Shanen Bloom Werber
Family coordinator for the first Torah MiTzion’s presence in Chicago in the 1990’s
Currently lives in Gush Etzion

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Pinchas – what a unique individual. He stood up and acted. When all others were shocked and did not know what to do. He was zealous; or was that jealous – for HaShem’s honor! He acted and his actions halted and changed what was happening around him. He saved Am Yisrael from destruction. That is how this parsha begins, following up on the actions which end the reading of last Shabbat.
Moshe had saved the nation before, with words or prayer; with reasoning and imploring. Pinchas saved them by standing up and acting, violently and definitively.
For this, HaShem rewarded Pinchas with “בריתי שלום” , a violent act rewarded by a covenant of peace.  And yet immediately thereafter, the nation is counted in preparation for war…
Pinchas’ action was the shocking intense response to a one time challenge. What a powerful way to begin a parsha!
The end of the parsha is also unique and powerful, but it is not a one time event or action. Rather from narrative, to census, to narrative (Bnot Tzelafchad), the parsha proceeds, and it’s final section covers the  entire calendar year, going from daily (the korban tamid) to weekly (Shabbat offerings) to monthly (“on the first/start of your month”) offerings, the parsha then lists each chag with its date and its offerings, going through the whole yearly cycle.
This presentation of the chagim is one listing presented in context of korbanot; the offerings differ, but the purpose and style of the offerings is the same. A day in – day out, week in – week out, month in – month out series of offerings, expressions of the nation’s devotion to HaShem. And the holiday offerings, marking the unique dates in our calendar emphasizing different aspects of our relationship to HaShem.
These offerings are structured, with set protocol. Daily, weekly, monthly, yearly. All known and expected; all set in place.
What a difference from how this parsha started: that was spontaneous, unscripted, unexpected.
What are we to make of such extremes in one parsha? Spontaneous and violent action of one individual acting to avenge his G-d, versus structured, almost choreographed, activity of a group (of kohanim) who follow set guidelines and act for HaShem.
Only that we can say there is a time and a place for everything and for everyone to show his/her devotion to one’s G-d, and to His people.
The challenge to us is when to follow which style: when to act as a zealous, violent devotee, and when to jointly follow guidelines! Each style brings it’s own glory to .הקדוש ברוך הוא
May we merit the opportunity to act, and to know when to act like Pinchas and when a more ritualized style with all its pageantry is the right path.
In memory of Michael Yaacov ben Avraham and Chava Devora Bloom, whose parsha was Pinchas; from which he read mafti  time and again throughout the cycles of many years.
יהי זכרו ברוך!