Pinchas: Rav Ruderman: The Power of the Individual Part 3
The Midrash (Shir HaShirim Rabbah 4:24) teaches that when Joseph refused the seductions of Potiphar’s wife, he empowered all of Israel to control those urges as long as they remained in Egypt! One action by an individual, empowered a nation for generations!
This is what Pinchas accomplished. Zimri’s family wanted to kill Pinchas, but he was fearless, for he acted only to honor Heaven. In this he was greater than Avraham Avinu at the Binding of Yitzchak. Avraham responded to Satan, “I go in my innocence,” “b’tummi ani holeich.” Pinchas did not go in “innocence,” but as a zealot, “Kana’im pogin bo.”
Although a Kohen who kills is disqualified for Service (Berachot 34b), Pinchas was granted Kehuna for killing, because, as the Seforno explains, he acted to protect Israel. Pinchas did not only act as a zealot for himself and for Heaven; even filled with the fire of zealousness, he considered the impact of his actions on the many.