- In this Parsha, we are introduced to a new concept. The Torah calls the main character, Pinchas, a zealot. The exact Hebrew wording is kinah – jealousy. What is a zealot? A zealot is someone who cannot bear to see G-d being desecrated and takes it upon himself, at any cost, to restore G-d’s name to its proper respect.
- Although Pinchas was rewarded handsomely for his courageous act, many commentaries insist this was a one, unique opportunity and we should not try this at home. The reason is, we are prone to have ulterior motives for our actions. Pinchas was given a unique opportunity to shine under the most unusual circumstances.
- In the beginning of the Parsha, we elaborate more on the tragic incident that occurred. The Moabites, in collaboration with the Midyanites, were set out to seduce the Jewish people. One of the leaders of the tribe of Shimon, Zimri, fell victim to this seduction by none other than Balak’s daughter, Kozbi, who happens to be the king of Moab. In defiance on why he would not be allowed, Zimri marched to Kozbi, in public display, to the tent where he would have relations with her. The quick thinking Pinchas then grabbed a spear went inside the tent and killed both of them in the act. Pinchas inevitably endangered his life having to confront Zimri’s loyalist but prevailed miraculously to stay alive. His act stopped the plague, as result of this rebellion, where 24,000 Israelites died.
After every tragedy, G-d decrees that the Jewish People be counted. One reason is to show the purity of the nation is still intact. The nations of the world would say whether in Egypt, that the Egyptian monsters ruled over the men and had their way with their wives. Or any time of a rebellion or confrontation, the sanctity of the family would be vulnerable and prone to be infiltrated. This would be the last such count before the Jewish nation enters the promised land.
An interesting dilemma arose on the subject of inheritance. The daughters of a man named Zelophad, who had passed away, approached the high court. It then reached even higher to Moshe, the leader, with a complaint. They were five sisters, unmarried, and contended that their father did not deserve to lose the privilege of having his family share in the promised land just because he had no sons. A son follows the traditions and tribe of his father. If the daughters of Zelophad marry men outside their tribe, there would be another tribe’s flag in the middle of Menashe’s territory. G-d was asked by Moshe what to do. “The daughters of Zelophad deserved their fathers portion,” G-d concurred. The daughters ended up marrying men from their same tribe.
G-d informs Moshe that Yehoshua bin Nun, his trusted second-in-command, will take over once Moshe passes on. Yehoshua, not considered the smartest or the most pious of the elite leadership potentials, however, possessed a quality that is essential in becoming a leader. He is able to conform to anybody’s level. Yehoshua made sure one was comfortable in conversation; meaning he wore many different hats in order to please. This kind of sensitivity was an enormously desirable and an underestimated necessity in leadership.
- The Torah portions in the next number of aliyot might sound familiar; they are read often whether it be on Rosh Chodesh or holidays and Shabbat.
- One might ask why are only two lambs, a smaller number of animals offered on Shabbat than all the other holy days. The number two is appropriate for Shabbat because all matters relating to it, has a double significance. When we are referring to Shabbat songs, usually a double name, mizmor and shir. Those who transgress the laws are doubly condemned “mot yumat”. The enjoyment on that day is twofold, Shabbat/Shabbaton – Shabbat delight a holy day. On Shabbat, the blessing is on two loaves of bread. All matters pertaining to Shabbat are twofold, to hint at its dual character. Although Shabbat is a day of physical rest filled with delights, this aspect represents only half its meaning. The spiritual aspect of learning Torah and a singing atmosphere to feed the soul should be applied as well.
Ever wonder why the holiday of Shavuot is called that – “festival of weeks.” The main billing of the holiday is the receiving of the Torah; therefore, it should be called some name alluding to that matter. This holiday is not determined by the calendar, but by counting seven weeks from the second day of Pesach. In essence, there are those sages who say the seven weeks is a one elongated Chol Hamoed. The idea is a daily elevation, just as our ancestors were elevated 3000 years ago. This includes refining of the character. It’s important to be ready with the right tools at show time. This is why the emphasis is on the weeks. Self-improvement is the essential part of life.
Why are seventy bulls offered on behalf of the other nations? Why do we need to have an offering for them? The Temple was a source of bracha not just for the Jews but for the entire world, and the Jews are the messengers of the bracha. We are G-d’s ambassadors. The non-Jews don’t realize by destroying the Temple, they caused harm to themselves as well.
Credit to:Rabbi Avi Matmon