Torah Weekly

For the week ending 8 July 2023 / 19 Tamuz 5783

Parshat Pinchas

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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Hashem tells Moshe to inform Pinchas that he will receive Hashem’s "covenant of peace" in reward for his bold action — executing Zimri and the Midianite princess Kozbi. Hashem commands Moshe to maintain a state of enmity with the Midianites, who lured the Jewish People into sin. Moshe and Elazar are told to count the Jewish People. The Torah lists the names of the families in each tribe. The total number of males eligible to serve in the army is 601,730. Hashem instructs Moshe how to allot the Land of Israel to the Bnei Yisrael. The number of the Levites' families is recorded.

Tzlofchad's daughters file a claim with Moshe. In the absence of a brother, they request their late father's portion in the Land. Moshe asks Hashem for the ruling, and Hashem tells Moshe that their claim is just. The Torah teaches the laws and priorities which determine the order of inheritance.

Hashem tells Moshe that he will ascend a mountain and view the Land that the Jewish People will soon enter, although Moshe himself will not enter it. Moshe asks Hashem to designate the subsequent leader, and Hashem selects Yehoshua bin Nun. Moshe ordains Yehoshua as his successor in the presence of the entire nation.

This Torah portion concludes with special teachings of the service in the Beit Hamikdash.


A Spoonful of Sugar

“On the tenth day of the seventh month there shall be a holy convocation for you and you shall afflict yourselves. (29:7)

My right knee’s been playing me up recently and the doctor told me to use a stick. So hobbling around the Yeshiva, I came across an old friend and veteran Mentors’ Mission Mentor, Rabbi Ovadia Kranz. He said, “Wow! You’re a youngster! You shouldn’t be using a stick.” “I know I’m a youngster — but this knee keeps arguing with me about that.” He said, “Let me tell you a story. A couple of months ago, I did something to my shoulder and my back. The doctor said that it was probably mild arthritis and sent me to the gym to do physio. I used to go twice a week. Next to me in the gym was this guy who had a knee-replacement. He was working out on a machine on the knee curl machine. He used to krechs (groan) and complain all the time about the pain the treatment was causing his knee, and I used to krechs about the pain the shoulder pulls were giving my back and shoulders. So, one day I said to him, ‘Max.’ His name was Max, by the way. ‘Max. I’ve got an idea. Let’s swap machines. You do the shoulder pulls and I’ll do the knee curls, and neither of us will be in pain.’ ‘Yeah,’ he said, ‘but neither of us is going to get better either.’”

“A spoonful of sugar” may make the medicine go down. But it must go down one way of the other. If you just take the sugar and leave out the medicine, nothing’s going to change. Every challenge, every spiritual exercise that Hashem sends us is uniquely designed to fix a spiritual dose of arthritis or heal a spiritual knee replacement. If we don’t accept the “Doctor’s Orders” — we may avoid short term pain but we will never fix the underlying problem.

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