Pinchas (Numbers 25:10-30:1)

[Remember, the humor follows the commentary.]

        The Israelites are nearing the end of their journey and have most of the sturm und drang of the past 40 years behind them.  This week’s portion has a tone of tying things up and preparing in a concrete manner to enter the Promised Land.   There is a new census.  The population of potential soldiers has shrunk a bit, from 603,550 to 601,730.  Biggest % decrease among the tribes: Shimon, 63%.  Biggest % increase: Menasheh, 64%.  The new generation is coming to the fore.  Pinchas, Aaron’s grandson, has saved the people (more on that below).  The Promised Land is allotted to the tribes, and the daughters of Zelophehad of Menasheh petition successfully for their father’s portion, since he had no sons.  Moses publicly designates Joshua as his successor.  And then we read  about the daily sacrifices and those for the Sabbath, Rosh Hodesh, Pesach, Shavuot, Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur, each day of Sukkot, and Shimini Atzeret.  This is where the reading for Rosh Hodesh and all those second scroll readings for Shabbat Rosh Hodesh and the holidays come from.

        Let’s look more closely at the aftermath of the Pinchas’ vigilante-ish killing of Zimri (son of a chieftain of the tribe of Shimon) and Cozbi (a Midianite princess):  He is praised by the Lord and rewarded with the hereditary priesthood.  That is unexpected, as there are already laws in place concerning capital crimes and due process, which Pinchas apparently ignored.  The rabbis are uncomfortable with zealotry and vigilantism, which is a reason the haftarah assigned to this portion, Kings I 18:46-19:21, which deals with the Biblical über-zealot, Elijah, is only read about 5 times a century, when Pinchas is read before the 17th of Tammuz, like this year.  Pinchas is described as an exception, whose genuinely righteous wrath saved most of Israel from the plague.  According to Rashi, since Pinchas had expended his wrath upon the desecrators through his zealotry, the Lord did not need to expend wrath to destroy the Jewish people (see ).  In 25:12, we read that the Lord grants Pinchas “My covenant of peace” (JPS translates as “My pact of friendship” for some unknown reason).  Usually, the scribe will write the word “shalom” in that verse with a break in the letter vav, signifying that “peace that results from violence, even required violence, is defective.” ( )  Rabbi Brad Hirschfeld writes (thanks, Stanley), “Pinchas is indeed blessed by God, but the blessing reflects both what’s missing in Pinchas and the fact that zealots such as he, should spend their time removed from the daily life of normal people.  Pinchas is blessed with Divine peace. Clearly something which neither he nor any religious zealot possess…Pinchas and his descendants are guaranteed that they will be priests — people who serve in the ideal and disconnected world of the Tabernacle and later, the Temple….But anyone who needs to spend their whole life at either Disneyland or the Temple has a problem. The problem? Not distinguishing between the real and the ideal, not accepting that life is about maintaining a healthy tension between the two. That is the problem of all zealots….Pinchas was given the inner peace needed to resist his own religious zealotry and a safe place to go when that same zeal needed to be expressed.” ( )  Perhaps that peace is also given to Elijah in the haftarah, in which he learns the value of a “still, small voice.”

Shabbat shalom,


British judge tackles escaping prisoner
By Bailey Johnson

(CBS) – They do things a little differently in England. For one, the judges all wear robes and powdered wigs. They also know how to lay down the law personally, as one prisoner reportedly discovered when he was tackled by a judge while trying to escape from court.

“The jury were just leaving when the defendant jumped up and ran across the clerk’s bench to get to the judge’s door,” prosecutor Rupert Gregory told Reuters.

“As he went through the door, his honor Judge Marks Moore grabbed him round the throat to try to bring him down.” Gregory continued. Judge Douglas Marks Moore, for the record, is 60-years-old; the defendant, named Paul Reid, is 34-years-old.

The defendant, who had been convicted of a sex offense, broke free from his honor’s grip and ran down a hallway. With no one else to give chase, Moore sprinted after him.

“Just as Mr Reid was about to open a push-handle fire door,” Gregory told Reuters, “Marks
Moore rugby-tackled him around the throat and waist and brought him crashing to the ground, landing on top of him.”

Reid had pulled a similar stunt two years earlier, that time successfully escaping from court. Clearly Judge Marks Moore was not on the bench that day.
 [The incident was also featured at as #9 of 9 Acts of Vigilantism Straight Out of a Comic Book By: Paul K Pickett,  Karl SmallwoodApril 14, 2011]

The Sexes: The Lavender Panthers  [abridged]  Time Magazine, Oct. 8, 1973

Four San Francisco teen-agers recently got the surprise of their young lives. Tooling around in their souped-up car looking for a little fun, they spotted two homosexuals leaving the Naked Grape, a well-known gay bar. The youths roared to a stop, jumped out of their car and began to push the homosexuals around. Suddenly a brawny band, led by a man in a clerical collar, leaped from a gray Volkswagen bus and lit into them. “We didn’t even ask questions,” said the Rev. Ray Broshears, 38. “We just took out our pool cues and started flailing ass.” The teen-agers fled into the night, only to return ten minutes later, begging for their car: “Look, man, we don’t want no trouble.”

The group they most assuredly did not want trouble with was the Lavender Panthers, a stiff-wristed team of gay vigilantes who have taken to the streets of San Francisco to protect their confreres against just such attacks. Formed by the Rev. Ray, a Pentecostal Evangelist and known homosexual, the Panthers patrol the streets nightly. Their purpose is to strike terror in the hearts of “all those young punks who have been beating up my faggots.”

A pudgy, confessed coward, Ray says he finally got fed up on the Fourth of July after he had complained to police that some young toughs were setting off fireworks in a parking lot outside his Helping Hands Gay Community Service Center. According to Ray, when the cops arrived all they did was tell the youths he had ratted on them. The toughs proceeded to beat him senseless. Two days later Ray announced that the Lavender Panthers were coming out.

The basic band numbers 21 homosexuals, including two lesbians who are reputedly the toughest hombres in the lot. All of the Panthers know judo, karate, Kung Fu or plain old alley fighting. For gays without defensive skills, the Panthers hold training sessions with instruction from a judo brown belt and a karate expert.

Beyond their stipulation against the Panthers’ carrying guns, the police have not interfered with the patrols, nor have they received any complaints from anyone the Panthers have accosted. Indeed, the Panthers have gotten more heat from their own brethren than from the police. Many of the city’s affluent gays do not like the idea of hard-eyed homosexual toughs causing commotion in the streets. But Ray insists that his Draconian measures are necessary. “Middle America has always had a little tinge of homophobia,” he says. “But I’ve had it up to here. All this queer bashing has simply got to stop.”

[also included in 6 Real-Life Vigilantes Crazier Than Batman | Cracked.com  as #5]


Lecture on population   Wednesday 08th, June 2011

A Teacher is lecturing on population:  In India after every 10 seconds, a woman gives birth to a kid.
Lalu stands up: We must find and stop her!

——————–   by Zay’Quan Marquette Tomlinson, Nov 29, 2010

Before you go and criticize the younger generation, just remember who raised them.

Quotations about Generations

There was no respect for youth when I was young, and now that I am old, there is no respect for age – I missed it coming and going.  ~J.B. Priestly

Generation Gap:  A chasm, amorphously situated in time and space, that separates those who have grown up absurd from those who will, with luck, grow up absurd.  ~Bernard Rosenberg, Dictionary for the Disenchanged, 1972

The older generation thought nothing of getting up at five every morning – and the younger generation doesn’t think much of it either.  ~John J. Welsh


Daffynitions [a few]

Afterthought: A tardy sense of prudence that prompts one to try to shut his mouth about the time he has put his foot in it.

Candidate: A person who asks for money from the wealthy and votes from the poor to protect them from each other.

Conscience: A still, small voice that tells you when you are about to get caught.

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