Parsha Pinchas: The Spear, A Dead Man, And The Sisters (Num.25:10 – 30:1)
It’s easy to read Pinchas and think that with a just argument Hashem is open to reevaluate some Halacha, and I agree with that. It is also easy to look towards Pinchas for legitimizing righteous rage, and I would also agree with that. When I re-read Pinchas a few days ago I realized that this week’s portion is also about how often Hashem, Torah, Judaism, and religion as a whole is misrepresented.
Part of the human condition are conscience acts carried out in hopes of receiving a positive return. Pinchas and the five daughters of Zelophehad (Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah) are perfect examples of this trait. The circumstances surrounding Pinchas and the five sisters are very different but they both are the direct result of others misrepresenting what Jews and Judaism is.
Our portion begins with its namesake, Pinchas or Phinehas. Pinchas is rewarded by Hashem with a pact resulting in friendship and a special place within the priesthood. What did he do to deserve such special attention? He speared two peopleJ. Throwing a spear through the torso of another human being is out of the question in this day and age but in context its easy to see why Pinchas found favor in the eyes of Hashem. The two he killed were misrepresenting Torah and the society the ancient Hebrews had constructed for themselves under the guidance of Hashem and Moses. There seems to be some question as to the nature of the damned’s display of defiance but they were openly misrepresenting what the ancient Hebrews believed and stood for and by default what we as modern Jews project as our belief system. Pinchas and his spear corrected what had the potential to be a devastating misconception of how Jews worship if not remedied immediately.
Traditionally inheritance had, up to this point, passed from father to sons not father to daughters. When Zelophehad died he left five capable yet unmarried daughters and no sons. The five sisters clearly distraught approach Moses and petition for what they felt was rightfully theirs. Hashem agrees and the mourning sisters are granted as an inheritance the land that was allocated to their father. What is interesting is while the daughters are stating their case they point out how their family stood by Hashem’s commandments and with Moses during Korach’s attempted coup. Clearly a top down father to son line of inheritance is a gross misrepresentation of how different sexes are viewed within Judaism, by correcting this misrepresentation of Hashem’s justice the five sisters were not only given what was rightfully theirs but they are immortalized in Torah.
Well. . . there you have it my new insight into Parsha Pinchas and how two very different circumstances corrected outside views of Judaism. Think I represented the portion well? Comment below or message me: Jeremiah@punktorah.org Twitter: @circlepitbimah