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Shabbat Parashat Pinchas 5772

Parashat Hashavuah: Doing Mitzvot Happily, Even Amongst Crying

Harav Yosef Carmel

We have discussed in the past the connection between two wonderful and mysterious people in Tanach, Pinchas and Eliyahu, who according to many, are the same person. This week we will continue the theme.

Pinchas arose and took action against the couple that was desecrating Hashem’s Name, as the nation stood by crying (bochim), and for this he was rewarded with a special brit (covenant) of peace (Bamidbar 25:6-7, 12). We find a parallel section in Tanach. A malach (which can mean, angel or messenger) of Hashem came to the people at Bochim and reminded them that Hashem took them out of Egypt and warned them not to break their brit with Him. The place was called Bochim because of the crying (Shoftim 2:1-5). Chazal connect between the two episodes recorded in different books in Tanach and say that the malach in Sefer Shoftim is actually Pinchas (Vayikra Rabba 1).   

Not only is Pinchas called a malach, but at the end of Nevi’im, the prophet, Malachi, says in Hashem’s name that He will send a malach to prepare the way for the revelation of Hashem in the Days to Come and refers to “the malach of the brit, whom we desire” (3:1). Finally, the navi says that he is sending the prophet, Eliyahu, before that great and awesome day (3:23).

One of the most powerful mandates in the Torah is to serve Hashem with happiness. We see this from the saying in regard to the curses, which come “because you did not serve Hashem with happiness and a good heart, from a plenty of everything” (Devarim 28:47). Yet, there is one very important mitzva, which is always accompanied with crying. We are referring to the brit mila, where the baby cries, as he did when he was born. This is a happy type of crying for us despite the pain.

The zealous prophet, Eliyahu, complained to Hashem that Bnei Yisrael forsook the brit (Melachim I, 19). The midrash says that, in response, he was commanded to visit every brit mila, where we are to prepare a special chair for him, so that he can see that we have not forsaken the covenant. He is sent both to console the crying baby and to rectify the complaint that he made about the nation.

It is thus easy to see the connection between Pinchas and Eliyahu. Pinchas was the malach who was zealous when he had reason to fear that there was a danger to the brit, both in Bamidbar and in Shoftim. There he met up with those who were crying. Eliyahu, the malach habrit, was sent to the crying baby at every brit mila.

Let us pray that we will merit keeping the many mitzvot with happiness and a good heart and continue to prove that the covenant has not been forsaken.

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