by Rabbi David Hanania Pinto
“Pinchas son of Elazar son of Aharon the Kohen saw, and he stood up from amidst the assembly and took a spear in his hand” [Balak 25:7]
My holy forebear, Rabbi Chaim Vital, zy”a, states [Sha’arei Kedushah 1:1] that man’s body is comprised of 613 parts, corresponding to the 613 mitzvot. Each part of the body corresponds to a different mitzvah. And just as in the body there are 613 organs, so too, the neshamah contains 613 organs, paralleling the 613 mitzvot. This was very difficult for me to comprehend. The neshamah is a most elevated, spiritual entity. What connection can it have with the 613 physical parts of the body?
I thought over the matter and arrived at the conclusion that the body is physical mass. It is naturally drawn to materialism, not to mitzvot. Since the body does not want to part with its natural urges and temptations in favor of observing mitzvot, Hashem created the neshamah, corresponding to the organs of the body. The organs of the neshamah are spiritual, granting power to the body to overcome materialism and observe mitzvot. If not for these vital organs, the body would never be pulled to do mitzvot. How dreadful that would be! Hashem, Who knows our makeup, created spiritual organs in man’s neshamah. These are what motivate him to keep the mitzvot, which correspond to them.
For this reason, the pasuk [Eichah 3:23] states, “They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” The neshamah, which enters the body anew each morning, fuels it so that it can triumph over its materialistic nature and hurry to accomplish mitzvot. The neshamah, with its powers of purity, descends, sanctifying the body [see Eitz Chaim 29:3].
When Pinchas took note of what was transpiring with Zimri and the Midianite woman, he hurried to grab the spear and, sparing not a moment, killed both of them in one fell swoop. The pasuk [Balak 25:7] states, “He stood up from amidst the assembly and took a spear in his hand.” The Zohar (see III, 237a) states that the word רמח [spear] hints to the fact that Pinchas sanctified the name of Hashem with all his 248 [רמח] limbs.
The gematria of the word בידו [in his hand], adding one for the word itself, is equal to that of the word גידו [his limb]. Pinchas harnessed all his body parts for the purpose of fulfilling the injunction [Shoftim 17:7]: “You shall destroy the evil from your midst.”
From where did Pinchas gain the determination to act so zealously? It was from his neshamah, comprised of 613 organs which affect the physical organs, as explained according to Rabbi Chaim Vital, zy”a.