For me to say that Pinchas epitomizes the concept of a “man of action” is nothing new. Faced with a constellation of horrifying events – a plague decimating the tribes in the desert, rampant immorality spreading across the population, and the blatant desecration of the space God had designated as Kodesh (more than “holy”, the word carries the idea of being “separate, elevated, in a class of its own”) by a leader of the tribes, which would only serve as an example to others and begin a cascade of horrible behavior – faced with that set of events, Pinchas determined the fastest and most correct way to halt the crisis.
Even though it meant having to make horrifying choices of his own, Pinchas acted swiftly and decisively. Torah records that God rewarded him with an elevated status, and we students of Torah have debated the meaning of that reward ever since.
Such is the fate of all true (meaning real-world) heroes, versus the likes of Captain America and Wonder Woman, who also act decisively but whose judgement we rarely question. Pretend heroes get a pass. Real life ones rarely do.
And therein lies the lesson within the lesson for those of us who strive to be act-ors in our own real-life struggles. No matter how decisively we act, our feelings about our decisions are rarely as clear-cut. And even if they are, the view others take is even less so.
Knowing that this is going to happen is the key. It is the same side of the same coin as bravery. Those who act bravely rarely feel brave in the moment. They are just ask scared as anyone else. Equally true is that those who act decisively rarely feel decisive, they are just as conflicted as the rest of us.
It is their action that sets them apart.
In these days of introspection before we stand before He Who Decides our fate, may we all find the strength of character to commit to acting without hesitation when necessary.