The Sensitivity to Lead

The Sensitivity to Lead

Jul 10, 2004 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Pinehas

From the paean of Balaam, we plummet to the apostasy at Shittim. The inconstancy of the real world quickly obscures the glimpse of perfection. The daughters of Moab, a tribe born of incest (Genesis 19:30-38), literally seduces the men of Israel into an orgy of idolatry. Enraged, God orders Moses to slay all those who have worshipped at the shrine of Baal-peor. But before Moses can mobilize his leadership, an Israelite male comes out of nowhere to fuel the rebellion by publicly taking a Medianite consort into a marriage chamber. In a burst of zeal, Pinhas, a young priest and Aaron’s grandson, runs them both through with a single thrust of his spear. The vigilante execution ends the plague that had already taken some 24,000 victims.

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Exposing Narrative Fissures

Exposing Narrative Fissures

Jul 15, 2006 By Marc Wolf | Commentary | Pinehas

As a guest columnist for the New York Times this past Friday, Judith Warner shared that her nine–year–old daughter “was terrified of narrative tension — cliffhanger pauses, unanswered questions, any sense of foreboding or even strong anticipation.”

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The Torah’s Middle Path

The Torah’s Middle Path

Jul 11, 2009 By Daniel Nevins | Commentary | Pinehas

Is there ever a discernible gap between God’s morality and the Torah, or is the Torah itself our only window into the realm of divine values? Put another way, is it permissible for a reverent Jew to challenge the morality of a law, and to base this challenge on his or her own understanding of justice and thus God’s will?

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Who Counts?

Who Counts?

Jul 3, 2010 By Judith Hauptman | Commentary | Pinehas

We all filled out census forms this year, as stipulated by the United States constitution. The closing date was March 31. My twin sons, who were born on March 30, 1980, were included in that year’s census as one-day-old babies. I sometimes joke that they burst out of the womb seven weeks early just so that they could be counted. The Bible, however, does not count children.

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How We Ascend the Mountain

How We Ascend the Mountain

Jul 19, 2008 By Lisa Gelber | Commentary | Pinehas

Not long ago, I set out in the middle of the night to ascend Haleakala, known as the world’s largest dormant volcano (actually, it’s not really a volcano, but that’s another conversation entirely).

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Choosing Love and Life

Choosing Love and Life

Jul 14, 2012 By Andrew Shugerman | Commentary | Pinehas | Tishah Be'av

Every summer I find striking the juxtaposition of Parashat Pinhas with its place in our calendar. This portion either soon follows (as it does this year) or immediately precedes 17 Tammuz. We always read the complete description of the biblical holidays’ offerings with the calamities listed above also in mind. This litany of misfortunes does not only include those related to the end of Temple-based worship; it also locates within the Torah the origin of each of these infamous dates observed as fast days. Those interpretations teach a deeper lesson about Jewish unity when considered with this week’s Torah portion and current events.

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The Importance of Constructive Action

The Importance of Constructive Action

Jul 11, 2014 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Pinehas

Recall the troubling and cryptic episode at the conclusion of last week’s parashah: the Israelites encamp at Shittim; they are seduced by Moabite women and attach themselves to an idolatrous cult of Ba‘al Pe‘or.

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The Seasons of God

The Seasons of God

Jul 10, 2015 By Nancy Abramson | Commentary | Pinehas

Parashat Pinehas is one of several instances in the Torah in which the holidays and their sacrifices are described. In Leviticus, we read the verse, “These are the fixed seasons of God, which you shall proclaim as sacred occasions;” (23:4) a prelude to the descriptions of festival practices with particular emphasis on the offerings made by the kohanim (priests). Here in Pinehas, the Torah lays out the religious calendar as a catalogue of these public sacrifices (Num. 28:1–29:39), which forms the maftir Torah reading for each festival.

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Singing about Sacrifice

Singing about Sacrifice

Apr 16, 2011 By Judith Hauptman | Commentary | Pinehas

When I attended junior congregation as a child, one of my favorite Shabbat morning songs began with the words uv’yom haShabbat. We kids used to belt it out. I remember the same thing happening when I spent summers as a camper at Camp Ramah in the Poconos. But why sing today about slaughtering and offering up lambs on the altar in the Temple? An answer can be found in this week’s Parashat Pinhas, where these words, or rather these verses, originate.

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Zealotry, Good and Bad

Zealotry, Good and Bad

Jun 25, 2013 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Pinehas

At the end of Parashat Balak, we are introduced to the extreme character of Pinehas.

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