Pinchus became a Kohen able to serve in theBeis Hamikdash only after killing Zimri, the BaisAv of Shevet Shimon, for his act of immorality with Kozbi the Midyanite woman. This is difficult to understand for two reasons.

1) Although Pinchus was a descendant of AharonHakohen, he was nevertheless not anointed with the shemen hamishcha together with Aharon and his children, and therefore never attained the status of Kohen until now.  Why was Pinchus omitted from the original anointing?

2) The Gemarah teaches ( Berachos 32) that aKohen who kills is prohibited from reciting the priestly blessing. Yet, here we find just the opposite; the very act of killing Zimri was what merited Pinchus into becoming a full – fledgedKohen.  Why should that be?

The Sefarim explain, in the name of the AriHakadosh, that Pinchus was born possessing the root neshama of Kayin, who had killed Hevel.  Kohanim are characterized by their middasHachesed, and Kayin had removed himself from such a trait. Therefore, Pinchus, who was rooted in Kayin, was not anointed with his siblings and only merited becoming a Kohen by rectifying Kayin’s murder of his brother. There was nothing wrong with Pinchus per se, but he possessed Kayin’s influence, and needed to rectify himself by zealously risking his life and killing in the name ofHashem.

When Kayin was born, his mother, Chava, called him קין, saying:  קניתי איש את ה’.  Chavah recognized the potential kochos that were given to Kayin. He was destined to be an איש, a leader, one who would bring people closer to Hashem. It wasn’t that he alone would be a קנין of Hashem, but that he would influence others to be the same. However, Kayin used his leadership qualities for selfish reasons, which led to the untimely death of his brother. Pinchus, being from the same sourceneshamah, also possessed Kayin’s leadership qualities, and he used it to bring Am Yisrael toteshuvah, to make them into Hashem’sacquisition. He fulfilled Chava’s tefillah of קניתי איש את ה’ .

In order to do an act of zealousness, one’s intentions have to be totally for the sake of Heaven, without any ulterior motives. The wordקנא which describes a zealous person, refers to one who is completely acquired ( קן) by Hashem(who is hinted at in the letter א). That is why thegematriah of the word קנא is 151, equivalent toמקוה.   Immersing in a mikveh also requires a total submersion of every fiber of one’s being in submission to the will of Hashem.

The Rebbe from Tosh writes that every Yid is really acquired by Hashem, as it says in PirkeiAvos (6,11):  “ Hashem acquired five possessions in His world,” and one of them is Am Yisrael.  TheMishnah brings a proof from the verse in AzYashir: עד יעבור עם זו קנית. Every Yid, therefore, has the potential to be a servant of Hashem, to obey His commands, and not to be selfish. This is the meaning of the term Chazal use that every Yidmust serve   קונו, which is often translated as “his creator.” Literally translated, however, it means the One who acquired and possesses him. If one recognizes that every atom of his/her body is owned and sustained by Hashem, it should be quite difficult to not listen to His beckoning.

On this concept, the Baal Hatanya brings an incredible thought. Let us imagine that you are approached by goyim who threaten you as follows: Serve idolatry or else we’ll kill you on the spot. The natural response of the Yid is to die and make a Kiddush Hashem. Am Yisrael has a legacy of thousands of stories of totally unaffiliatedYidden who, when faced with this situation, fulfilled this mitzvah with great and uncompromising emunah. Where did this sudden unflinching allegiance come from? Because, at that very moment, they experienced the absolute realization that they don’t own themselves at all. They knew they were, 100%, property of the Almighty, and had no right to say no to His request of dying for Kiddush Hashem.

Giving up one’s life is the greatest human sacrifice. In those very last fleeting moments of life, everyone a person knows, everything they’ve accomplished, all the memories, the longings, the experiences of love, pleasure, family, and even the fulfillment of Torah and mitzvos, are about to be terminated forever. Yet, this sacrifice is still expected from each and every Jew, and Yidden,Baruch Hashem, have risen to the moment.

So now, let us ask ourselves the following question. If we are willing to surrender to Hashemeverything that we know as existence, why then do we choose to be lazy and not daven with aminyan? Why do we find it so difficult to shut our mouths for a few seconds and stop speakinglashon hara or insulting another person? Why do we feel that controlling an episode of anger is such an incredible sacrifice in comparison toKiddush Hashem, where we voluntarily give up life in its entirety?

The next time we are challenged within ourbechirah, let us try and remember, “ Hashemowns me at this very moment.” If, at that instant, your very life was challenged, you would, without question, become a martyr and surrender it to your sole (soul) owner willingly. With this thought and focus in your mind, you will instantly find that this seemingly overwhelming test of closing your lips and not saying those inappropriate words suddenly becomes much less challenging after all. Would you not agree?

Gut Shabbos
Rav Brazil