Altruistic Affection

“Pinchas son of Elazar son of Aharon the Kohen, turned back My wrath from upon the Children of Israel, when he zealously avenged My vengeance among them, so I did not consume the Children of Israel in My vengeance. Therefore, say: Behold! I give him My covenant of peace”

(Bamidbar 25:11-12)

Pinchas’ name, usually spelled without a letter י', is written here in its full version. Chazal (Zohar III, 215b) explain that Hashem added a letter of His own Name to that of Pinchas to prove that Pinchas acted with pure motives in killing Zimri. Pinchas was present when Zimri brazenly asked Moshe who had allowed him to marry Tzipporah, after Moshe had invalidated his union with Kuzbi of Midian (Sanhedrin 82a). Pinchas could not tolerate Zimri’s rebellious attitude and the way he compared two incomparable women. He therefore took his spear and pierced Zimri and Kuzbi, thereby killing them. Pinchas acted only for Hashem’s sake. He could not bear watching someone sin so blatantly, before the entire nation. Proof of his righteousness is the fact that the epidemic stopped in its tracks.

The gaon and tzaddik, Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler, zt”l, writes in his sefer Michtav Me’Eliyahu (III, 168-169) that a person’s level of love of Hashem is measured by whether or not he loves other objects, as well. It is impossible to love Hashem while loving materialism. True love must have only one focus. Pinchas loved only Hashem, with all his heart and soul. This force energized him with the power to kill Zimri l’shem Shamayim. Hashem added the letter י' to his name, attesting to his altruistic intentions.

One of my visits to Argentina coincided with the world-wide football Super Bowl. I told the people that it was impossible to be glued to their television screens, obsessed with the game, while harboring love of Hashem in their heart. One must come at the expense of the other. I must mention a point in the favor of these people who stood stalwart in their faith, refusing to watch the game on Shabbat. This is what took place. The game was reaching its climax, and the tension reached a peak. The entire world was watching to see who would win the final round. A few Jews approached me, asking who would claim victory. I answered that the next day was Shabbat. In my lecture that afternoon, I would reveal who would win. The men exchanged embarrassed glances. One of them finally gathered the courage to clarify that at that very hour, the fateful game would be taking place. They couldn’t possibly attend my shiur.

I wouldn’t give up. “But tomorrow is Shabbat! Television is prohibited!” They explained that they either turn on the set before the onset of Shabbat, or have a gentile do it for them on Shabbat. I remained in my position, “It is an act of chillul Shabbat to watch television then.” But they refused to forfeit this pleasure. I used my powers of persuasion, finally convincing them to attend the shiur, where I would reveal the final winners.

Out of curiosity, the people attended the shiur in droves, Jew and non-Jew alike. After the shiur, even the gentiles told their friends that they were impressed by the beauty of Torah, as reflected in the shiur. This was how my shiur progressed: I opened with words of Torah. After some time, I asked the attendees if they wanted to know who would win the game. “Certainly!” they cried out in unison. I answered, “We won! We did not compromise on Shemirat Shabbat. We did not gaze at the television, but, instead, came to a Torah lecture. We overcame our Yetzer Hara. We cannot commit a transgression and then claim to love Hashem. We cannot love football together with Him.”

A person cannot cherish money at the same time that he loves Hashem. Let us remember that money will not escort a person on his Final Journey. Recently, a classmate of my son, Moshe, was killed in a car accident while crossing the street. His father is as rich as Korach, but what does all his wealth accomplish? The only things he will take to the Next World are his Torah study and good deeds.

The best proof that we truly love Hashem is devoting our lives for Him and sacrificing something we really love for the sake of our love of Hashem, just as Pinchas did. Wouldn’t a person make sure to awaken in time for a flight? This proves he can get up on time for prayer. When a person really feels attached to something, no effort is too great for the sake of that object.

In Summary


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