Berit Shalom by Nachi Farkas


In Parashat Pinchas, Hashem grants Pinchas the Brit Shalom, the covenant of peace, as a response to his actions concerning Kuzbi and Zimri and their inappropriate licentiousness. This covenant of peace is given along with the covenant of Kehunah, priesthood. While it is easy to understand what Hashem means by the covenant of Kehunah, the meaning of the covenant of peace has been hotly debated. Seforno suggests that it is a promise for a long life and attributes this as a proof to the theory that Eliyahu is Pinchas. Others like the Ibn Ezra say that the covenant of peace is a declaration in order to protect Pinchas from Zimri’s family who would avenge his death. The Netziv writes that the covenant of peace was a remedy rather than a reward.

The Netziv believes that the remedy is a guarantee that Pinchas will not change even after this treacherous ordeal. After having killed two people, albeit vindicated by their actions, Pinchas could have undergone a moral change. The blatant disregard for human life that is displayed by murder will end up adversely affecting the murderer. The act will cause the person to disregard the fact that every living thing is created by God. The Netziv says that this Brit Shalom is a promise to Pinchas that although he performs the unthinkable by ending two lives, he will remain a patient and compassionate human being with sustained regard for human life.

While murder is an extreme act, any act that would cause a person to lose respect for others should be taken more seriously. Every time one disregards another’s feelings or emotions, one is in essence disregarding their presence as creations of God, thereby desensitizing himself to the grievance he is causing. Every time one speaks Lashon HaRa, makes fun of a friend, or does not show respect to another person, he is denying their existence and their equality as human beings. Let us hope that we will not have to come to such an extreme as to disregard life in such a way that Pinchas was forced, but rather that a new sense of regard for human life can help us realize the true potential in everyone, and a new sense of respect will fix the Sinat Chinam, baseless hatred, that is keeping us in Galut, Exile.

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