Pinchas (Numbers 25:10-30:1)

So how was Pinchas punished for the vigilantism we read about last week? He wasn’t. In fact, the Lord praises him for his zealotry, saying that the passion Pinchas showed prevented the Lord from (equally passionately) wiping out the Israelite people. (Wait – isn’t that part of Moses’s job description, convincing the Lord not to destroy the erring Israelites?). Pinchas’s act atones for the sins of the people. Further, the Lord declares the descendants of Pinchas, for all time, will inherit the priesthood because of his own merit, not just because he’s Aaron’s grandson. Obviously, the rabbis have a hard time dealing with Pinchas, since he went outside a carefully established legal system to provide summary judgement all on his own. There is considerable puzzlement over verse 25:12, in which the Lord says to Moses, “Therefore, say: ‘Behold! I am giving him My covenant of peace’ (“brit shalom”).” A covenant of peace? The letter vav in shalom is typically written in the Torah scroll with a break in it, the rabbis having decided that peace derived from such violence is defective. Pinchas is set apart as a rare exception, a man acting with a purity of zeal for the Lord that we also associate with Elijah. In fact, the haftarah assigned to this portion, Kings I 18:46-19:21, is about Elijah and the revelation of the still, small voice. (We actually read Jeremiah 1:1-2:3 instead this year, and most years, the first of three Haftarot of Rebuke (or Warning) preceding the black fast of Tisha B’Av.). There are even stories equating Elijah with an incredibly long-lived Pinchas. So we may see the covenant of peace as akin in character to the still, small voice, a gift to Pinchas that allows him to gain control over his zealotry and the havoc it can wreak (murder, even justified, is murder), while continuing to serve the Lord intensely. Meanwhile, the Israelites are commanded to attack the Midianites because of their role in the Baal Pe’or scandal.

Then it’s back to the business at hand, preparing to take over the Promised Land. Another census of potential soldiers (males, aged 20+) is taken, and, while the overall population is little changed from the census in chapter 1 of Numbers (down 0.3%) , there are significant increases and decreases in specific tribes. Biggest percent increase: Menasheh (64%). Biggest decrease: Shimon (63%), which will continue to shrink; note that Zimri who consorted with Cozbi was a leader of that tribe. The land is to be apportioned in accordance with tribal populations. This is followed by a census of the tribe of Levi, which is not assigned a share of land. As the shares are apportioned, the 5 daughters of Zelophehad, who had died with no sons, petition to be allowed to inherit his share, and the Lord tells Moses they should. (Another amendment to laws of inheritance will come up next week.) Moses is told that he will “be gathered to his kin” once he sees the Promised Land from afar, and he asks that a suitable successor be chosen. This is Joshua, described as “an inspired man” (27:18), and he is formally presented to the community. The rest of the portion includes the offerings for everyday, the Sabbath, Rosh Chodesh (new moon), and each holiday. This is where we get all those second scroll readings for the Rosh Chodesh and the holidays.

Next week, we finish the book of Numbers, as the Israelites look back over their journey and forward to settlement of the Promised Land.

Shabbat shalom,



Vigilante Superheroes Fight New York Crime [excerpt]

In what seems to be an ever growing phenomenon, a group of crime fighters in New York who wear superhero fancy dress and have created their own persona’s claim to patrol the troubled city streets “to make life better for everyone”. In a story that was reported on by BBC Newsbeat, one of the calm and collected crime fighters shared that “We’re doing something (and) it’s better than sitting on our asses and complaining about it.”

These vigilante crime fighters even have Superhero-esque names to go with their fancy dress. Those interviewed go by the monikers of Nitro, Shortcut, Zero, Samaritan Prime and Battlestar. Sounds more like the names from Gladiators than superheroes. Actually, I think Nitro was in American Gladiators in the early 90s, lets hope there isn’t a law suit on the horizon.

Superheroes in Fancy Dress

When quizzed about his superhero fancy dress costume on the subject if he felt he looked “silly” in anyway Zero proclaimed “I really don’t. What we wear is gear. If it’s a little extra designed, it’s crazy cool, you know? I get a lot of compliments on it.”

The authorities say crime fighting should be left to the police, although the New York Police Department refused to comment on the group’s activities.


Top Biblical Personalities Found in Your Workplace (selected)

by Weekly Bang Staff Posted: 06-16-2008(Viewed 2762 times)

Abraham – Considered a pioneer in the field, founded the company through much family sacrifice

Moses – Left his current less desirable situation and brought his staff with him. Had to split the place after they worked him like a slave

Pharaoh – CEO whose ego plagues the company and eventually has to let people go

Joshua – Completed the full corporate takeover of Canaan and expanded the office locations countrywide

Jonah – Swallowed by a whale of a project, hasn’t been seen in months

Cain & Abel – Duo who always seem to being going to lunch/smoke breaks together, that is, until one had the other axed

Mordechai – As a consultant, his stubbornness and insider information helped save the company from disaster

Pinchas – Zealously took on corporate corruption and won

Bilam –Consultant/Contractor brought in to crush the competition, ended up being a loose canon

70 Zikainim [elders]–The board of directors

Isaac – Only has his job cause his father Abraham started the place


Statistical one-liners 

A new government 10 year survey cost $3,000,000,000 revealed that 3/4 of the people in America make up 75% of the population.
According to recent surveys, 51% of the people are in the majority.
According to a recent survey, 33% of the people say they participate in surveys.


Mathematical Population

The population of this country is 237 million.
104 million are retired.
That leaves 133 million to do the work.
There are 85 million in school,
which leave 48 million to do the work.
Of this there are 29 million employed by the federal government.
This leaves 19 million to do the work.
4 million are in the Armed Forces,
which leaves 15 million to do the work.
Take from the total the 14.8 million people who work for State and City Government and that leaves 200,000 to do the work.
There are 188,000 in hospitals,
so that leaves 12,000 to do the work.
Now, there are 11,998 people in Prisons.
That leaves Just two people to do the work. You and me.
And you’re just sitting there reading jokes all day!


Inheritance Quotes

I have also seen children successfully surmounting the effects of an evil inheritance. That is due to purity being an inherent attribute of the soul.
Mahatma Gandhi

Inheritance taxes are so high that the happiest mourner at a rich man’s funeral is usually Uncle Sam.
Olin Miller

Never say you know a man until you have divided an inheritance with him.
Johann Kaspar Lavater

The best inheritance a parent can give his children is a few minutes of his time each day.
Orlando A. Battista

The finest inheritance you can give to a child is to allow it to make its own way, completely on its own feet.
Isadora Duncan

Succession Planning

The boss called one of his employees into the office. “David,” he said, “you’ve been with the company for a year. You started off in the post room, one week later you were promoted to a sales position, and one month after that you were promoted to district manager of the sales department. Just four short months later, you were promoted to vice-chairman.”

“Now it’s time for me to retire, and I want you to take over the company. What do you say to that?”

“Thanks,” said David.

“Thanks?” the boss replied. “Is that all you can say?”

“I suppose not,” David said. “Thanks, Dad.”


Estate Planning

Dan was a single guy living at home with his father and working in the
family business. When he found out he was going to inherit a fortune when
his sickly father died, he decided he needed a wife with which to share
his fortune.

One evening at an investment club meeting he spotted the most beautiful
woman he had ever seen. Her natural beauty took his breath away. “I may
look like just an ordinary man,” he said to her, “but in just a few years,
my father will die, and I’ll inherit 20 million dollars.”

Impressed, the woman obtained his business card and three days later, she
became his stepmother.



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