Questions and Concepts for Parsha Pinchas
(Numbers 25:10 - 30:1)
  1. Pinchas is one of the few Parshas named after an individual Jew. To appreciate the significance of this, not there is no parsha named Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Leah, Joseph, Moses, Aaron or David. The Parsha makes a point to mention Pinchas’s lineage, tracing it back to Aaron, of whom it is said, "Be of the disciples of Aaron, loving peace and pursuing peace, loving people, and bringing them closer to the Torah" (Pirkei Avot 1:12).
  2. Although Pinchas was the grandson of Aaron, he was not a Priest. This is due to the fact that Pinchas was born before the Priestly assignment took effect. As he was not "born to a Priest," he could not be considered one. However, God gave Pinchas the "covenant of peace" and brought him and his descendents into the priesthood forever. Pinchas eventually became the high priest. How does God's action in this case relate to the written Torah?
  3. Pinchas was zealous in his actions. His intentions were only "for the honor of Heaven" as God says it was "My vengeance." Pinchas did not fear doing this in the public view. It would appear he "judged" the situation correctly, and placed his own spiritual and material welfare to the side in order to carry out God’s will -- His Torah.
  4. Compare Pinchas’ "judging correctly" with Yeshua’s teachings from the Gospels, who says, "By which you judge, you will be judged." God is said to both punish and reward people, "measure for measure" (midah k'neged midah). Pinchas' judgement and actions result in his being given "The Covenant of Peace" by God. How is this "measure for measure?"
  5. Compare Pinchas' actions to those of Shimon and Levi when they killed the men of Shechem after their sister, Dinah had been violated (Genesis 34:1). Shimon and Levi are criticized by Jacob for this. Why is Pinchas praised for killing and Shimon and Levi criticized?
  6. Later in this Torah portion comes another story with "motive" at its center. The daughters of Tzelofchad seemingly requested something physical (a share in the Land of Israel). On the other hand, in a previous Parsha, we saw how Korach requested something spiritual. The outcome of these was that Korach was killed and the daughters of Tzelofchad were praised by God. Why?
  7. What do the stories of Shimon & Levi, Korach, Pinchas, and the daughters of Tzelofchad teach us about examining our motives according to God’s Torah? Compare this to the words from the "New Testament" found in Ya’acov ("James") 1:25.
  8. In Hebrew, the word for peace, (shalom), is derived from the root "shalem," meaning "whole" or "complete." To have "wholeness" (i.e., true shalom) that which divides must be removed. Thus peace is an active state and not passive. Sometimes it requires an act of violence to achieve this. In this Parsha, God sends a plague which claims the lives of 24,000 of His people who were sinning. After this, a final census is taken, and those remaining enter the land. Compare this entire historical scenario to the judgments found in the book of Revelation, which at the end bring God’s great and final shalom.
  9. Consider this concept:
    In this Parsha we read that there were three criteria concerning inheritance of the Land: To the more numerous [tribe] you shall increase their inheritance, and to the fewer you shall lessen their inheritance... Nevertheless the land shall be divided by lot ... (Numbers 26:54-55)

    To summarize, the Torah shows three aspects to the people's relationship with the land:

    1) Rational: population size and vocation determining the "portion"
    2) Seemingly arbitrary: "casting of lots"
    3) Intrinsic: pre-existence of a connection between the heir and the heritage

    These same three aspects may be found in our own lives. Things in life happen:

    1. Due to our rational abilities, choices and actions
    2. In a seemingly random and arbitrary manner
    3. At times that show us the sum and substance of who and what we are in God's plan

    Through a proper balance of; Torah study, prayer and performing of the commandments, we can thus learn that to live means:

    1. To develop and make use of the talents and abilities God gave us
    2. To recognize and rightly respond to the "mysterious" opportunities that come our way
    3. To seek the truth of God regarding His plan for us in this lifetime