NUMBERS 25:10-30:1

A short summary of Pinchas

You can also read previous studies on this site.


The following links are from Google Ads.
We have no control over the content.



In Balak, last week's reading, Midian's anti-semitic Rev. Bishop Bilaam was forced to contrast Yaakov's GOOD TENTS-- sexually modest HOMES, headed by involved fathers-- with Moav's depraved jetset "open marriage" orgiastic P'or "culture"; discos led to divans-- many Moabite fathers couldn't even be identified (as in European and British so-called "high society"-- see The Penguin Book of Infidelities). But Israel's males suddenly marred their family portrait in a hedonistic debacle with Midian's tarts (cf. profane Israeli secular "culture" today, especially TV, its main teacher-- don't buy Mei Eden water as long as they use soft porn ads).

Different LIFESTYLES stem from, and also generate, different LIFE OUTLOOKS. Torah teaches human sanctity, the possibility and duty of developing man's Divine Image; naturally wild males are tamed to do so in Yaakov's other GOOD TENTS-- yeshiva and synagogue; there they gradually absorb a "God and family" orientation. "Whoever marries his daughter to an am haaretz (an earth-bound materialist, who despises learning), is as tho he bound and laid her before a lion" (R. Meir, Pes. 49b, where hatred between scholars and amei haaretz is vividly depicted); he'll never relate to her higher female soul. But other rabbis hoped that she might elevate him, tame the savage male beast-- Rachel encourages her ignorant husband, R. Akiva, to study Torah; sweet little holy Dina of Bet Yaakov might have domesticated even wild Uncle Esav (Genesis Raba 76, Rashi on 32:22).

Moav and Midian, however, see man as an animal and sex as a snack; their human satisfaction consists of the unprincipled pursuit of power and pleasure (cf. rockstars, The Arad Festival). Bilaam foresaw fully developed Jewish spiritual potential and influence in the Messianic era; but he also saw Israel's present moral weakness, after so many years of Egyptian dominance and influence. It's a long road back to Eden via Jerusalem. Cheap Midianite and Moabite women, led by Princess Cozbi, Ms. Balak, followed his advice-- they seduced Shimon's prince and many Jewish males, drawing them into the pagan cult of P'or; 40 years of sheltered Divine existence collapsed before Las Vegas of yore (cf. one drink for a drunk). But Jewish "women of the tent" remained pure-- no Chippendales. Perhaps God imbues every woman with innate holiness, spiritual sustenance to build her holy home (tho western education can destroy it). Thus Jewish women bless Him daily-- "...Who has created me LIKE His own will or personality"; conquering males, however, must work on their basically animal nature, self-conquest via extra laws and formal religious institutions, reminding themselves: "...Who's not made me a woman"-- my masculine Divine Image doesn't develop automatically; masculine energy must be circumscribed and circumsised, via much learning and many commandments (see The Eye Of A Needle, Aish Hatorah's Kiruv Primer).

No man's spiritual state is sufficient safeguard. Even great rabbis yielded to sexual temptation, as God exposed their spiritual fragility. Jewish law bans any extra-marital M-F sensual contact (e.g. mixed dancing-- see Sota by Naomi Regan and The Magic Touch by Gila Manolson) and being alone together, where sexual relations might occur*. Many sheltered holy Jews were tainted by the wild 20`s, showing the weakness of isolated East European Orthodoxy; fresh from the shtetel, they or their children often wound up in the cheap theatres (tho Yiddish; cf. Bialik's Hebrew-speaking pagans) and night spots of NYC (see A Woman of Spirit, H. Tarr). America's great dream of success was often best achieved by severly emotionally disturbed petty tyrants. Unable to relate to anyone, they constantly sought elusive honor and recognition. These moguls, however, came from countless generations of Jews afire in pursuit of the spirit, who'd dismissed the material as relatively trivial. Their descendants felt, perhaps unconsciously, that they were abandoning thousands of years of holiness and tradition to "make it" in the US; this caused feelings of guilt, nervousness, and tension-- GOD AND MAMMON WERE IN CONFLICT. (S. Birmingham, THE REST OF US).

* but M-F mixed seating at holy weddings, lectures, Torah dedications, etc. may be desirable-- singles can meet w/o the formality and potential rejection of matchmaking; obsessive extremists over-separate, overJew it. At a recent hardei wedding, however, I discovered another reason for separate seating-- it enabled the respectable "balabatisha" (orthodox petit bourgois) guests to tell each other off-color jokes! Some "once-wild" Chassidim indeed spend their whole day thinking about how not to think about sex! (cf. Rav Nachman's Tikkun with sexual sublimation via creativity, dragging the Devil to the house of study). Yet close, even professional, "platonic" relationships with others can destroy marital intimacy and lead to adultery (Dr. Ruby Wolbromsky). In an age of woman's lib, observant Jews need guidelines; the author of "Why Doesn't Anyone Blush Anymore" accepts professional relationships of married people-- but urges them to end them if sexual feelings arise; is this realistic? Some Jewish authorities permitted concubinage, common law marriage, but their view was not generally accepted, except for extraordinary circumstances, e.g. for one who could only marry his widowed former wife, a Jewish marital prohibition, per the law of the land-- see Shaalot Yavetz II:15, Nisuin Shelo Kdas Moshe V'Yisroel-- Ellinson z"l.

JEWISH R'AM POWER: Jews must fight and destroy evil, but not view fighting as an end in itself (cf. Lebanon). God, our model, was like the "horns of a R'AM, a wild-ox", to Israel (23:22, 24:8); the tribes of peaceful effective Yosef (Efrayim & Manasha) also have "the horns of a wild-ox" (Deut. 33:17)-- an ox uses its horns to drive away those who threaten it; otherwise, it prefers peace. So the Jews, led by Y'hoshua of Efrayim, demand only that the 7 perverse Canaanite nations leave either the holy land or idolatry; Israel is to establish a universal center of the spirit in Israel, to bring Man back to himself and God; they'd rather not have to kill Canaanites and have no interest in conquering any other nations (Sporno, per Rav Zinger, of Givat Shmuel and Budapest). Moav and Midian thus had nothing to fear. Today too, Israel just wants to perform its mission in peace in its ancient land. Arabs lived and worked here peacefully until they again tried to destroy Israel, throwing lethal stones and blocking roads; the "horns" of Tzahal must then push them back. Overreaction and abuses may occur from time to time-- only those who do not see the whole picture, who try, as Bilaam, to curse Israel from a "partial view", will see such incidents as our essence (Rav G. Gorfine, who advocates both Torah and Tzahal for Israel's youth; Mazal Tov on his engagement).

THERE'S NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN (Ecc. 1:9)-- biological life via photosynthesis is but a cycle; periodic death's a prerequisite to rebirth; but soul life, above and independent of the sun, is constantly renewable in its drive toward infinity; so Jewish history gradually and continuously leads toward the world's Messianic return to Eden via Israel, despite periodic setbacks. Richard Cohen (The Return to the Land of Israel-- $15) shows how non-Jewish political and economic policies and realities, often unwittingly, also contributed so much to the birth and growth of the State of Israel. Nachman of Breslav claimed that wherever he was going, he was going toward Israel; but he was eager to leave at once, when he actually arrived here and quickly did his spiritual "fixing". Was he worried about his wife and daughters back in Europe, who were supporting themselves by menial labor? Why didn't he send for them and his followers?

The Jews descend to Egypt amidst Israeli famine. But they enjoy the ensuing wealth, settle down, and forget about God's great land and mission. They probably uttered proper pietistic regrets and sang "Tziyon" on the 9th of Av, and postponed weddings for 3 weeks, "mourning" Israel. Goshen newsstands would carry "Yisroel Shelanu", including photos of Miss Israel, as Egyptian decadence spread. Tho the Jews finally leave Egypt, it takes much longer for "Egypt", over-absorption with power and sensuality, to leave the Jews. Israel's idolatrous orgy at Shittim reflects sensual Golden Calfism; the orgy and God's plague only end when Pinchas kills the 2 princely fornicators. So a handful of "intolerant" Maccabeean priests VIOLENTLY upset the prevalent adulation of Syrio-Greek culture and sport (cf. The Maccabiah and The Israel Festival); they probably covered Jerusalem's sensual chariot stops with pictures of tzadikim!

In our portion, God responds: "Pinchas... has turned My anger away from the sons of Israel... Therefore proclaim: `WOW! I give him my covenant of peace; it shall be for him and his seed after him a covenant of eternal priesthood, as he was jealous for his Lord and made atonement for the children of Israel'" (25:11-13)-- WOW (hen'nee), this week's only explative, expresses wonder that Pinchas' violence itself engenders his peaceful priesthood!!! Santayana defined a fanatic: One who believes as you do, only more!

The following links are from Google Ads.
We have no control over the content.


Avraham Fleck asked why 25:1-9, the tale of Israel's orgiastic debacle and Pinchas' response, ends Balak, while God's congratulations to Pinchas, 25:10-15, are saved for this week. Stanley Marks comments: the rabbis wanted to start and name this reading with "Pinchas"-- the schemes of Balak & Co. may temporarily succeed, but a Pinchas or Maccabee will eventually redeem Israel-- a Pinchas follows a Balak. Perhaps the rabbis wanted us to FIRST evaluate Pinchas' act of zealous homicide, pro and con, in Balak-- only THEN, in Pinchas, comes God's SEEMING approval. True, Pinchas' quick decisive act saved the day, and the sinners' death was deserved-- one who publicly cohabits with an idolator may be killed (San. 9:6). So Mosrei Hashlah learns from Pinchas the true value of sincere zealotry-- to save God's Good Name. Pinchas also later kills Bilaam (cf. executing Abu Jihid). Religious tolerance isn't a traditional Jewish concept (traditionally heretical L. Jacobs-- What Does Judaism Say About...?; see Rambam, M.T. Edut 11:10, on destroying heretics). Israel must, at least theoretically, raze a Jewish idolatrous city (Deut. 13:13-9).

But Rav A. Kook and Rav J. Soloveichik, also following the Rambam, who changed his mind (M.T. Mamrim 3:3), distinguish innocent modern non-believers, even professors of Bible at H.U., H.U.C., and JTS, all captives of an all-embracing tzeitgeist, from willful rebels; the Chazon Ish also said that love and light are today`s only proper approach to heresy-- see Y. D. Shechita, end of 28; Ency. Tal. 2:137; Jewish Tradition and The Non-Traditional Jew, especially Rav Norman Lamm's article**. Prophets, who wouldn't tolerate any Jewish or Israeli idolatry (e.g. IK18:21), rarely raged against non-Israeli non-Jewish idolatry (cf. Deut. 4:19), then beyond their sphere of influence. If Israel's a true model, the rest of the world will fall into place (Arabs too!).

** unfortunately, Rav Y. Chayoun, author of When Moshiach Comes, and the large group of "gaonim", also called "gdolim", who endorsed his work (his own rebbe, Rav Shach, did not) were apparently unaware of the above later decision of the Rambam (Chayoun was not), and of true "gadol" Lamm's brilliant and comprehensive article on this subject-- Chayoun, on his first page (21) urges one to hate and destroy even innocent non-believers, citing an earlier Rambam in Perek Chalek, and the fiery Brisker Rav! I tried to get the author, publisher Targum Press and distributor Feldheim Books to recall the book, otherwise interesting and OK, or add corrective and warning labels, as on cigarettes, but was not successful. I urge everyone who comes in contact with this dangerous work to point out its gross error-- a misguided unstable zealot may cause sinful grave harm to an innocent non-observant Jew after he/she reads it. As many books from the "Yeshiva world", it lacks a great basic modern improvement-- an index, and academic comprehensiveness and objectivity.

The Messiah Texts by Raphael (Erwin Gyorgy) Patai*** is far more scholarly, (and thus much harder!), far less piestistic, yet far less harmful than When Moshiach Comes. Neither work mentions the Zohar's claim (1:116-9, 139b; 2:9b) that 1200 years having elapsed from the destruction of the Temple, a century for each tribe, the Redemption is about to begin; this shows that the Zohar was written in 1268, probably by Moses DeLeon; Yaakov Emden, The Vilna Gaon, and others, while not disputing this fact, claim that, like the Talmud, the Zohar was an ancient oral tradition, only later written down, but with many additions, errors, etc.-- see Shalom, The Kabbala-- The Zohar, p. 213f.

*** FROM PATA TO COLUMBIA, FROM KLEIN TO PATAI-- AN INTERESTING STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS HISTORICAL SOCIOLOGICAL DIVERSION: Patai (born 1911, died recently) was a Jewish orientalist, anthropologist, folklorist, biblical scholar, and rabbi, who studied in Budapest and at Germany's heretical Conservative Breslau JTS-- it was founded by eminent philologist Yaakov Bernays, who strictly observed kashrut, even when invited to the highest literary salons, together with Graetz, Manuel Joel and Zacharias Frankel; Bernays dad, Orthodox Chacham Yitzchak, was the first Orthodox rabbi to preach in German and to blend secular and Jewish studies in his shul and talmud torah; he banned the 1841 Reform prayer book, deeming it "non-Jewish". His son, Michael, a historian of literature, who defended anti-semitic Wagner, was baptized and estranged from his family in 1856, at 22. But the Breslau seminary was opposed by Bernays' loyal Orthodox pupil, S. R. Hirsch. After his aliya in 1933, Patai studied at H.U., receiving its first doctorate in 1936; his brother, Shaul, was a H.U. Prof. of Chemistry. Patai authored 50 books, collaborated with Robert Graves in Hebrew Myths, and helped start the career of famous Israeli folklorist Dov Noy. The Arab Mind was one of many books he authored on arab and arab-jewish culture.

I witnessed a remarkably vibrant Jewish-Moslem beit hamidrash, about 60 people, at Yakar last year; Jews and Arabs study each others' beliefs, in this case charity and kindness, with the aim of mutual understanding and friendship, without criticizing or missionarizing each other; Rav Menachem Froman, who believes that we should dialogue with religious, rather than secular, moslems is involved. Alon Goshen Gotstein's Elijah Summer School (052-780-069), now in session, features Jewish, Catholic, Moslem, Hindu and Buddhist scholars, who are discussing the interaction of law and morality. The non-denominational Hartman Institute has both an annual all-denominational rabbinic seminar and an orthodox boys only h.s.-- is this a contradiction?.

In '47, Patai descended to the U.S., where he taught at Dropsie, Columbia and other prominant universities. He translated THE MIDDLE GATE (JPS 1994), the enchanting Hungerian childhood memoirs of his father-- Hungarian and Hebrew poet, translator and editor Joseph (Jozsef, 1882-1953), who grew up in the strictly pious hassidic hamlet of Pata (Gyongyospata, whence Klein became Patai); he later studied in yeshivot Kisvarda, Satorraljaujhely, Szatmar, Huszt and Nyitra. The minds and souls of little male tots in Pata were shaped by their early study of Bible and, soon after, the talmud, specifically Baba Metzia, The Middle Gate; his lyrical tale shows exactly how this occurred, enabling Jews to transcend their insular fragile environment, experiencing Messianic and heavenly realms as vibrant realities. But, at 16, Joseph left the yeshiva world, attended a Catholic Piarist high school in Nyitra, and became a leading Hungarian academic, poet and Zionist; he produced the magnificent Hungarian Jewish Almanac in 1911. When he entered the heretical Neologic (Conservative) rabbinic school, under his beloved teacher Wilhelm Bacher, a Breslau grad and a famed aggadic, hebrew and exegetic scholar, his hassidic family sat shiva for him (mourned his death); they were later reconciled, and he was resurrected, when he married an orthodox lady, fellow Zionist and poet Edith Ehrenfeld, with a fine rabbinic pedigree, including the Chatam Sofer; he then had a well dug for his aged father, near his home.

So Rafael's first wife was the daughter of his Orthodox professor, Shmuel Klein; Freud married Martha Bernays, daughter of Yitzchak's only orthodox son, businessman Berman-- when the male's pride, conquest and critical intellect lead him astray, his wife's deeper instinctive intuitive faith (she's created with a natural ability and, possibly, proclivity, to be "kirtzono", like His Own Will or Personality) often keeps God's Presence in his home; one's wife is his House, his Temple! But intolerant dominant Freud forced Martha to abandon her faith. The diary shows how the Talmud formed Joseph's Jewish soul, permeating his whole life-- he made aliya in 1939.

From The Middle Gate

Surely for us there could have been no finer conclusion of the Bovo Metzi'o tractate. A king (Shabor) expresses appreciation of a talmudist (Rav Shimon)! We somehow felt that this recognition crowned our winter studies, which finally bore fruit. No ?, of course, that we had reaped recognition thruout the year. On the Sabbath afternoon, when before the Mincha prayer, both the children and the fathers gathered in our house to enjoy a few "sabbath fruits", an impromptu examination used to take place. "Yasele, bring here the gemore! What did you learn this week?" The Middle Gate was opened up and the words sounded, and the questions and answers were sung, and the happy fatherly and motherly smiles made the taste of the figs, the dates and the raisins even sweeter. But when we reached King Shabor, we imagined, for a moment, such an examination in the royal palace. On the high golden throne sat King David himself, in his royal purple mantle, around him in full gala the great ones of the realm, the elders of Judah, and we cheder children open the big Talmud folios and wait. On the table, on golden platters, are heaps of fruit from the Holy Land and sweets sweeter than honey. "Well, let us hear", says King David, and we all intone the wonderful talmudic song, "The Mishna says", "the Gemore asks", "Vetanne tani". And we sing and explain the Hebrew words, under the glittering chandeliers in the resplendent palace. And King David descends from his throne and kisses me on the forehead: "You spoke well, my son. We express to you our appreciation"....

On the last day before Pesach, after the morning prayers, the melamed (teacher) gathered us for the siyyem, the closing of The Middle Gate... the first born of Israel must, on that day, turn the scales of heavenly compassion toward them by fasting and Torah study. But there are always such who... finish on that very day a tractate of the Talmud, and then the siyyum-feast is observed, and on a feast day there is no fasting. This time our master Reb Shalom had pulled it off right with his pupils. There were a few first-born among us, and even if we little ones were exempt from fasting, nevertheless we were prouder of this way of keeping away the fast than of our feat of strength on Yom Kippur when... we managed to abstain from all food at least until midday. We surrounded the master with deep respect, and laid down with him the last bricks of "The House and the Upper Floor" (the last chapter of the tractate). And we felt now that we had truly built for the whole community. Then, like those who had erected a big and magnificent palace, we took leave of our work with the sacred prayer found at the end of each tractate of the Talmud, reciting it with deep emotion and a tender love in our hearts. And we prayed together with the grown-ups, swinging and rocking and singing:

"Glory upon you, O `House and Upper Floor', and let the Middle Gate be closed! Our glory upon you, Bova Metzi'o, and your glory upon us. Our remembrance for you, O Bova Metzi'o, so that you should not forget us, and we should not forget you, neither in this world, nor in the World to Come! Render, O Lord our God, the words of Your Torah sweet in our mouth and the mouth of your people Israel! Let us all, us and our descendants (Rafael and Shaul and their kids), and the descendants of the House of Israel, be knowers of Your Name and learners of your teachings! Your sacred Torah makes me wiser than my enemies, because it is always with me. May it be Your Will, my Lord, my God, that, as You have helped me to finish the book of The Middle Gate, so You should help me to begin and finish other books as well, to learn and to teach, to observe and to fulfill with love, Your sacred teachings, so that the Torah should not depart from my mouth and the mouth of my children and my children's children for ever and ever. And may it become fulfilled for me: When you walk about, He guides you; when you lie down, He guards you; when you wake up, He talks to you; long life is in His right hand, richness and glory in His left hand; the Lord gives strength to His people (to endure a 1900 year exile and reestablish the State of Israel and Tzahal; but, there's no true blessing while war still exists, but, eventually--), the Lord (also) blesses His people with peace (may it be soon)". May little Patai's descendants teach Torah from Zion!

Academic sociologist Samuel Heilman, a modern Orthodox Jew, had a much less intense and passionate Jewish childhood; he had difficulty identifying with much of the abstruse, seemingly irrelevant and antiquated subject matter and patterns of thought of the Talmud; tho he always lived a committed observant life, he only paid lip service to the ideal of "lernen", constant preoccupation with Talmudic study. Heilman decided to study the "lernen" scene in Jerusalem as an involved sociological observer, combining professional objectivity with inner religious quest; he discusses his search for the right "lernen" scene and his ultimate intense personal involvement in talmudic study in The Gate Behind the Wall (1984; $20 from TOP).

It's amazing how much time and effort he wastes with non-thinking rote reciters of Talmud and spaced-out mystic Brestlavers; he identifies with them, before he joins a group of intelligent modern analytic searchers-and-seekers, who also understand the use of metaphor and proverb, to recapture and recreate the original holy intellectual adventure of the talmudic sages. After his sabbatical, Heilman returned to the world of academic sociology, but quite changed inwardly; his 4 sons, in fine Zionist yeshivot at a young age, swim far more fluidly and naturally in the sea of the talmud.

From THE GATE...: Heilman, for the first time, himself explains to his study group and teacher a difficult passage: "`The Tosphot explain that he who does not learn the Oral Tradition will be buried by the dense weight of scripture'. I thought for a moment of my attachment to Scripture, and how I was now ready to move beyond it. And then I continued: `If we listen only to the condensed words of the written Torah, if we do not surround it with the mantle of the Oral Tradition, if we do not "lern" the Gemora, here shall we be buried. We cannot comprehend the full meaning of each verse of the Bible, we cannot fathom its depths, without the light of the Talmud. Without it, we are like the dead; you are as good as buried. That, gentlemen, is what is meant when Rabbi Yochanan says that if we try to grasp the Torah w/o its mantle, WE shall be buried w/o our mantle' (The rabbi then read from the Talmud: `If you don't accept my Torah, THEN AND THERE will you be buried'). `But what is there?', he asked-- `There, among all the nations of the world, from whom you'll be no different. For if you have not put on the mantle of the Talmud, you will understand the Scripture as do all other nations; you will be like them (cf. Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist and University Jewish professors of Bible, who follow the Documentary Hypothesis). The Talmud, gentlemen, is our Jewishness; it is our mark of distinction, the emblem of our understanding. We do not "lern" Gemora simply to acquire knowledge; we do it to preserve our Jewish lives'".

Heilman continues: "I had made a breakthru, reviewing a complex piece of the Talmud for the class... Over the months at Heichal Baruch, and perhaps even before, I had been coming eluctably closer to lernen and the Talmud. I had experienced that closeness only after confronting the possibility of my `going stranger'. Only then, perhaps, had I been ready to find a group of men, who, like me, could see beyond the literal meanings of the text. The men around me had made a living symbol of the Talmud, and used metaphor to connect themselves to its Jewish wisdom. The words and phrases-- the legalisms and narratives-- were, in their deepest structure, expressions of Jewish consciousness and affirmations of traditional culture. Before this evening... about to complete our first volume of the Talmud, I had never joined publicly in that act of expression and affirmation. Tonight, at last, I had come out in public-- completed my initiation-- and begun to `lern' Talmud on my own. And the verse I had chosen for my display of `lernen' was one that helped me at last to articulate the tie that Talmud had to my life as a Jew.

"I had for years failed to understand the true nature of Judaism, both as religious Jew and as sociologist, because I had not understood the Talmudic process and its significance. The Talmud was the central symbol of my cultural heritage, essential to the Jew in me, in all my people... `There are 600,000 aspects and meanings of the Torah', wrote Menachem Azariah da Fano, the 16th century Italian kabbalist. `According to each one of these ways of explaining the Torah, the root of a soul has been fashioned in Israel'. I had come to the Talmud circle as a participant-observer and, for a time, lost my status as participant. Now I had it back again. My `lernen' could be at once both a religious exercise-- a mitzva-- and a way to reenact, exhibit, discover and reinforce my ties to my people-- a kind of performance of Jewish culture. By entering the chavruse (study group), I could ACT LIKE A JEW... But did this mean that there was no room left for the sociologist in me?..."

YF: While writing this study, my eyes providentially lit upon an unobtrusive unknown book in my library, Heilman's relatively impersonal academic account of the socio- and psycho- dynamics of these same "lernen" experiences-- The People of the Book-- Drama, Fellowship and Religion; there he also portrays his more intense and intimate classes, in his teacher's (Rav Zalman Dueck) Jerusalem home, which he omits in The Gate (Why? Dueck is a pupil of Chaim Herzog's dad, the chief rabbi). His application of sociological insights into group and leader-follower dynamics to the "lernen" groups is fascinating; truth and peace are indeed often in conflict in preserving the pleasant dynamic of the group and its reverence for its leader, while striving to make sense of the talmudic text. Heilman quotes Gershom Scholem's "Jewish Awakening", in From Berlin to Jerusalem: "If I ask myself whether I ever had what one might call an Erlebnis (a living experience) in my relationship to things Jewish... it was the thrill I experienced on a Sunday in April 1913, when (my rabbi) Bleichrode taught me to read the first page of the Talmud in the original and, later that same day, the exegesis by Rashi... of the first verses of Genesis. It was my first traditional and direct encounter, not with the Bible, but with Jewish substance in tradition.

BACK TO PINCHAS THE ZEALOT: Some rabbis, however, looked askance even at Pinchas' zealotry-- 1) he acted on his own, tho his teacher Moshe was present. 2) he executed sinners w/o warning and trial. 3) he aroused aggressive instincts-- vigilante pride and bloodlust, howbeit in God's name; they may quickly move on to improper targets (see Chatam Sofer). Indeed, if Pinchas slew the fornicating felons AFTER they separated, he'd be deemed a murderer. As Pinchas' act wasn't per a court decree, Zimri indeed had the right to kill him in self-defense (cf. M.T. San. 18:6). HAD PINCHAS ASKED THE SAGES, THEY WOULD HAVE SAID: "DON'T DO IT!". INDEED, ONLY GOD'S APPROVAL STOPPED HIS EXCOMMUNICATION (T.J. SAN. 9:9). But great rabbis may be out of tune with God's plans for historical action and change, e.g. Zionism (see AM HABANIM SMEICHA & THE RAV SPEAKS). Normal reverence for rabbis and judicial procedures may be overlooked in either emergency situation present here-- 1) profanation of God's Name, and 2) saving the lives of the orgiastic Jews, who were dying in the plague. So Shimon b. Shatach (head of the Pharisee Sanhedrin, brother of Queen Shlomit, brother-in-law of the wicked slayer of the rabbis, King Alexander Yannai) summarily executed 80 cult witches in Ashkalon, apparently without normal judicial procedure (San. 46a). He routed the Sadduccee Sanhedrin, who didn't recognize the Oral Law (cf. university departments of Bible today). Per Marsha, Pinchas didn't have to consult Moshe first-- Moshe had already ordered the tribal leaders to slay those attached to Baal P'or (25:3)-- perhaps Zimri hadn't hitherto joined the cult.

Isi Leibler celebrates Jewish renewal, return to Torah and tradition, while warning of accompanying intolerance, group think and communal isolation (JEWISH RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM-- A THREAT TO THE FUTURE OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE)-- only saintly Shmuel Hakatan agreed to compose the prayer against Jewish traitors and heretics-- other rabbis may have feared impure motives, due to arousal of their own diabolic inner forces (Ber. 28b, San. 11a). So later Rabbinic responses to Jewish apostasy to Christianity and Reform Judaism were based on conflicting needs-- to stop and condemn treason to Judaism and Jewry, on the one hand, vs. the desire to leave a door open to return of the apostates, on the other; some, e.g. Chatam Sofer, saw little difference between Reform Judaism and Christianity, both an abandonment of truly traditional Judaism; but Rav Ezriel Hildesheimer distinguished between them, while agreeing that both be ostracised; but Sofer's son, Ktav Sofer, didn't want to drive reform apostate's children away from Judaism, and reversed his father's policies. His son, Shevet Sofer, limited mourning practices for apostates to Christianity, who, unlike the physically dead, including the Rebbe, might yet return to our society (see Jewish Apostasy in the Modern World, by Todd M. Endelman).

A truly holy zealot should otherwise be a pleasant gentle person; an unholy one always seeks someone to destroy. So God blesses Pinchas-- he'll REMAIN a "man of peace" (H. Davar), tho aggression's habit-forming. Impure zealotry may be inspired by hatred or a desire for publicity, gain or excitement (Rav Pliskin, Growth Through Torah; as opposed to "avenging MY jealousy", per Chatam Sofer). Rabbis who attack non-traditional sects are often counterproductive-- the public identifies with their victims! The net effect of "Who's a Jew" agitation is to strengthen Reform, with whom we must work for Jewish causes (Rav Jakobovits, If Only My People-- 22, 202). Rav J. Soloveichik agreed. God always identifies with the persecuted (Ecc. Raba 3:15:1). When the rabbinate takes extra strict positions, e.g. revoking a proper conversion if the convert reverts to normal Jewish Israeli non-observance, they are de facto creating mixed marriages and turning people off to truly traditional Judaism. Rav Dovid Hartman, raised and ordained Orthodox, shouted many times during his recent public talk against proposed conversion legislation: "My Rebbe was wrong!", referring to Rav J. Soloveichik's ruling that one should not hear shofar on Rosh Hashana, if he could only do so in a Conservative synagogue. But the Rav's son-in-law, Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, was quoted at Hartman's Rabbinic Seminar as ruling that one should hear it, if necessary, even in a reform temple. The rabbis were surprised; I wasn't-- The humble Rav never insisted that his pupils agree with or follow his opinions.

Yaakov condemns Shimon and Levi's holy vengence on his deathbed (cf. so-called "holy rabbis" who praised bomb attacks on Arab buses, even before the intifada). Their holy anger against Shchem eventually turns into a coldblooded attempt to murder Yosef and his ideas (cf. Grunsweig and Goldstein; those who call non-Jews ugly names today, curse left-wing Jews tomorrow. A rabid Kahana parsha sheet is misnamed Darcha Shel Torah-- all the Torah's ways are pleasantness and peace, per Prov. 3:17; see Zohar I 190. Last week, Darcha compared Clinton to Bilaam and condemned HaTzofeh's condemnation of the crude ridicule of Islam by an insane Russian woman; their "derech" is the opposite of that of Rav A. Kook, Rav C. Hirschenson and Rav E. Benemozegh's loving path of Torah, appreciating the good in everything; they're also oblivious of the danger to Jews innate in their writings-- Goldstein's act brought the death of Jews in its wake; of course, they omitted the Rambam's praise of pure Islamic monotheism and of Christian preservation of the Hebrew text of Tanach, in quoting his remarks-- "Do not envy a man of violence and choose not any of his ways", Prov. 3:31). Levi's descendant, Korach, rebels against Moshe and Aharon. Shimon's prince and people, stars of Shittim's Orgy, are slain by Levite Pinchas and Co.; they're far more promiscuous than Shchem-- he loved Dina and wanted to marry her.

Those condemning others' moral laxity, measuring little girls' sleeves and banning them from their synagogues, may be fighting their own passions. Pinchas only attacked a flagrant public assault on morality and Moshe. Yet he lost his Divine Afflatus when he pridefully refused to travel to annul Yiftach's rash vow, rendering his daughter a Nazarite nun (Gen. Raba 60:3 on ICh.9:20, per Ibn Ezra). Both leaders, ridiculed for their maternal ancestry, may have been insecure in their hard won status; could inner doubt, perhaps unconscious, about their own masculinity motivate ultra-militant chauvanistic Jews, who are obsessively concerned with Arab men who woo Jewish women? Hasmonean zealotry also quickly deteriorated into corrupt seizure of political power by their descendants.


Pinchas' reward for his zealotry was priesthood and peace. Tho he was Aharon's grandson, Pinchas had to earn his own priesthood-- he was born before his father, Eleazar, became a cohen; only children subsequently born automatically became cohanim (Rashi). Perhaps only Aharon had so great a soul that even his sons, imbibing his spirit, automatically became priests; they, however, could not transmit it to their own newborn sons, until they were active priests themselves, exuding a higher "father image". Siblings do NOT have identical parents-- each encounters a different stage of mom and pop's development. Reuven's father may be Yaakov the shepherd, his brother Yosef's, Yaakov the Sage.

Last week, Zimri & Cosbi (cf. Frankie & Johnny) were just called "a man and a woman", their actions hardly noble; their royal rank now appears, only to praise Pinchas for destroying such powerful popular figures (cf. "Princess" Di). His fellow Jews indeed mocked him-- his grandpa, Rev. Yisro, worshipped idols (San. 82b). So Uriya was mocked for suspected Givonite origin, and prophets Y'chezkal and Yermiyahu, as descendants of ex-prostitute Mrs. Y'hoshua, nee Rachav. But God stressed their greatness (P.D'R.K. 13). God calls Pinchas a true "son of Aharon"-- a sincere zealot must also have Aharon's quality of great love (Rav Shmuelevitz). Children inherit varying %s of ancestral traits; Pinchas, tho aggressive, was the spiritual image of peaceful Aharon, acquiring the status of Aharon's SON (not just grandson-- Hagahot Gershoni). 18 High Priests of the 1st Temple, 80 of the 2nd, were, indeed, his descendants (Sifre; see I CH. 5:30-40, 6:34-8-- Ibn Ezra).

God next ordered Moshe to slay the Midianites (25:17f)-- they hated the Jews so much that they used their daughters and princesses as whores to stop Israel's mission-- to restore man to his spiritual glory (Hirsch). One who makes man sin is worse a murderer-- he murders him in the eternal world to come (R. Shimon, Numbers Raba 21:5)! Israel had to wipe out Midian or eventually be wiped out by them; this would end universal mankind's hope of existential redemption via the Jewish people. Yet the Moabites were spared, for they genuinely feared that the Jews would steal from them, acting in self-defense; also Ruth and Messiah were to come from Moav and Balak (Rashi, B.K. 38a; Nazir 23b; this implies that one's whole people forms his personality-- see R. Laing's writings; otherwise why not spare only those Moabites who were Ruth's ancestors?). Moshe himself couldn't fight Midian, as it had sheltered him (Baal Haturim).

Moshe takes a dual purpose census: 1) to ascertain how much territory each tribe gets. Rabbis debated as to which group was the land apportioned-- to the tribal population ENTERING the land, or that which LEFT EGYPT (B.B. 117a). Hirsch, summarizing Rashi and Rashbam, concludes: BOTH! R. Yonaton, of the 1st opinion, says that here "the dead Exodus generation inherit from the living Conquest generation". Rav Shlomo Riskin sees this as an eternal Jewish leitmotif-- so many generations devoted their lives to a dream that never materialized, dying in the autos-da-fe, the Crusades, and the Holocaust, with Shma on their lips, and Eretz Yisroel in their hearts. We're their heirs, yet, thru us they inherit the land. Tribal areas were of equal value; the smaller areas were of higher quality-- Rashi, 26:54.

2) to show how the good tribes grew in size, and how the bad shrank. Shimon is decimated-- 59,300 to 22,200; this holy avenger's progeny led the fatal desert rebellions. His 2 neighbors on the South side, Reuven and Gad, also lost population, indicating mutual negative influence. The rebellion of Reuvenites Datan and Aviram, Korach, and 250 pietists is also mentioned here, to equate death with sin; life is equated with repentance and separation from evil-- the sons of Korach did not die; so we recall the sinful deaths of Er, Onan, Nadav, and Avihu (Rashi). Ramban disagrees-- the relation of death to sin, in our imperfect fallen world, is far from clear (cf. the Holocaust, sufferings of the righteous, and notions of "a place of danger"). God sometimes doesn't intervene (in this world) when the angel of death's messeger gets the wrong woman, due to her bad luck; her remaining years are given to a rabbinic scholar who's humble (Hag. 4b on Prov. 13:23: BUT THERE IS THAT SWEPT AWAY W/O JUDGMENT).

But Manasha had a huge increase (32,200 to 52,700), and formed new tribal families in each generation (was their willingness to share power and prestige with their progeny their merit?). The total male population of military and land-inheritance age decreased 1820, to 601,730; Levites added 1000 to their census of males from 1 month, now 23000. Sonless Tzelafchad's 5 orphaned daughters now plead with Moshe that they inherit, as sons, 5 shares in Israel; his name should continue in a landed family unit, of which Manasha had so many (Hirsch). They may have been ardent Zionists, who wanted only Eretz Yisroel proper, not even Manashian Jordan. Women, our homemakers, may have a greater intuitive attachment to the land of Israel, our only national home-- "The wisdoms of women built her home"; the women ignored the spies' negative report and eventually entered Israel (Rav Dov Begon). Some say that Moshe unsuccessfully argued with Tzelafchad's daughters, that women shouldn't inherit; they retorted that they equalled sons in exempting their mother from yivum, Leverite marriage (Numbers Raba 21, I Yal. Sh. 5773, Sifre). They first claim that Tzelafchad wasn't among Korach's rebels, who lost their portions in Israel; he died for his own sin (either gathering sticks on Shabat or as one of those who tried to conquer Israel against God's will, the maapilim-- Num. 14:45, 15:33). All over 40, they hadn't yet found spiritually worthy husbands, to match their own post-Yeshiva level (Numbers Raba 21:11-- cf. today's highly educated single pious women).

Moshe was stymied! Midrashim differ-- some say that he simply forgot the law, a punishment for deciding cases alone (Numbers Raba 21:12); others posit that he only feigned ignorance, to teach the Jews, by example, to always consult with higher authority (ibid 21:13). Moshe knew that daughters inherit in lieu of sons, but not how much land they get (Hirsch). Moshe, eager to help, brings their case to God right away, as he did for those unclean on Pesach; but he waits for God to come to him when a sinner must be punished. God accepts their claim; He apparantly awaits their initiative, rather than revealing this law earlier (cf. current issues of women and halacha and "God helps those who help themselves", e.g. Zionism and Tzahal).

Moshe was then told to prepare himself for a death similar to Aharon's (by Divine Kiss)-- they hadn't sanctified God properly at the Waters of Dispute. Shittim's rebellion may be due to Moshe's failing leadership, leading to his retirement. Moshe and Aharon were now to show Israel that their future success would depend on God's NATURAL response to the "word of Moshe", i.e. keeping the Torah, rather than to the "rod of Moshe", i.e. miracles. Since they didn't convey this message, God did-- He replaced His miracle workers with new leadership (Hirsch, quoting his rebbe Y. Bernays, Martha Freud's grandpa). God proclaims that their only fault is inability to lead and inspire Israel; unlike the spies, they had full faith.

Moshe's first concern is a new leader for Israel after his death; he asks God to appoint one (27:16f); Rav Yehuda Henkin notes that Moshe doesn't believe in division of leadership-- as Moshe, the new leader would be both field commander and strategic planner, both policy maker and chief executive. God, not he, is to appoint his successor. God disagreed-- He split leadership between Yehoshua and Eleazer. Yehoshua had to inquire thru Eleazer of the urim and tumim to determine tribal boundaries in Canaan (B.B. 122a)-- executive and legislative branches, monarchy and Sanhedrin, were to remain distinct. No one can do everything****. R. Akiva said: "Don't live in a city whose leaders are scholars (Pes. 112a-- Bnei Brak?)". Scholars immersed in day-to-day affairs won't be able to study. They must review and APPROVE civil ordinances, but don't enact them (Sh. Ar., Ch. Mish. 231:28). God also tells Moshe to install Yehoshua, imbuing him with his own aura. So subsequent leaders had to both appoint their successors and divide power between them (cf. Rav Nachman and The Rebbe-- will Rav Shaul Deutsch of Boro Park be able to build a new refined alternative Chabad movement? Will the Israeli Rothmanian descendants of the Rebbe's brother, Leibel, eventually succeed the Rebbe?).

****YF: But the Talmud (San. 8a) claims that Moshe wanted Yeshoshua to follow the advice of the elders (Deut. 31:7: "... for you shall come WITH this people into the land..."), whereas God disagreed and said that there must be only one leader in a generation (Deut. 31:23: "... for you shall BRING the children of Israel into the land...")-- cf. Israeli coalition politics, giving Arabs, Meretz and haredim disproportionate power to determine policy, the chassidic concept of "tzadik hador", the righteous one of the generation, and Rambam's concept that only the one great intellect every generation or two is truly worthy of life (near the end of his Introduction to the Mishna; this may reflect his child experience, where his Dad disdained him until he blossomed as a young genius)-- he views Jewish monarchy as a mitzva (M.T. Kings). Note Churchill's claim-- democracy is the worst possible form of government, except all others which have been tried; so Abarbanel viewed monarchy as evil per se, per IS8-- see Jacobson, Meditations On The Torah, Shoftim. Should we have a PM?

Moshe doesn't propose any leader; perhaps he hopes that no one better than he will be found to replace him (Midrash and Ariel Fogelman, who notes that taking care of a little sibling enables a child to justify staying home from school). So the relevant ? is NOT how bad a wife or employee are, but whether you can do better-- you must have somebody (Rav Dr. S. Sternberg; cf. Churchill above)! Perhaps Moshe hopes that his sons will succeed him (as Tzlafachd's daughters); but they're rejected-- merit, not family connections, makes a Torah leader (cf. great baalei tshuvah Torah leaders, e.g. Rav Steinsaltz, with nondescript sons of some rabbinic dynasties)

SOME MIDRASHIM IMPLY THAT MOSHE'S SONS WERE INDEED AS GREAT SCHOLARS AS Y'HOSHUA, BUT LACKED HIS DEVOTION AND SACRIFICE (Numbers Raba 21:15). So Pinchas got a higher priestly state thru merit, than did his brethren thru lineage. Yet Pinchas isn't nominated to succeed Moshe. A zealous rabbi or cohen lacks patience to slowly elevate the people; he can't lead Jews estranged from Torah, tho he may join the (hopefully) loyal opposition (see G). Perhaps only those with shady backgrounds may be great leaders-- they empathize with their followers' failings. God chooses Y'hoshua, Moshe's understudy, to succeed him; Moshe is to endow him with his authority (Ibn Ezra, Sporno) or radiance (Ex. 34:29; Targum Yon.). Y'hoshua, whose face shone like the moon, reflects the light of Moshe, who shone like the sun (B.B. 75a).

CH. 28:The portion ends with time-fixed public sacrifices; daily offerings come first, then increasingly rarer Shabbat, New Moon, and holiday sacrifices; all inspire today's prayers (Ber. 26b, M.T. Ahava 1:5). Sacrifices follow Moshe's request for a new leader-- an old matchmaker, who used to restore peace between a couple, felt his end drawing near; he pleaded with the husband to overlook his wife's faults in the future. Hubby asked him to teach his wife to act properly-- then there will be no fights to reconcile (Num. Raba 21:3; cf. Tan. 11 & the intifada)! So God tells Moshe not to worry so much about Israel's leaders, but to see that they draw near to Him-- then they'll be worthy of good leaders! So we need Divine aid to vote-- we don't know candidates' true nature, challenges and responses. Perhaps the days preceding elections should be devoted to prayer, study, and good deeds, rather than electioneering (YH)! Per Samuel, the Jews reject Divine Rule in seeking human rulers (IS8); perhaps when they're really in shape, they need no leaders-- as prophets, they'll know God's Will; see Yoel 3:1, Jer. 31:33, Gen. Raba 98:9.

The "sweet scent of sacrifices" is God's satisfaction that Israel fulfills His laws of sacrifice, which attach man to Him (Num. Raba 21:17). Their messages will bring Israel close to God, just as Moshe's person did (Hirsch-- are they explained to the offerers, or is their message intuitively perceived?-- cf. Hirsch's explanation of the red cow in Chukas); man can imbue physicality with holiness. Sacrifices also teach us that even power and pleasure, bulls and wine, can be brought near to God, be part of Divine Service (tho Y. Schwartz, quoting Hirsch, urges that enjoyment of tasty food be minimized-- THE ETERNAL JEWISH HOME!, P. 83, $10 from TOP; I ? his advice to avoid teaching a child any trade but his father's-- P. 136; we're to educate our children per their own uniqueness). Most sacrifices are only brought in Israel (musafim and nesachim)-- they were thus taught just prior to its conquest (Ramban). Sacrifices are "God's bread"-- the ensuing human elevation causes God to sustain the world (Zohar Chadash 1:164). The holidays teach that Jews can celebrate with holy joy, without pagan vulgarity (cf. Sylvester, Halloween).

The goat of sin-offering is called "seir EZIM", a goat OF THE FLOCKS, on the 1st, 2nd,and 4th days of succot. It is simply called "SEIR", A GOAT, on the 3rd, 5th, 6th, and 7th days. The 70 bulls brought on the 7 days represent Israel's sacrifices for the 70 nations. Half of these, 35, are for the nations of Esav, half for those of Yishmael, who comes first, getting the bulls of days 1-2, 13+12; the 11 of the third day would give him too many- 36. Only SEIR appears on the 3rd day, a synonym for Esav, who starts out with 11; the 4th day gives Yishmael another 10, = 35. Esav then gets the remaining 9,8, and 7, = 35 (Vilna Gaon). But Yishmael and Esav don't father all 70 basic civilizations! Perhaps they represent the God-centered gentile civilizations, or the 2 bases of all civilization-- e.g. Yishmael the pleasure principle, Esav the power principle.


God gives Pinchas His ETERNAL COVENANT OF PEACE-- not just "peace", protection from Zimri's relatives. SHALOM, PEACE, is related to "shalem", whole or complete; it describes the proper order and relationship of everything in the universe, according to God's original and ultimate plan. When things are really out of wack, out of their natural order, they must be painfully brought back (cf. sex-as-a-snack, artificially divorced from procreation, Aids, chiropractic wrenching, Jews coming back to Israel). What SHOULD BE is an unfashionable expression in a world of "alternative life styles"; science, however, shows man a universe of absolute laws of precise detail, based on abstract concepts, halacha; he must search for a similar system to guide his actions, to fulfill his own role in the universe. Pinchas does a "violent" act; he disturbs the "peace", upsetting people and their lifestyle. Yet the ultimate result may be true peace or harmony-- IF the intentions are pure AND they stay that way (cf. Shas and Degel Hatorah). Otherwise, a worse state of havoc may result (cf. the Russian revolution). A "pacifist" who lets evil run rampant is AN ENEMY of ultimate peace, tho peaceful; conversely, one who assassinates a Hitler or Arafat may strike a mighty blow for peace (see Hirsch).

Moshe Weingarten of Israel Police, who administers The Jewish 1/4's refined upbeat Ohr Hachayim Shul, is a grandson of its 1948 chief rabbi; he deems peace a prime Jewish value, stressed by Aharon. He noted that peace must always be ardently pursued, even with Israel's worst enemies, e.g. the 7 nations of Canaan. It's also a prerequisite for Torah study, just as Torah scholars too must interrupt their learning and be involved in Jewish wars of Mitzva, e.g. self-defense.

PM Yitzchak Rabin z"l addressed the well-behaved, decent and educated members of Israel's religious peace movements, Netivot Shalom and Oz V'shalom (7/2/95); they and he denounced the American rabbis against the peace process as a non-representative minority, who criticize Israel's government without joining its society. Rabin passionately and cogently defended his efforts to attain peace, both on moral and practical grounds; even the greatest winner is a loser in a war with modern weaponry; we also don't want to treat others as second-rate citizens, as we were treated thruout history; the lives of our soldiers and the spur to aliya of peace are far more important than the exact size of Israel. But many Israelis disagreed with all or part of his ideas, and/or their application, and elected Bibi, rather than Peres.

While impressed by Rabin, I was disturbed by the lack of critical feedback. Questions were not permitted, even to the other speakers, which seems most odd for an allegedly liberal religious gathering. While the PM may be too busy to answer ?? from the audience (tho they could have been limited to 10-15 minutes), the other speakers weren't-- a discussion of Rabin's points could have followed his departure. I personally would have challenged his assumption that the Arabs also want peace (if not, why make ourselves more vulnerable by giving them land and power?); his arguments against the huge human and financial cost of defending a few score families in the middle of Hebron are cogent; the simple solution however, is to restore Hebron as a viable Jewish community by adding thousands of apartments, linking Kiryat Arba and Hebron; each terrorist attack should bring the most (perhaps only) effective deterrent-- 500 more Jewish apartments in Hebron; each few months unaccompanied by terrorism might be rewarded by more arab self-government. The liberal democrats abroad, whom Rabin and Peres so admired, would certainly not tolerate any city being Hitlerian Judenrein or all white by KKK decree; the National Guard would be called out to protect even one family so threatened-- a fortiori, Tzahal must so protect Jews in Israel. Secular Israelis ignore the only ultimate solution to the demographic problem-- that they too live naturally, rather than narcissistic Western style, and fill Tel Aviv's discos and beaches with lots of good little secular babies.

We have magnificent Hebrew moral expositions of Tanach by Oz V'Shalom's Prof. Uriel Simon in our video library. He attacks Achav for ignoring the evil methods used by Izevel to obtain the vineyard of Navat; those in power keep their own hands and souls clean by having others do their dirty work, with no ?? asked. But our Torah teaches that rulers must investigate and eliminate sins done by their aides for their benefit. I unexpectedly experienced Prof. Simon's message when I dropped in on an outdoor rally of Oz V'Shalom-- as Simon himself was speaking, I handed a relative, Hadassah Berry, one of these study sheets; a policeman came over and ordered me to leave at once in a rude threatening manner, for distributing other literature at the Oz V'Shalom rally on public property; he refused to let me explain. Are Prof. Simon and Oz V'shalom responsible for such police tactics, in "protecting" their own rally? Were they aware of them? Was the policeman authorized to act as he did?


Zealotry leads to censorship-- control over what others read, write, and speak (or forcing them to voice "politically correct" ideas, e.g. singing secular "Hatikva" and displaying the flag). One can ignore an idea or fight it with convincing arguments, urging others to do likewise. It's quite a different matter when he tries to FORCE an author not to publish and distribute, or to punish or restrain a potential reader. Many authorites considered Ben Sira time-wasting nonsense (e.g. Rambam, Introd. to Chelek), but none forbade it; see M. Carmilly-Weinberger's intensive study CENSORSHIP AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION IN JEWISH HISTORY (Y.U. `77)-- Jewry was virtually free of censorship until 2-300 years ago, despite its perilous position.

Censorship shows lack of confidence in one's own teachings and authority. Economic and political considerations often lie behind alleged religious justifications-- ideological, halachic and moral. Apologetic fears of non-Jewish reactions were often involved. The Council of the 4 Lands tried to control all printing and importation of books. They even banned an edition of the talmud at a competitor's request, ordering it to be burnt (p.194)! German rabbis vigorously protested (cf. Rav Shach's attacks on the Steinsaltz Talmud, a prelude to his pupils' Artscrolls Talmud). Rabbi Hananya Teitelbaum persecuted those who published Zionist works in Hungary (P. 204). The Badatz bans all video, rather than just its abuse. Rambam describes bad people and fanatics, superficial and of limited understanding, who will condemn his Mishna Torah, destined to become the one such book to survive (Igeret L' HaMaor Hagadol, 24b). Targum and Feldheim will not publish Zionist books.

Jerusalem, despite, or because of, its potential for true peace, is meanwhile prone to belligerent intolerance; its de facto Haredi Chief Rabbinate took away the kashrut certificate of the Conservative Youth Hostel some years back, tastelessly denouncing fellow Jews, until they were forced, by court order, to restore it-- a chillul hashem? Hillel, however, pointed out how one who drowns another winds up drowned himself (Avot 1:7). The boards of the adjacent Conservative Synagogue and a nearby Reform shtiebel banned these study sheets, as our viewpoint is modern Zionist Orthodox. Another Reform group banned them when we questioned feminism. So several local yeshivot and synagogues banned the Steinsaltz Talmud and our work, lest modernity enter their portals. A warlike stance by the "religious" drives Jews away from Torah. An open non-coercive approach (e.g. that of Pardes, Israelight, Reshit Yerushalayim, The Shalom Hartman Institute and Ohr Hatorah) has brought many Jews much closer to God and Torah.


Pinchas is praised in Psalms (106:28-31): "THEN THEY JOINED THEMSELVES TO BAAL P'OR... THEY PROVOKED HIM TO ANGER... PINCHAS STOOD UP, EXECUTED JUDGMENT, AND THE PLAGUE STOPPED. THAT'S CONSIDERED HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS FOR ALL GENERATIONS, ETERNALLY". On his death bed, Matisyahu describes Pinchas as father of, and model for, the Maccabees-- I Macc. 2:54,58. Pinchas headed a committee to investigate a deviant temple in Jewish Jordan (now Palestinian), which might have led to civil war against the 2 1/2 tribes there (Joshua 22:9-34). He's overjoyed to find everything kosher (see Bayos Hazman, P. 58). But when blessed Pinchas (over 300 years old!) later consults God, he's ordered to continue Israel's zealous religious civil war against Benyamin, who tolerated the sexual murder of the Giva Concubine; 25,000 Benyaminites died (Judges 20:27f). Pinchas was one of Yehoshua's spies. The Talmud and Midrash recall his life and works (e.g. San. 27b, 82, 106b, Lev. Rab. 37:4). Kabbala equates Prophet Pinchas with Eliyahu (perhaps in spirit?), another great peaceful zealot, who'll turn childrens' and parents' hearts back to each other (Pirke D' R. Eliezer 29). Some dispute this equation.

G. THE HAFTARA, I Kings 18:46-19:21,

describes the aftermath of Eliyahu's zeal. He temporarily brought the people back to God with his impressive demonstration on Mt. Carmel, killed the Baal prophets, and brought rain to the drought-ridden land; yet he had to flee from Jezabel; she and her idols retained popular support. He's taken from the world, but will return to herald Messiah-- true zealots can't function in a world so imperfect. Yet Eliyahu bows to King Achav, acknowledging his royal status-- Eliyahu, as Pinchas, can't be a national leader; an improved Achav can. So the late Lubavitcher Rebbe praised the returned sinner as the highest sort of Tzadik, who raises even the most mundane to holiness, in his Acharei Mos-K'doshim exposition in 5745 (p. 1942f). He claimed that his late non-observant brother's name, Yisroel Arye Leib, denotes a combination of a perfect tzadik (his childhood position) and a returned sinner (the Rebbe implies that he was such at death-- see our Balak study); the Rebbe did not attend his funeral; he interrupted his mourning daily to visit his mother, that she not know of her younger son's death at 43. Leibel's daughter, Dalia Rothman, lives in Rehovot, and remained close to the Rebbe.

Eliyahu is angry and depressed by Israel's quick reversion; God shows him that His Spirit's not found in noise and power, only in the sound of the finest silence (Hirsch-- cf. "We want Moshiach Now" with our quiet prayer in Kedusha for God's reappearance, via Moshiach; when a yeke goes Chabad, he ardently seeks Moshiach On-Time and prays exactly one hour after the permitted time-- heard from a Southern gentleman at the Bostoner Rebbe's grandson's wedding and from Rav G. Fleer). Eliyahu is to appoint Hazael as King of Syria, Jehu as King of Israel, and Elisha, a hard-working farmer, as his successor; only patient leaders, who are both temporal and spiritual, will eventually reconcile God and His creation. God retires Eliyahu, tho praising Pinchas-- Pinchas makes atonement for Israel, whereas Eliyahu condemns them, proclaiming that they ignored God's covenant, circumcision (Yalkut); God then made him attend every future brit mila, a witness that even secular Jews keep it!-- see The Eighth Day video.

Elisha, as Yehoshua, is the man for this hour; he accepts his radical new role without ?; he first parts from his parents and throws a farewell banquet for his workers (cf. Moshe's parting from Yitro). Otherwise insular Chatam Sofer (end, Nashim) notes that Jews in Israel must fill every profession, tho those abroad should just study Torah and let the gentiles run the country! But those who oppose seculr professions in the talmud ignore his distinction. A prophet rooted in life, Elisha doesn't expect such quick results; the ex-farmer is content to plod and plow forward yidel by yidel, little by little-- Per Hirsch, true God-connection must combine agriculture and Torah; so Yissachar inspired and supported himself by a bit of farming, tho his entrepreneur brother Z'vulun helped out, by doing the uninspiring marketing, haggling on the commodities exchange (Rashbam's view is similar).

If, as in 1997, we read Pinchas after the 17th of Tamuz, we read Jer. 1:1- 2:3, first of 3 haftarot of doom. Jeremiah was predestined to be the mocked and despised prophet of the imminent destruction of idolatrous Judah and Jerusalem. He felt inadequate. God promised to back him up and give him great power, despite the fierce opposition of the wicked. Jeremiah must also keep alive Jewish hope of eventual glorious redemption by God-- He remembers their plunge of faith, following Him into the bleak desert in their youth; eventually, all their persecutors will themselves be punished, their false claims to be Israel's replacement exposed.

The following links are from Google Ads.
We have no control over the content.