Monday, August 01, 2005

Peace Comes From the Almighty, Not From Humanity

By Rabbi Baruch Price
Director, Jewish Learning Experience, Teaneck

Weekly Torah Portion Explanation
This week we read the Torah portion of "Pinchas" (Numbers 25:10-30:1). It contains 6 positive commandments (“do’s”) and 168 verses.

Our portion begins with G-d rewarding Pinchas, grandson of Aaron, with priesthood. This reward is referred to as a “covenant of peace”.

What did Pinchas do to receive this “peace prize”?

Last week’s Torah portion concluded with a tragic episode. Some among the Children of Israel were seduced by Moabite and Midianite women and worshipped an idol. One leader from the tribe of Shimon had the temerity to engage in a sexual act with a Midianite woman in the presence of Moses and the entire assembly. The shock appears to have paralyzed the bewildered audience. Pinchas stood up, grabbed a spear and skewered the couple in flagrante delicto.

We are presented with a great paradox: an act of brutal violence is rewarded with a covenant of peace! The man, Zimri, had certainly committed an outrage, but was the retribution commensurate with the crime?

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