Pinchas Torah Portion: Numbers 25:10–30:1
Parshat Pinchas picks up in the middle of a story that had begun in the prior
"Phinehas the son of Eleazar the son of Aaron the kohen has turned My anger away from the children of Israel by his zealously avenging Me among
God approves – wholeheartedly – of Pinchas' act and gives him a great reward: the promise of
But this leaves us with some uncomfortable questions. Does that mean that the Torah encourages zealotry? Are we supposed to act
After the saga of Pinchas concludes, the Torah goes on to tell us about another census of the people, this one conducted by Elazar (Pinchas' father, by the way). Totals are given for each of the tribes, though just as with the census earlier in the Book of Numbers, the tribe of Levi is not counted with the rest of the nation. Then Levi is then counted separately and Moshe assigns portions of the land of Israel to each tribe, based on its count.
You may find yourself wondering: Why is it so important to count the people? I can see counting them once, but why do it over and over again? Is there some more lofty, spiritual significance to the notion of "counting" – and if so, what is it? This is the question that Rabbi Fohrman relates to in his video on Parshat Bamidbar, “Why We Count.”
In the course of Moshe assigning portions of land to each tribe, and to each family within each tribe, a fascinating drama ensues. The five daughters of this one particular man, Tzelophchad, approach Moses and contest the laws of land inheritance. They explain to Moses that their father is dead. When someone dies, his land is to be passed to the oldest son — but Tzelophchad had no sons, only daughters. Shouldn't his daughters be able to inherit his plot? Shouldn't his land remain in his immediate family?
Moses brings their petition before God, and shockingly, God grants it. God revises the laws of inheritance, not merely making an exception for the daughters of
What we read about next is a short but dramatic and poignant story: God tells Moses to ascend to the top of a mountain that overlooks the Promised Land — and explains that Moses will die before being able to enter. This is Moses' punishment for having disobeyed God back in Parshat Chukat, for having hit the rock instead of speaking to it. (For more on that story, see "Was Hitting the Rock So Horrible?" and "Why Did Moses Hit The Rock?") Moses pleads with God to appoint a successor to lead the people in his stead, and God identifies Joshua (Yehoshua Bin Nun) as the man for the job.
Parshat Pinchas concludes with a review of the laws of communal sacrifices: the morning and afternoon
By the way, what do all of the seemingly miscellaneous ideas in this