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    The lineage of Pinchas

    pinchasMany people populate the Torah text, but not all are introduced like Pinchas with a family tree. We learn about Pinchas that he was “the son of Elazar (who was) the son of Aaron the kohen”.

    The fact that Pinchas was a kohen is certainly relevant to the story, since before long we learn that though he did an unpriestly thing by killing an offender, his k’hunah was not stripped away. But why do we need to know about his relationship with Elazar and Aaron?

    Rashi’s theory is that people were gossiping about him and drawing attention to various unsavoury things in his family background, suggesting that there was a streak of violence in the family. In this situation it was necessary to silence the gossip-mongers and restore Pinchas’ reputation as a grandson of Aaron.

    What this adds to the story can be filled in if we remember that Aaron was the supreme peace-maker, “loving peace and pursuing peace”.

    Peace is a supreme ideal, but not at any price. Not even for the sake of a quiet, peaceful camp could Pinchas – despite his Aaronic descent – allow moral evil to go unchecked.

    It might have seemed out of character for a grandson of Aaron to resort to violence when an intolerable act was committed, but the story tells us that there are limits to peace.

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