From The Rabbi’s Study…July 2, 2021/22 Tammuz 5781
Torah: Pinchas (Numbers 25:10-30:1) Haftarah: ( I Kings 18-46 -19:21)
The Torah parsha has Pinchas, Aaron’s grandson receiving an award for his zeal. Another census of the Israelites is taken, apportionment of the land of Canaan among the tribes is given. A separate census of the Levites was also taken.This is the portion of laws of inheritance with the case of the five daughters of Zelophechad an Israelite from the tribe of Manasseh dies.There were no sons so the daughters claimed the inheritance of their father and his portion of the land in the Promised Land. The daughters wanted equality of land rights and wealth. This was the first for women to bring such a case before the court. (Numbers 27:36)They won their case, however in order to receive their inheritance they had to marry a man from their tribe. The Torah portion ends with daily and festival offerings.
This Torah portion is timely and relevant today because it shows how the Israelites dealt with fanaticism. The incident of Phichas’ killing of Zimri raised serious moral questions. As Torah states, the Israelites are lusting after the Midianite women, who were enticing them into worship of their idol Ba’al Peor. G-d commands Moses to put to death all the ringleaders who have led the people into wrong doing. At that moment Zimri and Cozbi walk past Moses and enter a tent with the intention of having sexual relations. Pinchas is furious; he takes a spear, rushes into the tent, stabs them both.
Early rabbinic opinion was divided on whether or not the act of Pinchas was justified. Certainly Pinchas did not consult Moses, and took the law into his own hands. Rav, the head of the Sura Academy, condemned Pinchas for his fanaticism. On the other hand, Samuel, the Nehardea Academy, in Babylonia, praised Pinchas for his zeal, claiming that this was a case where G-d’s law was being publicly desecrated, and therefore, Pinchas was correct.
The diversity of opinions leaves us today with the constant challenge of answering the question: Was Pinchas a dangerous fanatic or a genuine hero?
Today, we are still seeing criminal actions in many cities throughout our country. While police may arrest the people breaking our laws or killing a human beings, many of these criminals are released and some continue to repeat their lawless actions.There are many different opinions on dealing with those individuals that have taken the laws and thrown them out the window. Is justice being served? Are people feeling safe in their communities? Are there any punishments to fit the crime so the person will not repeat this aggressive violent behaviour?
We are Jews and we follow 613 Commandments and the Laws of the country we dwell in. We look to do righteous actions, respect everyone and their opinions, we treat people as we would like to be treated. However, there are some people that can only focus on their ways and everyone should follow them.
Freedom of religion, freedom of speech and our ways of life seem to be diminishing at times. Are the Jewish people’s faith going to change the verbiage of our Torah? ABSOLUTELY NOT it is FORBIDDEN! Do you believe a small group of individuals could erase our history, moral and ethical ways?
I Think Not! We fought for our Jewish heritage and our ways of life for 4,000 years!
This July 4th I will be conducting a “United We Pledge”( a nonprofit, nonpartisan, nondenominational foundation) for “A Prayer for Religious Freedom.” The St. George Interfaith Council and the St. George Interfaith Choir will be participating in the program. It will be held at the St. George Catholic Church, Kuzy Hall, located at 259 W. 200 N. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the program will begin promptly at 7:00 p.m. The program should be an hour you will be able to then watch the fireworks later in the evening. The program will be recorded and then put on a website for people to view after the event. Many diverse individuals will be addressing the American values of Freedom, Family and Faith.
The St.George Interfaith Council met with Senator Mike Lee early Wednesday morning to discuss “Religious Freedom” and how the faith community envisioned this important way of American life. It was interesting to hear Senator Mike Lee fight in Congress to make sure our Religious Freedom will not be taken away. The Faith Leaders spoke of the shutting down of our Houses of Worship during the Pandemic. The St. George Interfaith Council addressed any and all issues that our community had to face during this Pandemic.
Also, Beit Chaverim will be meeting on Friday, July 2 at George’s for a 10am Breakfast with the Rabbi. No service, just a social gathering. Maybe even a walk to buy challah from the open market on Tabernacle! More get together socials coming your way soon. See you on Shabbat Zoom Services at 5pm!
Rabbi Helene Ainbinder