In the Face of Violence, a Covenant of Peace

In the Face of Violence, a Covenant of Peace

Jul 2, 2021 By Marc Gary | Commentary | Pinehas

Karen Armstrong, the scholar of religion and popular author of such works as The History of God, relates that wherever she travels, she is often confronted by someone—a taxi driver, an Oxford academic, an American psychiatrist—who confidently expresses the view that “religion has caused more violence and wars than anything else.” This is quite a remarkable statement given that in the last century alone, tens of millions of people have been killed in two world wars, the communist purges in the Soviet Union and its satellites, and the Cambodian killing fields of the Khmer Rouge, none of which were caused by religious motivations.

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The Courage to Not Know

The Courage to Not Know

Jul 10, 2020 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Pinehas

If there is a moment of heroism in Parashat Pinehas, it is when the daughters of Zelophahad stand before Moses. Living in the patriarchal world of biblical Israel, they arrive at a defining juncture. Their father, Zelophahad, dies, leaving no sons to inherit or perpetuate his name. While the daughters could have simply accepted the reality of patriarchal inheritance, they bravely choose another path. Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah approach Moshe explaining, “Let not our father’s name be lost to his clan just because he had no sons! Give us a holding among our father’s kinsmen!” (Num. 27:4). The reader of Torah cannot help but embrace this gesture with a sense of awe. What trepidation—and gumption—must have been involved in the decision to bring their case before the leader of the fledgling nation of Israel!

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In the Face of Violence, a Covenant of Peace

In the Face of Violence, a Covenant of Peace

Jul 26, 2019 By Marc Gary | Commentary | Pinehas

Karen Armstrong, the scholar of religion and popular author of such works as The History of God, relates that wherever she travels, she is often confronted by someone—a taxi driver, an Oxford academic, an American psychiatrist—who confidently expresses the view that “religion has caused more violence and wars than anything else.” This is quite a remarkable statement given that in the last century alone, tens of millions of people have been killed in two world wars, the communist purges in the Soviet Union and its satellites, and the Cambodian killing fields of the Khmer Rouge, none of which were caused by religious motivations.

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First and second haftarot of rebuke

First and second haftarot of rebuke

Jul 6, 2018 By Jan Uhrbach | Commentary | Masei | Mattot | Pinehas | Tishah Be'av

Chapters 1 and 2 of Jeremiah constitute the first two haftarot of “calamity” or rebuke. In them, the prophet anticipates disorienting but necessary societal upheaval; he is called “to uproot and pull down, destroy and overthrow,” and also “to build and to plant.” 

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Charismatic Saint or Reckless Vigilante? Pinehas and the Covenant of Peace

Charismatic Saint or Reckless Vigilante? Pinehas and the Covenant of Peace

Jul 6, 2018 By Hillel Ben Sasson | Commentary | Pinehas

Along with Simeon and Levi, who raged against Shekhem and his people in response to defilement of their sister Dina’s dignity, the figure of Pinehas has become synonymous with decisive and unforgiving zealotry. In the face of growing sexual promiscuity within the Israelite desert camp, and against the backdrop of a crippled and confused leadership headed by Moses, Pinehas took action.

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I Will Get Back Up Again

I Will Get Back Up Again

Jul 14, 2017 By Stephanie Ruskay | Commentary | Pinehas

“What does your dad do at Google?”

One of our JustCity Leadership Institute pre-college program students explained that her mother works at Google in a significant leadership position. Yet each time she wears a Google T-shirt, people ask her what her father does there.

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Fearless Women

Fearless Women

Jul 14, 2017 By Meredith Katz | Commentary | Pinehas

Many narratives coalesce in Parashat Pinehas, and it is challenging to review without connection to the current political and social climate. The daughters of Zelophehad make a proposal to inherit their father’s portion, as part of a land division framework aiming toward equality: “to the more thou shalt give the more inheritance, and to the fewer thou shalt give the less inheritance.” The daughters raise their claim with Moses et al. as women, demanding their right to inherit in the absence of any sons, a significant step for women in ancient times that is then added to the canon.

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A New Rabbi in 17th-Century Italy

A New Rabbi in 17th-Century Italy

Jul 29, 2016 By The Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary | Commentary | Pinehas

Reminded that he will not be permitted to lead the people into the Land of Israel, Moses asks God to appoint a successor for him. God instructs Moses:

Single out Joshua son of Nun, an inspired man, and lay your hand upon him. Have him stand before Eleazar the priest and before the whole community, and commission him in their sight. Invest him with some of your authority, so that the whole Israelite community may obey. (Num. 27:18–20)

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Law as Response to Its Context

Law as Response to Its Context

Jul 29, 2016 By Jonathan Milgram | Commentary | Pinehas

What social and economic criteria demand a reevaluation—or perhaps even redefinition—of divine law? How does Jewish legal development through the ages illustrate the interrelationship between God and the Jewish people that results in new and relevant Jewish laws? The analysis of one element in parashat Pinehasinheritance by daughters—teaches that, at times, the Jewish people’s response to the divine call may be determined by the social and economic contexts, resulting in a reframing of the divine message for a new age.

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Justice and Mercy

Justice and Mercy

Jul 16, 2011 By Abigail Treu | Commentary | Text Study | Pinehas

The feminist in me adores this midrash: a tannaitic (first- or second-century CE) work acknowledging misogyny and extolling the women in this week’s parashah who appeal to a gender-blind God for mercy. With ever-present news stories of the gender-based gap in wages and job retention, the plea of the daughters of Zelophehad is still relevant.

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