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Parshas Pinchas – Taking Responsibility

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When should you speak out and when should you remain silent? To what extent do you have to take responsibility and when should you remain passive? In our culture, it is politically correct to mind your own business, keep your nose clean and not become enmeshed in situations that are sensitive and difficult. Our parsha teaches us differently.

Pinchas, the grandson of Aaron, is awarded G-d s Covenant of Peace and Priesthood. What is the reason for this awesome privilege? The Torah gives us the answer: Because he took vengeance for his G-d. (Numbers 25:13).

The passage should give us pause. What is the Torah trying to impart to us by referring to HaShem as the G-d of Pinchas exclusively? Isn t He the G-d of all of us?

In time of crises, when you have to put yourself on the line in defense of a cause, when you have to battle injustice, corruption, immorality and evil, it is easy to rationalize and justify complacency by stating It s not my concern. Let others speak out. After all, G-d is the G-d of everyone, so why should I be the one to take up His cause? Why should I be the one to assume responsibility?

But if you feel that G-d is your personal G-d, if you love G-d with all your heart and all your soul, then you cannot bear to see His honor desecrated, and you feel compelled to cry out in His defense. Therefore, our sages advise us to write for ourselves two notes. ..one for each pocket–the first stating, For me, the world was created, meaning that I am responsible. It s all up to me. I cannot shirk my duty and scapegoat, and even if the entire world is complacent, corrupt and immoral, I dare not be. This is all valid when it comes to injustice and desecration of G-d s Name.

On the second note however, we are to write I am nothing but dust and ashes–meaning that, when it pertains to our own personal Kavod/honor, our own seat, our own parking place, our own esteem–we must be forgiving and forego our honor.

Pinchas never considered his own honor–only that of G-d. He made G-d his personal G-d, Pinchas could have rationalize–why should I get involved let Moses and Aaron be the ones to combat immorality, but Pinchas assumed responsibility. It is for this reason that he was rewarded with the eternal covenant of Priesthood and Peace. Even as Pinchas, we too must have the courage to speak out and unafraid raise our own voices on behalf of our G-d, our Torah and our people. Thus we can do our share to restore peace and harmony to the world.

Tisha B`Av–We are now in the “three weeks period” which are days of semi-mourning commemorating the breaching of the walls of Jerusalem — leading to the Nine Days and the destruction of the Holy Temple on Tisha B`Av. Tisha B`Av is the most tragic of days in the Jewish calendar year, Throughout the centuries, all the calamities that befell us occurred on Tisha B`Av.

By: Rabbi Osher Jungreis
(Hineni.org)

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