By Jacob Salzburg

July 23, 2005 – Tamuz 16, 5765

On the Occasion of His Bar Mitzvah


Hello everyone and thank you for coming today.

I am going to explain to you what I just read out of the Torah, the holy scroll of the Jewish people.  It was about a person called Pinchas.  In order to understand who Pinchas was, we need to understand what was occurring historically at the time of Pinchas.

So to make sure all my friends are listening I want you to know that Keoni just the other day asked me, ”  So Jacob, What was occurring historically at the time of Pin chazzz.

I said no Pinchas.  And this is what I told him.

1. The Children of Israel had been wandering in the dessert for 40 years. They were approaching Mt. Sinai where God would give Moses the Ten Commandments.

The inhabitants of this area where warring against the children of Israel.

Because they could not defeat the children of Israel with physical arms of force, a tribe known as The Midyanites attempted to persuade them with the seduction of their daughters. As  the Children of Israel lost faith with God and fell for the Midyanite women, God in turn took his wrath against the Children of Israel causing a plague of death in their midst.

And then another one of my friends, Jesse, who is over there looking bored and tired and sorry he is not playing baseball today, asked me

2. Who was Pinchas-

So I told him the following:

Pinchas was the Son of Elazer, who was the son of Aaron, who was the brother of Moses. Both his Father Elazer and his Grandfather Aaron were priests. Pinchas was not in the line of priesthood because he was born before his father and grandfather were made priests by God.

3. Then another one of my friends, Max.  Hey Max stand up and wave.  He wanted to know what did Pinchas do:

So I told him:

Pinchas took a spear and rammed it through a man and women, killing them both. The man, Cozbi, was a chief of the tribe of Simon, and the woman, Zimri, was a princess of the midyanites. He killed them because they were proceeding in an immoral act that caused a plague from God on the Israelites. God rewarded Pinchas for his action by stopping the plague against the Israelites and giving Pinchas the priesthood after his father Elazar.

What was the positive aspect of Pinchas’ action?

Pinchas’ action was to stop a plague which was killing his people.

He demonstrated loyalty to god.

He risked his life by marching into a guarded tent surrounded by the chiefs loyal followers.He wasn’t seeking personal reward, and he did not enjoy embarking in this act.

The negative aspect of Pinchas’ action was:

He murdered two well respected people that were in private quarters and weren’t involved in any type of physical violence.He took the law into his own hands.He felt his opinion was right and the other was wrong.

4. How is this related to today:

Some of us may consider Pinchas’ action as extreme and fanatical. No different from any terrorist we know of today that kills or causes destruction and death of innocents. Examples are Palestinian terrorists believing they are doing what is right for their people when they blow up Israelis. Osama Bin Laden still thinks he was correct when the World Trade Centers were destroyed. He doesn’t care about us, or what the American people think is right. The assassination of Yitchak Rabin, a former Prime Minister of the State of Israel, was committed by a Jew that compared himself to Pinchas and used Pinchas’ story as his defense. But he was convicted of murder and has not stopped any plagues.

At any age or any time extreme and fanatical actions are always dangerous. There will always be differences of opinion of who is right and who is wrong.

In my life what I get out of the Pinchas story is that if I ever have to take a risk that has to do with the downfall of another person that is hurting others, I should never take pleasure in bringing that person down. The person I hurt as well as his friends, family, and supporters, will think of me as a terrorist and a careless person.  But in fact I am not because I have thought about my actions, am compelled to do them for the good of others, and seek no personal reward.

An example could be, me, you can see that I’m just a skinny little kid. Most kids at my school are bigger than me.  Some are real big guys that like to bang into people and even bully them. Some even like to push people around.  Sometimes a kid can get pushed down a flight of stairs and have his glasses broken.

I have to stand up to him whether I like it or not and tell him he’s doing wrong. If I don’t he could do worse things to others or himself. I have to demonstrate that I’m willing to deal with the consequences of his anger by opposing his wrong actions while thinking of the well being of others.

Thank you for listening to my interpretation of my torah portion. I hope that all of you know a little bit more about Jewish history. Because you’ll never guess what my friend JJ asked me yesterday. But that’s another story.

In arriving at this day as a Bar Mitzvah Boy I want to thank all the people that came from the mainland to support me on this day. To my friends and family for helping me get through my great 13 years of life. I would like to acknowledge the people who are here in spirit such as my grandma Evy and grandpa Sol who wish they could be here but are going through a tough time right now. I hope everyone here appreciates that they are healthy enough to be here. And I really want to thank with all of my heart for helping me so much this past year, my hebrew teacher, Neil Soicher. He helped me enjoy my studies and enjoy having this Bar Mitzvah. Every single second he put into helping me I appreciate so much.

So dad…Now that you don’t have to bother me about studying hebrew all the time, what are u gonna do? Hannaaaaaaaaa, your up.


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