When Pinchus witnessed the intimate act of the Midyanite princess Kozbi with the Zimri, the Nasi of Shimon, ויקח רמח בידו he took a spear in his hand and he killed them both instantly. Why did the Torah go out of its way to identify the name of the weapon that Pinchus used to kill them both?

Chazal tell us that only an individual who felt a zealousness for Hashem and His kovod was permitted to kill the transgressors in the midst of such an aveiroh. However, if one lacked this passion even the slightest, he was prohibited to carry out this execution. This is alluded to in the above passuk that he took a רמח in his hand. The word רמח aside from being a spear hints to the 248 limbs in the human body which correspond to the 248 positive mitzvos of the Torah. In the deeper sense the Torah is relating to us that Pinchus, as he witnessed this abomination taking place, experienced an overwhelming feeling to the point that every single one of his limbs were drained from their energy of life and had no existence so long as this shameful act was being committed. Witnessing such an act caused a spiritual suffocation to overtake his being and at those moments it was as if he was fighting for his life. The רמח description of the Torah is not only necessary to relate to us  how he killed them, but also to share with us the why he had permission to kill them. That only someone on his caliber who’s every fiber of his being felt the horrific shame of this transgression, was granted the permission to terminate the lives of the transgressors.

It is for this reason that Pinchus merited the beracha of Hashem of שלום as the passuk says הנני נותן לו את בריתי שלום. The word shalom, besides meaning peace, also means whole. In order for there to be peace it must be a complete peace 100%. This can be derived from the Medrash that says that when Hashem was about to create Adam Harishon there was an argument in the heavens whether Hashem should actualize this desire. The middah of Emes argued not to create Man for he will be full of lies. The middah of Shalom also opposed his creation claiming that he will be full of machlokes. Hashem responded to the middah of Emes by casting it down to earth as the passuk says ותשלח אמת ארצה. The Rebbe from Kotzk asked that if Hashem was not happy with the middah of Emes and cast it down to earth, why did He not do the same with the middah of Shalomwhich was also opposed Man’s creation? The Rebbe answered that Hashem was demonstrating to us the vast difference between these two middos. When one throws something from a high place to a low one, it will shatter into many pieces. Even a fragment of Emes is still Emes even though one does not grasp its entirety. By allowing the Emes to shatter will not make it inaccessible to one who truly seeks to acquire it even if it the journey is bit by bit. However, with Shalom, a partial peace is not a peace at all. It’s either all or nothing. Fragmented peace like a cease fire means absolutely zero.

With the word shalom one can see the beauty of Lashon Hakodesh. In the English language the word peace has another spelling of piece which means a fragment. Just observe the stark difference in portraying the concept of peace. In the secular world, peace can be fragmented and partial. In Lashon Hakodesh every peace must possess a totality or else it is not called shalom. It is easy to say let us make up with a spouse, family member, neighbor etc. However it is more difficult to truly bring about such a wholesomeness after a machlokes, for some of the feelings of past animosity and hurt still linger on no matter how much we try to be sincere and sew the emotional tear. That is why the passuk says ה’ יברך את עמו בשלום for only Hashem can complete your effort to transform one’s striving for peace into its shelaimus and wholesomeness. Nevertheless we still have to do our part as much as we can and as far as we can reach. It can be compared to the beracha that we wish a mourner as we leave the premises המקום ינחם אתכם only Hashem can truly bring one to nechamahand comfort over the loss of a loved one. So too, only Hashem can complete the wholesomeness of shalom as long as one fully strives to process and achieve that middah.

Pinchus on the surface seemed to fragment the peace of Yisrael by killing the Nasi. The Bris of Shalom that was gifted to him was a testimony that his termination of the sinners was brought about through one’s deep pursuit and seeking of removing the shame and disgrace from Hashem. The sinners caused a state of non shalom with their relationship with Hashem. Pinchus was not compared, as many thought of him, to the same responders of Kannaim who scream Shabbos at a car passing through the Bar Ilan neighborhood during Shabbos. It is easy to scream Shabbos but are the protester’s Shabboses so perfect that they also feel suffocation of life at the time that they invoke their protest? Does the seeing of a ChilulShabbos awaken within them to go home and make a serious self introspection on the reason why Hashem allowed them to see this desecration? Maybe the reason of this sight is the same directive to the one who “happens” to see the dilapidating results of a Sotah after drinking the Sotah water?  Could it be that the witnesses of the Chillul are being shown in this this scenario because Hashem wants their Shabbos upgraded to higher levels?

There is a story of a gadol who once remarked to a known kannaee that he feels that his kannaus is too extreme. The person responded righteously in defense that all one has to do is to look at Pinchus and to what he was zoche because of his kannaus. The gadol just smiled and said the difference between and Pinchos is that the passuk says he took a spear. You walk around the entire day with spear in your hand. Pinchus’s kannaus stemmed from shelaimus with no other personal agenda motivation.

I find that the majority of the chillul Shabbos protesters on Shabbos are young people. The older and more seasoned Yerushalmis don’t scream unless they walk around with a spear the whole day. I guess the elders understand better what is demanded from them when they see such a scenario. Here however, the Torah testifies that Pinchus’s protest was caused because he felt that every fiber of his being was in danger of loss if he does not protest and eradicate this transgression from Yisrael. He was motivated to act from a place of Shalaim and wholesomeness, and therefore he was granted the gift of Shalom.

As far as the youthful Shabbos screamers, the minhag in Yeshiva has become that whenever we hear protests of Shabbos coming from our backs as we walk past the intersection of Shmuel Hanavi and Bar Ilan, we turn around and wave to the rowdy group which was behind us and return their Shabbos with a “gut Shabbos” a sort of token thank you for noticing us. Maybe in that way they will get the hint that it is more about the protesters than the chilonim. Peace is brought about through insight and teaching, by bringing light and not by increasing the darkness.

Gut Shabbos
Rav Brazil