• Gabbai

Pinchas – activist on steroids

We find activism to be a subject of much debate in all circles. Its the rabble rousers acting up again, the extreme folk who make us all look bad. Its those radicals who are unstoppable in their quest for publicity, irrational in their mob mentality. They stir up trouble and tie up our police forces and other resources in quelling their demonstrations. We seem to be always cleaning up the mess they make and fixing the damage from their ‘freedom of expression.’ Or, its our heros taking to the streets again, taking a stand against government catering to the wealthy, funding projects through hikes in bus fares. They are going to get the politicians to dismount from their high horses and listen to the people. They will fight for equality, stand up against corruption and ‘take our country back!’

Is activism positive or negative, helpful or harmful? The answer is yes. Activists are fanatics, lunatics, heros, martyrs, champions of human rights, perpetrators of treachery – it all depends on the circumstances and the cause they are fighting for, and, most important, whether or not I agree with their position. An activists steps into the arena and takes the flak for others who are afraid (or more pragmatic) to stand up against some wrong, whatever that may be. Inequality, government violation of citizen’s right to privacy, occupation of Palestinian territory by the Zionist regime, the religious coercion of the State, the lack of State adherence to the religious authority etc…

Excitement was high. The cult of idolatry introduced by the seductive women of Moav and Midian had taken hold of a great number of people. Pagan revelry dominated the camp while a stormy debate was taking place by the judges, the loyalists, who were ringing their hands in despair, openly weeping at the state of affairs in the camp. Shrieks of agony erupted all around from people taken by the plague, which was taking a devastating toll on the nation. In the middle of this, Pinchas stood up in jealous passion for the honor of G-d. Everyone else was either engaged in idolatry, lured by the honey traps of Midian or else too paralyzed by shock to take any action. He did something radical, taking his spear, fearlessly storming into the heart of the rebellion and killing two very important people, the judge of the tribe of Shimon and his companion, a princess of Midian. Pinchas’ act brought everything to a halt. The plague, which already claimed the lives of 24,000 people was stopped in its tracks. The cult broke up just as quickly and everybody was shaken back into their senses. Pinchas wiped the perspiration off his brow, lowered his head and quietly retired to his tent. The people, suddenly ashamed of what had happened, what they had allowed to happen, also dispersed quietly, leaving the Moabites to clean up their mess.