Parasha Pinchas 5780 – Trust Your Intuition, Accept the Outcome
In Brachot, when R. Eliezer was ill, his disciples came to him. They asked him, “Master, teach us the paths of life so that through them we may merit the life of the world to come.” One of the things he said to them was, “Keep your children from rationalization” and he also said “When you pray, know before Whom you are standing.”
“Let not HaShem’s community be like sheep who have no shepherd for them.” The extra emphasis placed on the phrase “for them,” means each person must have a shepherd inside himself. The shepherd must enter inside, into the depths of each person, and strengthen his faith in God, and through this also draw salvation close.” ~ The Piaseczna Rebbe
One of my Rabbi’s used to say to me “to be a Jew you must know when to do the wrong thing” meaning that, as Jews, we must know when to push past the rational and into our intuition, or on a deeper level, connect to the Divine Spark that dwells within each one of us. This is not easy to say the least, because it can push us past our comfort zones, past societal norms, or maybe even past the letter of the Halacha. G-d forbid, I am not saying that this should be taken lightly. What I am saying is that we see many examples in Torah where an individual standing up and doing the “wrong thing” was exactly what Am Yisrael needed. We also see many examples where doing the “wrong thing” was just wrong.
Here in the case of Pinchas, we see an extreme example of doing something that was way outside of the norm. He murdered, he took the law into his own hands, there was no trial, no judge, no jury. He took action with a reward in the world to come for his action. We see here that Am Yisrael had taken to Moabite women and Pinchas could not stand for it anymore. He became unique amongst our people, and in the ‘eyes of HaShem’ for his actions and was given the Bris Shalom.
There are many places where the actions of an individual were extreme, courageous and filled with passionate resolve. Their service of HaShem was something that was deep inside of them and alive. Their service was real and filled with the awareness of the nuance in that precise moment.
I believe that when R. Eliezer spoke to his students, and among other things warned against rationalization and to remember that we are always standing before HaShem, he was encouraging them to live a life of real relationship and responsibility to HaShem. Maybe he was saying, serve HaShem with passion and follow your intuition don’t be afraid to be yourself.
Later, the Piaseczna Rebbe speaks about the shepherd inside, that this shepherd must go deep inside and it will strengthen the individual’s emuna and bring about ultimate salvation.
I know that in my life I have experienced so many moments of choice. Moments where the decision, between what seemed like two impossible actions, needed to be made. Some of those choices even include halachic ramifications. Looking back some of the decisions I made seemed to be the “right decision” and some the “wrong decision” – but they were mine to make, and when I was at that pivotal moment in each of those decisions, I sought to find HaShem and serve Him with all that I had.
A commitment to live a life walking with HaShem and serving Him with your whole being sometimes might include having the courage to do the “the wrong thing” at the right time. It’s also a life of willingness to accept the consequences of your actions l’shem shemiem. Pinchas did the “wrong thing”, but it was mamash, the right decision. And he also was rewarded greatly. There were many other cases where we see that an individual thought they were doing the right thing by doing the “wrong thing” and it cost them their lives. This is the dialectic of life in a real relationship with HaShem and the Torah. There can be no formulas. Formulas lead to an avoda that can destroy and crush the soul when the outcomes are not what we want or expect. But when we let go and serve HaShem in truth, from our deepest depths with strength and courage – the formulas don’t matter, and neither do the outcomes.
Abba, please give me the strength to be the man that you created me to be. Help me to live for you, not for anything or anyone else. Give me the courage to follow what you put in my heart so that our relationship can be alive. A relationship of truth and beauty. A relationship that is nimble and flexible. A relationship that is about the devekut of the moment and not about a foretold and formulaic outcome. I want to be a reliable and responsible servant, I desire to be here, as if, for You when you need me and how you need me, no matter how it seems on the outside. Thank you for showing us the beauty, strength and courage of imperfection in the Torah so that we can model our lives after those that had a burning desire to serve you above all else. Amen