This Week’s Torah Portion Is Pinchas

I will discuss parsha Pinchas live on my cam starting at 1:15 PM PST Tuesday with Rabbi Rabbs.

Rabbi Ari Kahn writes:

Sometimes, biblical stories are complex or densely and intricately woven; other times, the storyline seems straightforward, morally unequivocal, simple stuff: right and wrong, good and bad. One such seemingly open and shut case is the killing of Zimri at the hands of Pinchas. While pacifists might decry the taking of a life, in this case a moral outrage was spreading in the camp – wanton, orgiastic debauches and idolatry. Zimri, a leader of the tribe of Shimon, publicly takes Kozbi, a willing participant from the daughters of Midian. The transgression is flagrant and unmistakable, brazen and unabashed. Pinchas steps in to end the disgrace, to halt the epidemic by means of the sword. The reward he is given leaves little room for doubt: Pinchas is good, Zimri is bad. Pinchas is right, Zimri is wrong. In fact, Jewish tradition sees these two as archetypes of good and evil; the Talmud’s expression for the epitome of hypocrisy is “one who acts like Zimri and expects the reward of Pinchas.”

Our present parsha begins with a description of Pinchas’ richly-deserved reward: a covenant of peace. How self-evident is this particular reward? How clear is it that this should be God’s response to Pinchas’ act of zealotry? Why is peace the reward for taking another man’s life? This act of violence might have had extremely dire consequences for the entire congregation: Violence almost always runs the risk of begetting more violence. How might the congregation have reacted? Were all in agreement that Pinchas acted correctly, or was his behavior less than universally accepted? Rashi records some critical voices, citing a tradition that there were those who accused Pinchas of

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been noted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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