Peace and Violence
By Moshe Katz

June 15, 2013

Looking ahead at next week's Torah portion (Biblical reading), Pinhas, a powerful message hits me. It is a Krav Maga message.

There had been a plague among the Children of Israel. It was caused by the daughters of the nations of Moab and Midyan, who, unable to defeat Israel in battle decided to send their daughters to seduce and distract the men of Israel. Nature took its course and this led to tragedy.

Pinhas rose up, took a spear, and killed a couple who had been transgressing. Pinhas had no time to consult with the Hebrew leadership, he realized that this seduction was causing a national disaster and a threat to the entire nation of Israel, and he had to act fast.

He killed for peace.

We do everything humanly possible to avoid violence. In Jewish law and tradition every possible effort is made to find a man innocent and to give him another chance, but when there is no choice, then violence is the path to peace. Similarly in our Krav Maga; violence is always the last option; after all other possible solutions have been totally exhausted.

The continuation, BaMidbar, Chapter 25, starting with verse 10, is a bit shocking. Pinhas the Cohen is rewarded for this act of violence and he is given a covenant of peace. God says, you have taken the correct action and prevented worse damage, you have calmed the situation by your swift actions and for this I give you and all your descendants my covenant of peace for eternity.

Pinhas is given "Brith Cehunat Olam", the covenant of the Cohen clan for ever.

Pinhas is my direct ancestor; this event must have taken place about 3,300 years ago. The Cohen line has had special privileges and obligations since then.

Pinhas son of Elazar son of Aharon the Cohen (the Priest) took swift action. His motivation was peace. His motivation was the nation of Israel and our future. His intention here is more important than his violent action. For this he and all his descendants, the Cohen Clan, have been given the covenant of peace. 

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