Does Judaism Encourage Zealotry?
It's a disturbing question: What, if anything, should we learn from Pinchas? How are we supposed to understand the sheer violence of this Parsha?
By all standards, Pinchas' zealotry stands as the total and complete antithesis of what we would call Jewish Values.
Of course, some might protest that my question arises from a misunderstanding of the Torah and Jewish Values. There are those who have suggested that the peace-loving pacifism that colors our perspective today is inauthentic – a veritable distortion of the Torah. Perhaps, they argue, the political orientation of Yiddishkeit is, at its core, more zealous, violent and aggressive than our modern sensitivities can stomach? Perhaps we only recoil from such acts as a result of many long years of exile?