“I give [Pinchas] my covenant of peace.” (Numbers 25:12)
Pinchas received this “covenant of peace” from God for murdering a Moabite woman and an Israelite man who were “misbehaving” at the entry to the Tent of Meeting. This zealous act in the name of God appeased God’s anger, and prevented a greater outbreak of divine death and destruction onto the Israelites.
We struggle with this because on the surface it seems to teach that violence in the name of God is a good thing.
The Torah text, in the actual scroll, records the word “peace”, “shalom” in Hebrew, with a partial letter, half of the letter “vav” is unwritten.
The scribes who created a standardized Hebrew text for our holiest scripture made sure that their feelings, their struggles with the text, were included as well. Real issues deserve struggle and we wrestle with Torah, accepting that the point of our holiest texts is to raise serious questions
Wishing you a wonderful week
Rabbi Freirich serves as Rabbi at Temple Beth Zion