“… he zealously avenged My vengeance among them, so that I did not destroy Bnei Yisrael in My vengeance” (Bamidbar 25:11).
The main reason why Pinchas merited such a great reward — a “covenant of peace” — was because he did something that was actually meant for HaKadosh Baruch Hu to do.
The Gemara says: Turnus Rufus the wicked asked Rabi Akiva, “If your G-d loves the poor, why doesn’t He provide for them?” He answered him, “So that through them, we shall be saved from the judgment of Gehinnom.” From Rabi Akiva’s answer, we learn that indeed it is Hashem Who would feed the poor, but He puts this task upon people so that they merit great reward. (Rav Moshe Feinstein, Doresh Moshe)
It’s 1:30 in the afternoon on a long, hot day of summer vacation.
Everybody’s edgy. Nobody wants a hot lunch, no matter how hard you’ve worked over it. They want a Popsicle from the freezer. They’re complaining about all the annoying things that happened in day camp. Your high school daughter is absent from the table, glued to the phone.
With great effort, you gather the remnants of your composure, put the pot of chicken and rice back into the fridge, cut up a cold salad, and pour juice. With one hand, you burrow into a pile of clothes, looking for socks. With the other hand, you wash a pair of sticky, blackened hands. (Did he pat every parked car on the way home?!)With one eye, you try to peruse the note about what to bring to day camp the next day. With the other, you spot your teenager getting off the phone. She’s going on a trip tomorrow with her cousins. Wonderful. “Mommy, where’s the blue tote bag? And Aunt Bracha asked if you could phone. And …”
Aunt Bracha. Your younger sister works in an office every day till four. What’s she doing now?
She’s probably having a coffee break in her air-conditioned office. She’s not being attacked by a horde of hot, sticky children, draining all her strength. And are her children left to wander the streets? Far from it. Two are in day camp. One daughter is a counselor, and the other is old enough to find her own socks when she needs them.
I’m the only one left looking for another pair of hands to get everything done.
To give nachas to my Creator.
It’s comparable to a small child who wants to help his mother carry a heavy load. She gives him something small to carry. The truth is that he’s not helping her at all, since her load hasn’t become significantly lighter. But despite knowing this, the child wants to help. This shows the love he feels for his mother. So too, with the mitzvah of tzedakah. When a person does what Hashem would have done, He has great nachas from this. (ibid.)
“The cemeteries are full of people who thought the world couldn’t manage without them.” How true this saying is, and how vicious.
Hashem doesn’t need my toiling hands in order for my children to eat. If I decide to work in an office every day until four, or to go off on vacation, my children wouldn’t be wandering in the streets. They would manage, like Bracha’s children manage. They would manage, because I’m not the one who’s seeing to their welfare; Hashem is. Because these children are His, and whatever they will or won’t have is only at His decree.
So what purpose do I have?
The merit to be a partner in endless Divine giving. Even 1,000 years of lying in the cemetery won’t take that merit away from me.
We see this concept in the mitzvah of milah as well. From the perspective of perfection, an infant ought to be born circumcised. Nevertheless, Chazal tell us that Hashem wants human beings to complete and to perfect His works.
That’s why milah is called “the seal of the holy covenant.” When a person “seals” Hashem’s work, it is very beloved to Him. (ibid.)
My husband won’t starve if I don’t invest thought and effort in preparing a nutritious lunch for him to take with him. My eight-year-old will amuse herself during the long, hot afternoons even if I don’t sit with her, sewing rag dolls.
But I did do all those things! I was the conduit of the abundance, the one who cooked and pasted eyes onto the stocking-doll.
Thank You, Hashem, for allowing me the merit of creating angels with my ten fingers.