer is that Moshe and Pinchas differed in their modes of operation. Moshe saved the Jewish people through prayer: he beseeched G-d to forgive their sins and to retract the harsh punishments that they faced. Pinchas, however, saved the Jewish people through his actions. He heroically killed the sinful prince of Shimon, and by sanctifying G-d’s name before all of Israel (and inspiring them to repent) he stopped the deadly plague. Whereas Moshe saved the Jewish people through his intervention on High, Pinchas saved them through his efforts to elevate them from below.

A similar distinction between them is that Moshe put his spiritual life—his bond with the Torah—on the line to save the Jewish people; he challenged G-d to forgive the people, and “if not, erase me now from Your book, which You have written” (Shemos 32:32). Pinchas, however, risked his physical life in order to stop the plague. He exposed himself to mortal risk, entering the territory of the tribe of Shimon and killing their popular leader.

Therefore, just as Pinchas’ deeds were uniquely “grounded” in comparison to Moshe’s, so was Pinchas’ reward firmly established “for him and his descendants after him, an eternal covenant.”

—Likutei Sichos, vol. 18, pp. 344-347

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