Parsha Pinchas and Our Stressful Times

Is it ever justifiable to kill others in order to preserve the values of your people and your culture? Is it okay to destroy public property by defacing and tearing down statues of Confederate generals and soldiers?

Needless to say, there is a great cleansing going on in this nation. Sorrowfully, there are those who think the cleansing is about ridding the country of foreigners and subjugating others. Then, there are those who are using violent means to eradicate racism in order to cleanse this nation of centuries of racial injustice.

Then, there are those, who, peacefully, approach their leader or leaders and argue their case concerning an injustice.

All these stressful situations affecting our society today are brought to light in this week’s Parsha, Pinchas. Then, as now, anger, frustration, deep seated injustice and the intense heat of summer encourage our Yetzer Harah, our “impulse to do wrong.”

In the prior Parsha, Pinchas, in order to preserve the Israelite covenant, puts an end to idolatrous behavior and relations with Midianite women by murdering an Israelite man and a Midianite woman in public sight. But the Covenant instructs “You shall not murder.” What is going on? And why is he rewarded?

The five daughters of Tzalaphchad, on the other hand, bring their grievances first to Moses. Their father, now deceased, did not have sons who would inherit his property. These daughters challenged Moses to change the law of inheritance. Moses, after a consult with God, who also hears their request, instructs Moses to change the law.

After all these critical struggles, we receive a reprieve and learn about our holy days and the gift of special time to enjoy life and express gratitude to the source of being. May we, in the midst of all the challenges we are facing during this hot month of Tammuz make time to enjoy life and feel grateful to the source of being, the mystery of life.

Zoom with us for Shabbes,  Reb David


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