17. Rabbi Yesa began: "By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, we also wept, when we remembered Zion" (Tehilim 137:1). HE ASKS, should it not have said Jerusalem since it is written, "If I forget you, Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its cunning" (Ibid. 5). Why then, "when we remembered Zion?" AND HE ANSWERS: IT IS LIKE a man who had a precious and beautiful palace, and robbers came and burned it down. Whose is the anguish IF not that of the palace owner? Here also, whose anguish is it that the Shechinah is in exile, if not that of the Righteous, NAMELY YESOD? And this fits in with what they taught, as it is written: "The righteous perishes" (Yeshayah 57:1) literally, perished. FOR THE WHOLE PURPOSE OF YESOD IS TO BESTOW. BUT IF THE SHECHINAH IS IN EXILE HE HAS NO ONE TO BESTOW UPON, AND THEREFORE IT IS AS IF IT DOES NOT EXIST, BUT HAD PERISHED. Here also, "when we remembered Zion," MEANS when we remembered the anguish OF ZION, WHICH IS YESOD, because of its LACK OF mating, for the anguish is indeed his.
18. Rabbi Yesa said: Whoever respects the name of his Master in this matter, and keeps THE COVENANT, is privileged to have his Master respect him over all. How do we know this? Because regarding Joseph, it is written, "And he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had... and made him ruler over all the land of Egypt" (Beresheet 41:43). Furthermore, when Yisrael crossed the sea, Joseph's coffin entered the water first and the waters in front of it were unable to stay as they were. Therefore it is written, "The sea saw it, and fled" (Tehilim 114:3). What is the meaning of "and fled?" The sea saw him about whom this is written, "and fled, and went outside" (Beresheet 39:12).
19. Come and see: He was honored in his life and honored in his death. Why in his life? Because during that time he did not want to cleave TO POTIPHAR'S WIFE, as it is written: "But he refused, and said to his master's wife..." (Ibid. 8), and, "that he hearkened not to her, to lie by her, or to be with her" (Ibid. 10). For this reason he was honored in this world. Since it is written, "And she caught him by his garment...and he fled, and went outside," BECAUSE OF THAT he earned entry after HIS DEMISE into the heavenly curtain THAT IS IN THE SANCTUARY OF THE HOLY OF HOLIES. And so it was befitting to him, RESULTING that he received his due in this world and in the other world.
20. Pinchas was privileged in this world and in the World to Come, and meritted to live and exist longer than all those who came out of Egypt. He also merited to serve as High Priest, both he and all his descendants after him. You may argue that he earned priesthood only after this act. However, this is incorrect, there are those who say that he had earned the priesthood previously. If so, how should we understand the words, "because he was zealous for his Elohim" (Bemidbar 25:13), which meaning is that he earned the priesthood because of this deed and had not gained it previously?
21. HE RESPONDS: come and see, any priest who kills a person is considered forever unfit for the priesthood because he has marred his own level, BECAUSE PRIESTHOOD IS THE LEVEL OF CHESED AND KILLING A PERSON IS ITS OPPOSITION. SINCE Pinchas HAD KILLED ZIMRI AND COZBI, he was legally barred from remaining a priest. But because he was zealous for the Holy One, blessed be He, He had to reinstate him, and also his seed after him for all time, into the priesthood. THIS IS THE MEANING OF THE WORDS, "BECAUSE HE WAS ZEALOUS FOR HIS ELOHIM." Rabbi Yitzchak said, Come and see: Pinchas is recorded above and below. ABOVE MEANS before he came into the world BELOW, is as he was among those who came out of Egypt.
22. Rabbi Elazar, Rabbi Yosi, and Rabbi Chiya were walking in the wilderness. Rabbi Yosi said, This that is written concerning Pinchas, "Behold I give him My covenant of peace" (Ibid. 12), refers to peace from the Angel of Death, the Angel who will never have control over him or have power to judge him. If you were to suggest that he did not die, you would be mistaken. HE DID DIE but certainly not in the same way as others do and he lived longer than all the other members of his generation because he held on to that heavenly covenant. And when he did leave this world he departed from other people with a supreme longing and with wonderful devoutness.