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The Parsha of Pinchas starts with:

"And Hashem spoke to Moshe saying: Pinchas Ben Elazar Ben Aharon Hakohain, (Pinchas, the son of Elazar, the son of Aharon the Kohain), turned My anger away from the Children of Israel b'kano es kin'asi (in that he was jealous for My sake and avenged my vengeance). [25:10-11]"

At the end of last week's Parsha, Pinchas comes forward to sanctify Hashem's name and in his merit the terrible plague that was ravaging the camp of Bnei Yisroel was stopped.

There are only five Parshiot in the Torah that bear the name of a person, and each teaches us a very important lesson about that person. It is interesting that this week's Parsha is named for Pinchas who was a very great tzaddik, while the Parsha right before this is called Balak, after the king of Moav who was not a good person. (Why? - That's a different Midrash).

There must be something significant that we can learn by comparing Pinchas to Balak.

When Balak sensed that the Jewish people were threatening to destroy his nation, he didn't spring into action, but rather hired other people (Bilam and the people of Midyan) to try to stop the Bnei Yisroel. We see here what a lazy person Balak was.

On the contrary, Pinchas was a "doer." When there was a call for action, he immediately stepped in to do what had to be done. He didn't wait for someone else to come along and try to save his people - he felt the responsibility was his.

Pinchas personified what Hillel Hazakayn (the Elder) teaches in Pirkei Avot, Perek 2, Mishna 5:

"B'makom Sh'ayn A'nashim, Hishtadel L'hiyot Ish."

"In a situation where there are no leaders, try to be the leader."

"Pinchas Ben Elazar Ben Aharon Hakohain, (Pinchas, the son of Elazar, the son of Aharon the Kohain)."

Why does the Torah need to list Pinchas's yichus (lineage) all the way back to Aharon Hakohain?

There were some people in Bnei Yisroel who weren't happy that Pinchas took revenge against Zimri in order to sanctify the name of Hashem. They therefore embarrassed him and poked fun at the fact that his mother was a descendant of Yitro (the father-in-law of Moshe) who was known to be a priest for idol worshippers before he converted to Judaism. The Shevatim (tribes) were suspicious of Pinchas, saying that he killed Zimri because the trait of cruelty was embedded in him from his idol-worshipping ancestors.

Therefore, the Torah wanted to focus on Pinchas' great grandfather, Aharon Hakohain, who was known to be a person who ran after peace. (Ohaiv Sholom V'rodaif Sholom). The Torah traces the lineage of Pinchas back to Aharon, about whom Hillel said in Pirkei Avot, (1:12), "Be of the disciples of Aharon, loving peace and pursuing peace, loving people, and bringing them closer to the Torah."

Pinchas inherited this trait from Aharon, and when he took revenge for Hashem it was only in order to restore peace and the honor of Hashem.

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