Parshat Pinchas: From A to Zeal

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Cool Calm Collected
16 Jul 2008
Arts & Media







Walk with perfect posture,

Personality put out to pasture:

Upright, uptight – aligned

In perfect symmetry with

The vertical ruler that is

Necktie, but really Cravat:

Blood flow stalled, passion

Stifled, life suppressed, re-

Pressed, vitality oppressed,

Soul hard-pressed

To find


Shoes tasseled (never tussled)

Business hustled (never hassled)


Mind sharp as the pleats down the front of his trousers;

Words smooth like the starched Egyptian cotton of his cuffs;

Opinions triangulated and pointed, imitating his tabbed collars.


Not a hair misplaced atop his head;

Nor an idea misplaced in it.


Asks the dumbwaiter:

Would you like to order?

Oh, but he already is.


Still, all around winds howl and

A tempest is all the rage: screams

Pierce the quiet night like a high-

Caliber bullet meets soft flesh:

Fluid upon initial contact, jagged

On second glance, ripping straight

Through the heart and unsettling

There, lodging more than just a



A plague it is called, infectiously

Creeping along an immune system

That has long lost all its immunity

(Immorality tends to do that).


Plagued by a world that disguises its maker,

Plagued by a body that shrouds its soul,

Plagued by actions that hide its purpose –


A plague isn’t (only) something biblical:

A plague is a raging fire in a city made of

Dry straw –


And when things burn




Just ain’t gonna cut it




When he zealously avenged Me


A world on fire: flames of falseness

Spewing a very real heat and no warmth.

Children blister to ash; sackcloth today’s

School uniform.


A world on fire – and the establishment has the

Nerve to create a committee on fire, the OCPFQ

(Organization of Committees Pro Fire Quenching)

With initials and everything licensed by the CLOCI

(Committee for Licensing Official Organization Initials)

And a non-for-profit to boot, with board members driven

In chauffeured stretches, a rather long stretch of the account

Book and imagination to associate with a profitless


Bodies are burning – all that’s needed are some souls to burn back:

Zealots they are called, fanatics – simpletons fanatically dedicated

To doing good, men and women zealously driven to helping others,

Vim & Vigor:

More verve than nerve,

Fervor for a favor



I give him My covenant of peace


But how to know when fanaticism is legit

And not just, well, fanatical?


How to know when the zeal comes of peace?


It was after the plague


There are those who call themselves zealots, fanatics,

Bacteria that perpetuate plagues, sickness and evil, preaching

Death and hate because who can carve god into their

Own image and likeness any better than a false mystic?

Let us call these: Fanatics of Hate


Then there are fanatics, zealots, men who cause plagues to end,

People who search inside their souls and find the purity of the

Situation and will attack any falseness with a vengeance

Let us call these: Fanatics of Love


From A to Z:


Truth permeates throughout,

Not (just) when we want to be

Zealous (then it’s easy), but (even)

When we don’t want to, when it’s

Uncomfortable to stand for what is

True and Divine.


From A to Zeal:


A plaguing situation?

Zeal it with a kiss.

Mendel Jacobson is a writer, poet and journalist living in Brooklyn. His weekly poetry can be seen at

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.