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Pinchas Summaries

Pinchas 5778-2018

“Pinchas the Zealot?” 

Pinchas is not rewarded for taking the lives of those who performed the public act of harlotry. It is only Pinchas’ courage to sacrifice everything meaningful in his life in order to stand up for the

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Pinchas 5777-2017

“Pinchas and King David”

While both Pinchas and King David killed in the name of G-d to bring sanctity into G-d’s world, only Pinchas was rewarded immediately with the eternal covenant of the priesthood. King David, on the other hand, was denied the right to build the Temple in Jerusalem.

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Pinchas 5776-2016

“Pinchas the Zealot, and King David”

Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik explains why Pinchas the zealot, who had blood on his hands, was allowed to serve in the Holy Tabernacle as a priest, while King David was not permitted to build the Temple in Jerusalem.

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Pinchas 5775-2015

“Learning by Example”

Role models can serve as sources of inspiration, for both good and evil. The zealous actions of Pinchas can be traced back to the heroic actions of his grandfather Aaron.

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Pinchas 5774-2014

“The Battle for Women’s Rights”

Especially among those who have limited familiarity with the original scriptural sources, it is often perceived that women are regarded by Jewish tradition as being submissive and subservient to men, eager to fulfill the men’s will. Rabbi Yaakov Philber shows that this is a thoroughly incorrect perception.

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Pinchas 5773-2013

“The Lesson of the Broken Vav

A most unusual scriptural anomaly is found in the verse in which G-d confers upon the zealous Pinchas the blessing of a “Covenant of Peace.” The letter “vav” in the Hebrew word “Shalom,” peace, is broken. What is the reason for this broken letter?

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Pinchas 5772-2012

“Transferring Power”

Some of the commentators suggest that Joshua was not the only candidate to succeed Moses as leader. Some even suggest that Joshua was not even Moses’ first choice. Why then was he chosen?

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Pinchas 5771-2011

“‘Pinchas’–What’s in a Name?”

Throughout the Torah, the name of a parasha often reflects many, if not most, of the themes found in that particular weekly Torah portion. The story of Pinchas and his G-dly reward, however, is only a very small portion of this week’s parasha. How then is the name parashat “Pinchas” justified?

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Pinchas 5770-2010

“The Colorful Biography of Pinchas”

Although Pinchas, the son of Elazar the priest, is widely known for his zealotry, he has an astonishing record of achievement that is not widely known. The Talmud and Midrash generously amplify on Pinchas’ colorful resume.

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Pinchas 5769-2009

“Joshua, the Worthy Successor”

In parashat Pinchas, Moses asks G-d to designate a successor to serve the future generation. Joshua is chosen. Who is Joshua, and why was he chosen to succeed the great Moses?

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Pinchas 5768-2008

“The Zealotry of Pinchas as seen through the Midrash”

The vast majority of the people of Israel rejected Pinchas for his act of zealotry when he stabbed Zimri and Cozbi as they performed an act of public harlotry. Pinchas’ life of hardship is revealed to us through the extensive Midrash cited by the great scholar Eliyahu Kitov.

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Pinchas 5767-2007

“Rosh Chodesh, the Modest Holiday”

The two concluding chapters of Parashat Pinchas detail the supplementary offerings that were brought on festivals and holidays. Included in this list is the offering for Rosh Chodesh, the New Moon. The New Moon plays a crucial symbolic role for the Jewish people. It was the establishment of the calendar based on the New Moon that made it possible for the Jewish people to continue their observances, despite our enemies’ unremitting efforts to undermine them.

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Pinchas 5766-2006

“The ‘Zealotry’ of Pinchas”

Seemingly out of the shadows emerges a controversial hero, Pinchas, who slays Cozbi and Zimri, two “high profile” individuals who publicly perform a lewd sexual act. Only a man like Pinchas, who had himself suffered a lifetime of ridicule and rejection, could have mustered the courage to stand up and defend the great Moses who was being subjected to ridicule and rejection.

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Pinchas 5765-2005

“Whatever Became of the Sons of Korach?”

Appearing very much out of place in parashat Pinchas is a verse that informs us that the sons of Korach did not die. What was their fate, and how did they save themselves? What lessons may contemporaries learn from their actions?

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Pinchas 5764-2004

“The Conundrum of Pinchas: Do His Actions Set an Unacceptable Precedent?”

In parashat Pinchas, the Al-mighty praises Pinchas, the son of Elazar and grandson of Aaron the High Priest, for fatally stabbing Zimri and Cozbi, who had committed a public act of harlotry as a challenge to Moses and the elders at the entrance to the Tent of Assembly. Does the fact that Pinchas is rewarded by G-d with an eternal covenant of priesthood set an unacceptable precedent?

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Pinchas 5763-2003

“Can a Perfect G-d Sin?”

In the long list of sacrifices that appears in parashat Pinchas, we learn of the sin offering that is brought on Rosh Chodesh, the new moon sacrifice. In Numbers 28:15, the Torah instructs the priest to bring one he-goat “for a sin offering unto the Lord.” However, the Hebrew “l’cha’taht la’Hashem” really means “a sin offering for G-d.” The Talmud in Chullin 60b suggests that each month a sin offering is brought for G-d as an atonement for G-d’s “sin” of reducing the size of the moon. There is much to learn from G-d’s “sin offering.”

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Pinchas 5762-2002

“Loving the Land of Israel”

In parashat Pinchas we read about the five trail-blazing daughters of Tzelafchad who approach Moses claiming legal rights to their father’s property in the land of Israel. The Al-mighty rewards the women’s passionate commitment to Israel by declaring that the daughters shall inherit their father’s land. How does Tzelafchad’s daughters’ great love of Zion compare with contemporary Jewry’s, at best, casual commitment to the State of Israel?

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Pinchas 5761-2001

“The Pain of Giving Reproof”

The haftarah for parashat Pinchas, selected from the book of Jeremiah, opens with Jeremiah’s first two prophecies concerning an almond-wood staff that is shown to him by G-d, and the boiling cauldron that is bubbling over from its northern side. The meaning of the cauldron is that the evil will come from the north–the Babylonian hoards, led by Nebuchadnetzer who will destroy the temple. But what is the symbol of the almond-wood staff? Could it be that G-d is trying to show the prophet that there should be no enthusiasm in the prophet’s reproof, no matter how deserving the people of Israel are of reproof? Conveying tragic messages should always be a painful experience for the prophet.

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Pinchas 5760-2000

“The Daughters of Tzelafchad: Legitimate Feminist Claims”

Distinguishing between legitimate and non-legitimate claims has become a fine art, especially when “political correctness” is mixed into the brew. In parashat Pinchas, we encounter the claim of the daughters of Tzelafchad who win the right to inherit their father’s ancestral land in Israel. Along with other issues concerning women that are found in the Torah, the case of Tzelafchad’s daughters underscores that Judaism is really light-years ahead of other civilizations in establishing fair and equitable parameters for Jewish women.

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