Pinchas - Uprooting Sinful Thoughts

Distress the Midianites, and you shall smite them.
צָרוֹר אֶת הַמִּדְיָנִים וְהִכִּיתֶם אוֹתָם

Bamidbar 25:17
The Slonimer Rebbe in The Netivot Shalom raises a question from The Or HaChaim HaKadosh. Why does this parshah put this injunction here to 'distress the Midianites', since the actual war against the Midianites takes place in next week's parshah Mattot?
"Take revenge for the children of Israel against the Midianites; afterwards you will be gathered to your people."
נְקֹם נִקְמַת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל מֵאֵת הַמִּדְיָנִים אַחַר תֵּאָסֵף אֶל עַמֶּיךָ

Bamidbar 31:2 (Parsha Mattot)

The Threat
The Slonimer Rebbe explains that the greatest adversaries to face Israel yet were Bilaam and Balak. They sought to destroy the Jewish people, but stepping up to this task they realized that the relationship that the Jewish People enjoyed with Hashem prevented them from taking any action against the Jewish People. This was an important discovery and lead to the natural conclusion that if the connection between the Jewish People and Hashem prevented harm to the Jewish People, then that relationship needed to be undermined.

This lead to two pronged attack of sending the Midianite women to seduce the Jewish men and to lure the Jewish people into idolatry by bringing them to worship the Baal Pe'or. These entities served Bilaam and Balak well wedging themselves between the Jewish People and Hashem, and weakening the connection that the Jewish People enjoyed with Hashem.

Hate Evil
Following these events comes the statement from Hashem to "distress the Midianites". The Slonimer Rebbe references the Or HaChaim Hakadosh, saying that this statement comes to tell us that we must hate evil, and hate those that caused us to sin. As it says in Tehillim:
Did I not hate Your enemies, O L-rd? With those who rise up against You, I quarrel.
הֲלוֹא מְשַׂנְאֶיךָ ה'  אֶשְׂנָא וּבִתְקוֹמְמֶיךָ אֶתְקוֹטָט

Tehilim 139:21
That is to say 'enemies' are those that cause you to hate good. That is to say, that as long as we do not separate ourselves completely from sin, then the desire for that sin remains, undermining the effort of full repentance. Thus the guide to full repentance, as we will see, is to 'distress the Midianites.'

An Injunction?
Rashi points a particular point about the specific language used in this verse.
Distress: Heb. צָרוֹר, like זָכוֹר, ‘remember,’ (Exod. 20:8), and שָׁמוֹר, ‘keep’ (Deut. 5:12); a term describing a continual action [as if to say,] You must [constantly] show hostility toward them.
If this were an injunction then the verse should have be written as "תצרור" giving Am Yisrael a specific action to undertake. As Rashi says, this is a constant state. So it is less about a specific action to be actually taken on the Midianite people, but rather about encouraging a state of mind vis a vis the Midianite people. Rather than just making a change, or stopping an action, we have to be vigilante in our mindset.

Evil Inclination
The power of the Yetzer Harah (the Evil Inclination) is that it injects into people desires and passions for sin, and actually mentally sets-up the experience of the sin. This puts us in the position so that when the sin actually falls into our hands (or that we fall into the circumstances to commit the sin) we have been well prepared and are hopelessly weakened to be at the mercy of the sin.

Thus the reaction needs to be embolden and strengthen ourselves in the face of these thoughts, and distance ourselves from these desires. For only by destroying the thoughts that drive us toward the sin, can we ultimately undo the power of the sin.

The Meaning of Continual State of Mind
This is the meaning of 'distress the Midianites and what it is doing in this week's parshah. For despite the fact that the actual revenge wrought upon the Midianites is undertaken in next week's parshah, Mattot, here the Torah is focusing on the essence of the sin, and it's nascent source. This act of overturning the thoughts driving the sin is essential for repentance, tshuvah.

A Path to Perfect Tshuvah
In this week's parshah, the Torah teaches us about the path to perfecting tshuvah. By Jews, there are many times to do tshuvah, however this week's parshah wants to convey that even after carrying out tshuvah, all the while that we don't detest that evil that brought to sin, the tshuvah is not complete.

That is the meaning of "distress the Midianites" for even for the Jew that keeps all the mitzvot, the Torah is saying with this statement that we must despise the sin and the things that drove us to undertake this sin. This is not an action in and of itself but a condition. This is the critical condition necessary for completely the process of tshuvah. For just as we learned the importance of Love your fellow like yourself, can actually enhance our connection with Hashem and bring us closer, the opposite - Hate - can push us further away. So all the while that we don't despise evil, and push it out of our lives, we are still connected to evil, and thus our sin.

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