After Pinchus killed Zimri and Kozbi, Hashem gave to him the Bris of Shalom. Why is the middah of Shalom the reward for this act? If you will answer and say that after Pinchus killed them the plague suddenly terminated, then he should have received a beracha of life rather than shalom?
To answer this let us turn to the interpretation of Rav Meir Yechiel Ostrovtzah ztl. The gemarah Berachos 20b says on the passuk of (Bamidbar 6,26) ישא ה’ פניו אליך וישם לך שלום that Hashem said to the malachim this that I show special favoritism to Am Yisrael ישא ה’ פניו אליך is because I only required them to bench Birkas Hamazon after eating the amount of ואכלת ושבעת when one is satisfied from what he ate. Yet Yisrael are stringent and go beyond the law and they have committed themselves to the bench by merely eating an olive’s measure.
From here we see that if Yisrael will stretch the fulfillment of mitzvos beyond the letter of the law, Hashem will view them and their actions benevolently with favoritism and VIP treatment, and He will bless them with the middah of shalom וישם לך שלום. Since the halacha is that if one comes across a Yid cohabiting with a goy, if he is overcome by the emotion of zealousness for kovid shamayim over this aveirah, he is permitted to kill the Yid. However, he is not commanded to do so. Even if he asks it as a question inquiring what to do in this instance, he cannot be told to kill the Yid. The decision to execute a fellow Jew in this situation must emanate from his inner zealousness and therefore it is considered an action לפנים משורת הדין. Since this was the case with Pinchus who acted from his jealousy for Hashem, he alone was rewarded with favoritism from Hashem and the bris of shalom.
Before we continue further with the Ostrovtzer’s elaboration on this subject let us first understand why by going beyond the letter of the law with a display of enhancing a mitzvah, results with the middah of shalom? We can answer as follows. The sefarim tell us that every Yid must fulfill the 613 mitzvos. But how is that possible when so many mitzvos possess certain conditions such as being a Kohen, living in Eretz Yisrael, being a bechor, owning land etc. The meforshim answer and say for a Yid to complete the entire regimen of the Torah he must possess the middah of shalom and achdus. Because of achdus all Klal Yisrael become like one individual and the mitzvos are shared by everyone. This concept is found in the story of the goy who came before Hillel and asked him to teach him the entire Torah on one foot. The sefarim explain that this goy was really asking from Hillel to teach him how to fulfill the entire Torah on “one foot” which means during one’s lifetime without returning in a gilgul form. Hillel’s answer was ואהבת לרעך כמוך if one loves every Yid and there is shalom residing amongst them then you can share in the reservoir of mitzvos accumulated by the Jewish Nation.
This concept can be gleaned from the 248 positive mitzvos. Chazal tells us that the number 248 is exact for it corresponds to the 248 limbs in the body, each limb aligned with a particular mitzvah. Each limb is a different entity and possesses its own uniqueness, identity, and function even though it is contained together in the same body. When one fulfills the mitzvah of tefillin on his hand we don’t say the hand had tefillin on today or the mouth learned Torah. Rather we say that the person put on tefillin and learned Torah. Every limb’s purpose is to facilitate the actualization of its particular parallel mitzvah in order that the individual should become a residence for the Shechinah. So too, Klal Yisrael are likened to one body which possesses millions of unique parts that together enable the nation to merit the Divine Presence within them. And since they are one body they benefit to its general welfare and thereby merit each other by functioning to their fullest.
If Hashem sees that a Yid fulfills his mitzvos with enthuthiasm, and he strives to enhance them to the best of his capability, he has then proven that under different circumstances, for instance, if he would have owned land or was a kohen, he definitely would run to fulfill those mitzvos as well. This individual therefore finds favor in the eyes of Hashem and he is blessed with shalom with the other members of Am Yisrael. For through this middah, he is gifted with the merit to share in the mitzvos of others as is deemed as if he fulfilled them himself. That is why the letters of the word שלום also spell the word שלם, complete. For through the middah of shalom with all types of Yidden one can attain shelaimus in the fulfillment of the 613 mitzvos.
Let us return to the explanation of the Ostrovtzah. With this explanation he answers Tosfos’s question in Baba Metziah 30b that the reason what caused the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash was because they didn’t go לפנים משורת הדין which contradicts Yuma 9b where it says that the reason of the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash was due to שנאת חנם? The Ostrovtza Rebbe answers that had they went beyond the law, they would have merited to receive grace from Hashem who would have showered them with shalom and there would not have been hatred among one another.
We can add to his explanation the reason why the Zohar says that when Pinchus acted on his zealousness, the neshamos of Nadiv and Avihu entered his body. O ne might ask why at this particular time did this phenomenon occur? The answer is that Nadav and Avihu brought a strange fire which they were not commanded to do and it was deemed a desecration of Hashem’s name. Pinchus also performed an act of zealousness which he was not commanded to do but it created a tremendous Kiddush Hashem and he merited to become a malach and never die. They both performed acts that were not commanded but in contrast to each other, one act was accepted in shamayim and the other one was not. It was through Pinchus that the sons of Ahron received a tikkun for their wrong doing.
Until now we were talking about enhancing kedusha and mitzvos by an upgrade of לפנים משורת הדין which brings about shalom and Hashem’s grace הארת פנים. But one must know that the same is true with aveiros where one is also accountable for his upgrades in aveiros besides the aveirah itself. The son of the Ostrovtzeh Rebbe in his sefer Kadshei Yechezkail writes on the Rashi which says at the beginning of the parsha that the Shevatim were shaming Pinchus by saying derogatory statements such as he is the son of Puti which means to fatten. They were referring to Yisro, the father of Pincus’s mother who fattened calves in order to sacrifice them to avoda zarah. It is therefore that the passuk listed his lineage to Aharon to express that his yichus was upgraded. Just like we find when one brings a korban to Hashem he picks out the nicest one for the Korban, so too, Yisro before he converted, would pick out the nicest animal to sacrifice to avodah zarah. Now that he converted, he only fixed up the aveirah of worshipping avodah zarah but not the hiddur and the enhancement that he made in the choice to pick the quality of korbanos to avodah zarah by fattening them up. This aveirah of enhancement beyond the minimum when it came to avodah zarah, was rectified by his grandson Pinchus with his act of zealousness which was also beyond the duty of the law.
Chazal teaches us that the good is measured 500 times greater than what we find with evil. An aveirah, which came about through embellishing the aveirah with extra lust and pleasure, also needs a separate tikkun for that extras and maximum invested in the רע. Surely a Yid will be rewarded handsomely for extending himself to fulfill a mitzvah with enhancements, upgrades and extras.
– Rav Brazil