Monthly Archives: July 2016

Pinchas (Numbers 25:10 -30:1)

The ancient rabbis did not like vigilantism.  We see that in the story of Pinchas, the grandson of Aaron who skewers Cozbi (the Midianite princess) and Zimri (a chieftain of the tribe of Shimon), putting an abrupt halt to the … Continue reading

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Balak (Numbers 22:2 – 25:9)

(Singing) “Summertime, and I don’t feel like writing.”  Comments are from June 25, 2010 . Stay cool. Last week: life, death, purity and impurity, despair and hope.  This week: a frightened king, a puffed-up sorcerer, and a talking ass (literal, not … Continue reading

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Chukkat (Numbers 19:1 – 22:1)

This week’s portion concerns purity, death, and water. Chapter 19 includes the laws of the red heifer, parah adumah, which is needed for the ritual purification of those who have come into contact with a dead body.  An unblemished, completely … Continue reading

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Korach (Numbers 16:1 – 18:32)

When we last left the Israelites, they were still coming to grips with the prospect of spending the next 38+ years in the wilderness instead of the Promised Land.  Their response is not the usual whining but a series of … Continue reading

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Shelakh-lecha (Num. 13:1 – 15:41)

This week: disaster.  Moses very publicly sends 12 chieftains into the Promised Land on a fact-finding mission concerning the people (strong or weak? few or many?), the country (good or bad?), towns (open or fortified?), and the land itself (rich … Continue reading

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