June 21, 2024
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How to Understand Shalom

Reb Chaim Kanievsky points out that if we judged Pinchas’ act in the mandatory realm then no reward would be due, as he would merely be fulfilling his duty. But he engaged in an optional endeavor and therefore received a special reward.

I would like to add to what Reb Chaim, shlita, is saying by analyzing Pinchas’ name. The question is asked why there’s a small yud by the name of Pinchas. I believe the answer is that the Torah is coming to emphasize to look at the acronym of Pinchas’ name, pen chas, maybe he will have pity. We know in Judaism that names create destinies. According to the opinion in the Gemara that Pinchas was a “counted” descendant of Aharon Hakohen, then his inherent nature would have been to have pity and not engage in the aggressive act, yet he masterfully overcame it. Even according to the opinion that he was not a kohen before the act, he still overcame human nature that would dictate to remain on the sidelines and not take such a bold act. Incredibly, Pinchas rose to overcome a destiny wrought in a “perhaps” category.

Pinchas got a bris shalom. How can that be explained? My great-great-grandfather, Rabbi Levine zt”l, explains the midrash that says the shalom by birkat kohanim refers to Torah. He said that Torah has the ability to bring shalom between the guf and neshama. Therefore, Pinchas got the bris of Torah in all of its glory (naturally, as he carried out the instructions of Moshe); as we know, Shevet Levi were also the teachers of klal Yisrael, and now it was cemented for eternity. The vav is bent to show that Torah gives us the ability to bend for our fellow man.

Indeed, talmidei chachamim are marbim shalom in the world because they have achieved balance and harmony with the Torah and can therefore bring harmony and solve conflicts and problems for individuals as well as for the klal.

By Steven Genack


Steven Genack is the author of the upcoming book “Articles, Anecdotes & Insights,” Genack/Genechovsky Torah from Gefen Press.

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