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Seek Peace

06/29/2021 10:10:13 AM

Jun29

Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

A plague engulfs the Israelites during a massive act of apostasy at the end of last week’s Torah portion, Balak. More than 20,000 die!

But when Aaron’s grandson Pinchas kills a privileged Israelite man who is preparing to engage in idol-worship and more with a Midianite princess, the plague abruptly ends.

Pinchas’s double homicide ended their lives gruesomely. But it also saved hundreds more from death by plague.

For his act of principled violence, God grants Pinchas’s descendants the line of priesthood for all time. 

Violence begets violence. That is generally true. I wish more of us could follow the dugma (modeling) of Aaron himself. He is our tradition’s greatest rodef Shalom, seeker of peace. There are no doubt many, many conflicts that could and should be resolved peacefully. 

On the other hand, history has taught us - sadly, tragically - that some situations are so intractable (and some people so implacably wicked),that a forceful response is justified. Yes, violence USUALLY begets more violence. But sometimes, when all other options have been exhausted, measured and proportional force may be justified. 

Ultimately, may we strive to be like Aaron and his disciples: tireless seekers of peace.

L’Shalom,

Rabbi Jeffrey Weill

Tue, April 23 2024 15 Nisan 5784