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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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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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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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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Succeeding Moses

Succeeding Moses

Jul 10, 2004 By Lewis Warshauer | Commentary | Pinehas

The Five Books of Moses bears this title because of the prominence of the man, Moses. Those who accept the traditional view of the origin of the Torah, also accept this nomenclature as a matter of course. Moses transmitted the Torah to his people and taught it to them. However, not accepting this view of the Torah’s origin does not in any way diminish the role of Moses in telling the narrative of the Torah. He is the central human character in every book, starting with Exodus.

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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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A Man of Spirit

A Man of Spirit

Jul 19, 2003 By Lauren Eichler Berkun | Commentary | Pinehas

Who is worthy of assuming Moses’ mantle and carrying the Children of Israel across the Jordan into the Promised Land? We learn this week that it shall be Joshua son of Nun. The description of the immanent transfer of power from Moses to Joshua provides a fascinating commentary on the nature of leadership.

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A Lesson on Leadership

A Lesson on Leadership

Jun 29, 2002 By Melissa Crespy | Commentary | Pinehas

World leaders are much in the news these days in France, in India and Pakistan, and of course in the US and in the Middle East. These leaders are being scrutinized every day for their actions or lack of action, for the quality of their character and for their ability to lead their people. Undoubtedly, ;a poll on their effectiveness as leaders would yield varying opinions, but our parashah this week gives us insight into some qualities that a leader should possess.

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Extremes of Leadership

Extremes of Leadership

Jun 29, 2002 By Lewis Warshauer | Commentary | Pinehas

The Torah is a book of contrasts, of frequent and even wild swings between extremes — extremes of points of view and extremes of behavior. For a quick shift between extremes of points of view, one need look no farther than the opening words of Genesis. We see at first nothing but darkness. We hear the words, “Let there be light”, and soon, light is over all.

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Good in the Face of Evil

Good in the Face of Evil

Sep 27, 2001 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Aharei Mot | Pinehas | Yom Kippur

Recent events infuse words long cherished with unexpected meaning. In the days of the Temple, the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies but once a year on Yom Kippur. As the repository for the Torah, it precluded easy access.

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Linguistic Fossils

Linguistic Fossils

Jul 14, 2001 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Pinehas

Fossils come in different forms. Those buried in the earth have vastly expanded our conception of time and the evolution of life. Those imbedded in the language we speak are closer to our daily experience and barely noticed. Despite the change in world view, these linguistic fossils persist because they are concrete, vivid and emotionally satisfying. Thus a current TV sitcom about a happily married minister with seven children can sport the name Seventh Heaven, though no one holds any longer the medieval notion that the earth sits at the center of a cosmos surrounded by seven firmaments. Two other examples of idioms that have outlasted their origins: “To placate the gods” we would be ready to go to “the ends of the earth.”

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Between Zealotry and Peace

Between Zealotry and Peace

Jul 22, 2000 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Pinehas

This week, we read the first of three “haftarot of rebuke” which precede Tisha B’av. Even though this Haftorah is ordinarily associated with Mattot, Mattot is read as the first half of a double–portion this year. We read this haftorah a week “early” to be sure we don’t miss it.

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Entering the Covenant

Entering the Covenant

Jul 3, 1999 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Pinehas

This past Shabbat the Schorsch family celebrated the bris of their seventh grandchild. The previous Shabbat, our younger daughter had given birth to her second child. Once again we made use of the small, faded blue velvet kippah, hand sewn and embossed with my Hebrew name by my father’s artist friend in Germany, Fanny Dessau. As it covered my head at my bris, it has now graced the bris of our son and that of three out of four of our grandsons. To me, it is not just a treasured artifact of family pride, but also a symbol of just how valuable is the transmission of consciousness and culture from one generation to the next.

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The Pursuit of Peace

The Pursuit of Peace

Jul 2, 1995 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Pinehas | Sukkot

Experience often has a way of eroding our ideals. While the evidence for this sad fact abounds, I wish to illustrate it anew in the exegetical fate of a passage in this week’s parasha. The parasha concludes with a succinct statement of the sacrifices to be offered in the Tabernacle throughout the year.

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Strengthening Judaism

Strengthening Judaism

Jul 2, 1994 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Pinehas

In 1962 I graduated rabbinical school and entered the army for a two-year stint as a chaplain. Such national service was then still required of all JTS graduates before they could take a pulpit. After completing chaplaincy school in New York, I drove to my first assignment at Fort Dix, New Jersey. I arrived in the late afternoon and decided to visit the Jewish chapel where I would preside without delay. That was my first mistake.

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Pinehas

Pinehas

Jan 1, 1980

46 The hand of the Lord had come upon Elijah. He tied up his skirts and ran in front of Ahab all the way to Jezreel.

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Pinehas

Pinehas

Jan 1, 1980

10 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 11 “Phinehas, son of Eleazar son of Aaron the priest, has turned back My wrath from the Israelites by displaying among them his passion for Me, so that I did not wipe out the Israelite people in My passion.

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