Friday, August 1, 2014

Parshat Pinchas


Numbers: (25:10-30:1)

In the conclusion of last weeks Parsha, the Torah described how Zimri the son of Salu from the tribe of Shimon, and a Midiante woman, Cozbi the daughter of Zur (an elite member of the Midianite nation) came together inappropriately before Moses and the entire congregation. Pinchas rose up from the congregation and killed both Zimri and Cozbi, thus halting the plague that had killed 24,000 people of the Children of Israel.

This weeks Parsha, named for Pinchas, the son of Elazar, the son of Aaron, opens with G-ds approval of Pinchass actions, who has turned My wrath away from the Children of Israel, in that he was zealous for My sake among them, so that I didnt consume the Children of Israel in my jealousy (25:11).

G-d gives Pinchas a covenant of peace and of an everlasting priesthood. G-d also orders Moses to distress the Midianites and to destroy them because they distressed you with their wiles, with which they tricked you in the matter of Peor, and in the matter of Cozbi, the daughter of the chief of Midian, their sister, who was killed on the day of the plague caused by the incident at Peor (25:18).

G-d then orders Moses and Elazar, the son of Aaron, to conduct another census of the nation, counting each male of twenty years of age and older, that are able to go forth to war in Israel. Among the list of names recorded, the Torah mentions Zelophehad the son of Hepher, a descendent from the tribe of Menassah, who had no sons but five daughters whose names are given: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah and Tirzah.

In the midst of the list of names, we read of the laws of inheritance in Israel. G-d speaks to Moses at the beginning of chapter 26 and tells him that the land will be apportioned through a lottery system according to the names of the tribes of their fathers they shall inherit (26:55), though the large tribes are to be given a larger portion than the smaller tribes.

The daughters of Zelophehad then come to Moses and Elazar and tell them that their father died in the desert, for his own sins, but that he had left no sons to inherit his land.

They ask, Why should our fathers name be eliminated from his family because he had no son? Give us a portion along with our fathers brother (27:4).

Moses brings their cause before G-d and G-d recognizes their right to their fathers land, saying What Zelophehads daughters are saying is right. You must certainly give them property as an inheritance among their fathers relatives and turn their fathers inheritance over to them (27:7).

G-d then pronounces the law that states that if a man passes away and has no son, his property must be handed over to his daughter. If he has no daughter, the inheritance is then transferred to the mans brothers and if he has no brothers, to his fathers brothers. If the father has no brothers, the inheritance is to be handed over to the nearest relative in his clan.

G-d pronounces, This is to be a legal statute for the Children of Israel, as G-d commanded Moses (27:11).

G-d then orders Moses to stand on the summit of Mount Abarim, from which Moses would be able to see the land of Israel but not enter it. G-d tells him that You shall see it, and then he will be gathered onto his people (27:12).

The Ohr HaChaim comments that this seeing was a spiritual vision of the land, rather than just a physical one.

G-d states that this is Because you disobeyed My command in the desert of Zin when the congregation quarreled, to sanctify Me through the water before their eyes; these were the waters of strife at Kadesh, in the desert of Zin (27:14).

G-d appoints Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom there is spirit as Mosess successor (27:18). Moses lays his hands on Joshua and commands him in the presence of Elazar and the entire congregation, according to G-ds command.

The Parsha concludes with the specific details of various sacrificial offerings, including those to be brought daily, on the Sabbath, Rosh Chodesh (the New Moon), Passover, Shavuout, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, and Shemini Atzeret.

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