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G-d’s higher plan

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“Pick me … please!”

When I was at high school, I wasn’t much of a sportsman. I clearly remember how the selection process for soccer practice would take place every break. The two captains would slowly choose players from those on my left and those on my right, and when I was the only one left to be picked, they would fight over me. The one would say, “You take Goldstein,” and the other would say: “No, you take Goldstein.”

I don’t think that daily occurrence messed me up too badly. I always had a feeling that I would be chosen for greater things. In some way, it led me to a life of community and joining the rabbinate – where soccer skills aren’t a deciding factor – to empathise with others, and try to inspire and motivate people.

I believe that on some level, my little story is echoed behind the scenes in this week’s parsha.

Pinchas came from the illustrious family of Aharon the kohen gadol. His great-uncle was the great Moshe Rabbeinu. His father, Elazar, was the future kohen gadol, and his uncles were great leaders of the Jewish people. When Hashem stripped the priesthood from the firstborns because of their involvement with the golden calf, He chose the family of Aharon in their stead, making them all kohanim; all the sons and the future generations that would be born afterwards. Only one person was seemingly overlooked – poor Pinchas was already born at that time and wasn’t made a kohen, no reasons given. He must have felt like the black sheep of the family.

Imagine the scene 40 years later. Pinchas witnesses a terrible public desecration of Hashem’s name. Moshe stands dumbfounded, while the head of the tribe of Shimon acts immorally with a Midianite woman. Imagine what was going through Pinchas’ head. He could have smirked upwards to G-d and thought, “How do you like the feeling?” But he doesn’t entertain such thoughts. The Torah tells us that he ended the desecration of Hashem’s name by impaling the two sinners on his spear!

That was the greatness of Pinchas. His reward was to become a kohen gadol later on in Jewish history, and he was given the gift of immortality as Eliyahu Hanavi. Had he killed them as a kohen, he would have lost his priesthood, as the halacha dictates.

In our lives, let’s not believe that Hashem is short-changing us. In reality, He’s saving us for something much greater!

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