For all posts on Pinchas click here
Pinchas 25:11, פִּינְחָס בֶּן אֶלְעָזָר בֶּן אַהֲרֹן הַכֹּהֵן הֵשִׁיב אֶת חֲמָתִי מֵעַל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּקַנְאוֹ אֶת קִנְאָתִי בְּתוֹכָם וְלֹא כִלִּיתִי אֶת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּקִנְאָתִי: Pinchas the son of Elazar the son of Aaron the kohen has turned My anger away from the children of Israel by his zealously avenging Me among them, so that I did not destroy the children of Israel because of My zeal.
Rashi comments, פינחס בן אלעזר בן אהרן הכהן: לפי שהיו השבטים מבזים אותו, הראיתם בן פוטי זה שפיטם אבי אמו עגלים לעבודה זרה והרג נשיא שבט מישראל, לפיכך בא הכתוב ויחסו אחר אהרן: Pinchas the son of Elazar the son of Aaron the kohen: Since the tribes were disparaging him, saying, Have you seen the son of Puti, whose mother’s father [Jethro] fattened (פִּטֵּם) calves for idols (See Rashi, Exod. 6:25), and who killed a chieftain of an Israelite tribe? For this reason, Scripture traces his pedigree to Aaron.
Rav Yonasan Eibshutz raises a question on this Rashi. Why were they making fun of him? Weren’t they aware that Zimri was, in fact, chayav misah (deserving of death)?
He answers that they accepted that Zimri was chayav misah, but the reason they had not gone ahead and killed him themselves, was because they said, “If a great man kills him, then there’s no kiddush Hashem (sactification of God’s name); we’re great and you’re not, so we let you kill him”. The Torah disagrees with them and tells us that he actually was great. The Torah goes on to say that they were just using it as an excuse and after 120, they will have nothing to say.
Yirmiyahu 1:6, 1:7 states, וָאֹמַר אֲהָהּ ה’ הִנֵּה לֹא-יָדַעְתִּי דַּבֵּר כִּי-נַעַר אָנֹכִי: And I said, “Alas, O Lord God! Behold, I know not to speak for I am a youth. וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֵלַי אַל-תֹּאמַר נַעַר אָנֹכִי כִּי עַל-כָּל-אֲשֶׁר אֶשְׁלָחֲךָ תֵּלֵךְ וְאֵת כָּל-אֲשֶׁר אֲצַוְּךָ תְּדַבֵּר- And the Lord said to me; Say not, “I am a youth,” for wherever I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak.
R Nosson Vachtvogel comments, “How many gedolei hador (Torah giants) have we lost, how many tzadikkim (righteous people) have we forfeited, because they didn’t hear al tomar naar onochi.”
We need to remember the concept of ‘bishvili nivra ha’olam’. Each person should think that the world was created just for him and all the other people, and everything around him, was created for the sole purpose of populating his world.
Gemara Gittin, 56 says, Reb Zecharia Ben Avkulos’ humility caused the destruction of second temple. Bar Kamtza, looking for revenge against the Jewish people, told the ceasar that if he (the ceasar) sent an animal to the Jews as a gift, they would refuse to bring it as a korban (offering to God). The ceasar, skeptical, sent an animal as a gift to the Jews, and told them to bring it as a korban. Bar Kamtza damaged the lip of the animal so that it would be invalid to be brought as an korban, and Reb Zecharia refused to bring the imperfect animal as a korban. They couldn’t kill Bar Kamtza even though he would tell the ceasar that the Jews rejected his offering. The Rabbis didnt step up and give orders to accept the offering or reject it and have Bar Kamtza killed. The quiet ‘sitting back, doing nothing’ caused the destruction.
There is a time and place for everything. There is a time to be humble and keep your opinion to youself, and there is a time to stand up and be counted.