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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 1: Fri Jul 13, 2012 1:43 pm
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Parshat Pinchas

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Pinchas(Numbers 25:10-30:1)
Credibility and Respect

In this week's Torah portion, Moses speaks about the laws of inheritance vis-a-vis the future apportionment of the Land of Israel. Five sisters - orphaned from their father, Tzlafchad - challenge one aspect of Moses' ruling.

When you put the story of Tzlafchad's daughters in the context of its times, it belies belief. Although equality of the sexes seems completely natural today, we must remember that the feminist movement only began roughly 100 years ago. For thousands of years before that, women had no say, no role and certainly no position in any society on earth.

Bearing that in mind, let's think about what happens with Tzlafchad's daughters.

For five young girls of no particular lineage to be granted an audience with the national leader would be unthinkable. For them to question his judgment would be impossible. For him then to agree with them would just not happen.

Apart from the respect for women that is light years ahead of its times, I want to point out something else. Even after such an episode occurred, for it to be then written in the history books of the nation would be absolutely unimaginable. How can Moses possibly maintain his credibility as "the lawgiver" if five young girls know the law better than he does?!


One of the many aspects of Torah that always impresses me is its honesty. The Author of this book has nothing to hide and nothing to prove. The laws are unreservedly challenging. The stories do not always paint even the greatest of characters in a positive light. There is no fear of upsetting or offending anyone. Someone so seemingly disinterested in convincing his audience that he is G-d, is someone with supreme confidence that he really is G-d.



.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 2: Fri Aug 10, 2012 7:16 am
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Very nice, but there is also a darker and more controversial side to Pinchas that's too easy to sidestep.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 3: Fri Aug 10, 2012 6:28 pm
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Jayhawker Soule wrote:

Very nice, but there is also a darker and more controversial side to Pinchas that's too easy to sidestep.

Please explicate.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 4: Fri Aug 10, 2012 11:00 pm
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Notice anything unusual about my avatar?

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 5: Sat Aug 11, 2012 12:40 am
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Jayhawker Soule wrote:

Notice anything unusual about my avatar?


No idea what you mean. I don't come around as much as I once did, and if you're referring to your being on probation, I don't know what the issue was or is.

I suspected that you were referring to the massacre narratives in Pinchas, but I don't want to put words in your mouth. I don't know what else there would be. Feel free to PM me.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 6: Sat Aug 11, 2012 2:31 am
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I too thought about the man after whom this parasha was named. Upon reading the OP, I noticed that the two cases are similar. The quandry mentioned is resolved on favor of familial stability and provision for the widow and orphan trumps paternalistic inheritence rights, even in a paternalistic society.

The issues of familial stability and provision for the widow and orphan are also in play in the case of Pinchas. Just as HaTorah permitted an exception to standard inheritence, it also gives us a proper understanding of due process. In a time when universal due process was more rare that matriarchy, HaTorah makes provision for it. However, when a society allows people to scoff at the law simply because "everyone is doing it" and because of various due process workarounds, that society becomes lawless.

Now, I know, we have seen a few cases of vigilante justice of late and if they are permitted to become the rule, then this to is lawlessness. The principle of due process still stands. Had HaShem not intervened, Pinchas would himself have had to defend himself in a court of law. That makes this not only the exception to the rule of due process, but the exception that proves the rule of due process. In the nations of the time where universal due process was not observed, this would hardly be worth mentioning. However, in a society with universal due process this exception shows how lawlessness can be curbed when due process is subject to the law and not the other way around.

At least that is my take on it.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 7: Sat Aug 11, 2012 2:25 pm
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cnorman18 wrote:

Jayhawker Soule wrote:

Notice anything unusual about my avatar?

No idea what you mean. I don't come around as much as I once did, and if you're referring to your being on probation, I don't know what the issue was or is.

I don't recall. I assume, like the mark of cain or the scarlet letter, that I'll be wearing it for sometime. But this has little to do with the thread.

cnorman18 wrote:

Jayhawker Soule wrote:

Notice anything unusual about my avatar?

I suspected that you were referring to the massacre narratives in Pinchas, but I don't want to put words in your mouth. I don't know what else there would be. Feel free to PM me.

Notice the broken vav in shalom. In a system where every defect, every error, could render a scroll unfit, two anomalies occur in Pinchas as discussed here:

Quote:
There are two often overlooked textual clues in the Hebrew text. There are lots of scribal oddities in the Torah: big letters, small letters and upside down letters. But with one exception, if any letter is broken or split, the Torah is not kosher. Here, the 'vuv' in the word for peace, shalom, is 'broken' and the reverse is true; if the 'vuv' is written normally, the Torah is not kosher. In other words the Torah seems to be saying God wants to give Pinchas peace, but it cannot be a whole peace, because of his actions. This reminds me of King David, who wasn't allowed to build the temple because he was a man of war. The second textual oddity is in Pinchas' name itself. It can be written with a 'yod' (or not). But when his name appears the first time in our parasha the 'yod' is written smaller than usual. Now the 'yod' is normally interpreted as God's presence, (so for example Hoshua has his name changed to Yehoshua when he takes over from Moses to signify that God is with him). I see the diminuition of the 'yod' in Pinchas' name to represent that God's presence has withdrawn from his violent actions.

For those who doubt the cancerous potential of the Pinchas Legacy, one need only look at the killer of Medgar Evers:

Quote:
In January 1966, De La Beckwith, along with a number of other members of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, was subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee to testify about Klan activities. Although De La Beckwith gave his name when asked by the committee (unlike other witnesses, such as Sam Bowers, who invoked the Fifth Amendment in response to that question), he answered no other substantive questions. In the following years, Beckwith became a leader in the segregationist Phineas Priesthood, an offshoot of the white supremacist Christian Identity Movement. The group was known for their hostility towards African Americans, Jews, Catholics, and foreigners. [wiki]

Creative midrash often allows us to make lemonade out of lemons, but Pinchas strikes me as a case of attempting to make holy water out of arsenic. Certainly it is an ugly irony to see the name of a vigilante such as Pinchas linked to the qualities of "Credibility and Respect".

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 8: Sat Aug 11, 2012 6:35 pm
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Jayhawker Soule wrote:

cnorman18 wrote:

Jayhawker Soule wrote:

Notice anything unusual about my avatar?

No idea what you mean. I don't come around as much as I once did, and if you're referring to your being on probation, I don't know what the issue was or is.

I don't recall. I assume, like the mark of cain or the scarlet letter, that I'll be wearing it for sometime. But this has little to do with the thread.

You have to ASK to have probationary status removed, after a mandatory 30 days. It's been three years. I think you'll be forgiven.
Quote:

cnorman18 wrote:

Jayhawker Soule wrote:

Notice anything unusual about my avatar?

I suspected that you were referring to the massacre narratives in Pinchas, but I don't want to put words in your mouth. I don't know what else there would be. Feel free to PM me.

Notice the broken vav in shalom. In a system where every defect, every error, could render a scroll unfit, two anomalies occur in Pinchas as discussed here:

Quote:
There are two often overlooked textual clues in the Hebrew text. There are lots of scribal oddities in the Torah: big letters, small letters and upside down letters. But with one exception, if any letter is broken or split, the Torah is not kosher. Here, the 'vuv' in the word for peace, shalom, is 'broken' and the reverse is true; if the 'vuv' is written normally, the Torah is not kosher. In other words the Torah seems to be saying God wants to give Pinchas peace, but it cannot be a whole peace, because of his actions. This reminds me of King David, who wasn't allowed to build the temple because he was a man of war. The second textual oddity is in Pinchas' name itself. It can be written with a 'yod' (or not). But when his name appears the first time in our parasha the 'yod' is written smaller than usual. Now the 'yod' is normally interpreted as God's presence, (so for example Hoshua has his name changed to Yehoshua when he takes over from Moses to signify that God is with him). I see the diminuition of the 'yod' in Pinchas' name to represent that God's presence has withdrawn from his violent actions.

For those who doubt the cancerous potential of the Pinchas Legacy, one need only look at the killer of Medgar Evers:

Quote:
In January 1966, De La Beckwith, along with a number of other members of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, was subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee to testify about Klan activities. Although De La Beckwith gave his name when asked by the committee (unlike other witnesses, such as Sam Bowers, who invoked the Fifth Amendment in response to that question), he answered no other substantive questions. In the following years, Beckwith became a leader in the segregationist Phineas Priesthood, an offshoot of the white supremacist Christian Identity Movement. The group was known for their hostility towards African Americans, Jews, Catholics, and foreigners. [wiki]

Creative midrash often allows us to make lemonade out of lemons, but Pinchas strikes me as a case of attempting to make holy water out of arsenic. Certainly it is an ugly irony to see the name of a vigilante such as Pinchas linked to the qualities of "Credibility and Respect".


Here's my take; I've said for a long time that the Torah itself can be overruled by rational human judgment, and very often has been; the broken vav is evidence that that process was going on from the very earliest times. The text celebrates Pinchas as a hero, but this clue in the written text indicates otherwise -- a reminder to those who read or taught from this text that all is not as it appears. The letters of the Torah may not be deleted nor added to -- but they can be subtly altered to indicate other possibilities, and were. A fascinating example. Thanks!

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 9: Sat Aug 11, 2012 9:39 pm
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cnorman18 wrote:

Jayhawker Soule wrote:

cnorman18 wrote:

Jayhawker Soule wrote:

Notice anything unusual about my avatar?

No idea what you mean. I don't come around as much as I once did, and if you're referring to your being on probation, I don't know what the issue was or is.

I don't recall. I assume, like the mark of cain or the scarlet letter, that I'll be wearing it for sometime. But this has little to do with the thread.

You have to ASK to have probationary status removed, after a mandatory 30 days. It's been three years. I think you'll be forgiven.
Quote:

cnorman18 wrote:

Jayhawker Soule wrote:

Notice anything unusual about my avatar?

I suspected that you were referring to the massacre narratives in Pinchas, but I don't want to put words in your mouth. I don't know what else there would be. Feel free to PM me.

Notice the broken vav in shalom. In a system where every defect, every error, could render a scroll unfit, two anomalies occur in Pinchas as discussed here:

Quote:
There are two often overlooked textual clues in the Hebrew text. There are lots of scribal oddities in the Torah: big letters, small letters and upside down letters. But with one exception, if any letter is broken or split, the Torah is not kosher. Here, the 'vuv' in the word for peace, shalom, is 'broken' and the reverse is true; if the 'vuv' is written normally, the Torah is not kosher. In other words the Torah seems to be saying God wants to give Pinchas peace, but it cannot be a whole peace, because of his actions. This reminds me of King David, who wasn't allowed to build the temple because he was a man of war. The second textual oddity is in Pinchas' name itself. It can be written with a 'yod' (or not). But when his name appears the first time in our parasha the 'yod' is written smaller than usual. Now the 'yod' is normally interpreted as God's presence, (so for example Hoshua has his name changed to Yehoshua when he takes over from Moses to signify that God is with him). I see the diminuition of the 'yod' in Pinchas' name to represent that God's presence has withdrawn from his violent actions.

For those who doubt the cancerous potential of the Pinchas Legacy, one need only look at the killer of Medgar Evers:

Quote:
In January 1966, De La Beckwith, along with a number of other members of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, was subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee to testify about Klan activities. Although De La Beckwith gave his name when asked by the committee (unlike other witnesses, such as Sam Bowers, who invoked the Fifth Amendment in response to that question), he answered no other substantive questions. In the following years, Beckwith became a leader in the segregationist Phineas Priesthood, an offshoot of the white supremacist Christian Identity Movement. The group was known for their hostility towards African Americans, Jews, Catholics, and foreigners. [wiki]

Creative midrash often allows us to make lemonade out of lemons, but Pinchas strikes me as a case of attempting to make holy water out of arsenic. Certainly it is an ugly irony to see the name of a vigilante such as Pinchas linked to the qualities of "Credibility and Respect".


Here's my take; I've said for a long time that the Torah itself can be overruled by rational human judgment, and very often has been; the broken vav is evidence that that process was going on from the very earliest times. The text celebrates Pinchas as a hero, but this clue in the written text indicates otherwise -- a reminder to those who read or taught from this text that all is not as it appears. The letters of the Torah may not be deleted nor added to -- but they can be subtly altered to indicate other possibilities, and were. A fascinating example. Thanks!
And an excellent commentary. Thank you!

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 10: Sat Aug 11, 2012 10:54 pm
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Jayhawker Soule wrote:

cnorman18 wrote:

Jayhawker Soule wrote:

cnorman18 wrote:

Jayhawker Soule wrote:

Notice anything unusual about my avatar?

No idea what you mean. I don't come around as much as I once did, and if you're referring to your being on probation, I don't know what the issue was or is.

I don't recall. I assume, like the mark of cain or the scarlet letter, that I'll be wearing it for sometime. But this has little to do with the thread.

You have to ASK to have probationary status removed, after a mandatory 30 days. It's been three years. I think you'll be forgiven.
Quote:

cnorman18 wrote:

Jayhawker Soule wrote:

Notice anything unusual about my avatar?

I suspected that you were referring to the massacre narratives in Pinchas, but I don't want to put words in your mouth. I don't know what else there would be. Feel free to PM me.

Notice the broken vav in shalom. In a system where every defect, every error, could render a scroll unfit, two anomalies occur in Pinchas as discussed here:

Quote:
There are two often overlooked textual clues in the Hebrew text. There are lots of scribal oddities in the Torah: big letters, small letters and upside down letters. But with one exception, if any letter is broken or split, the Torah is not kosher. Here, the 'vuv' in the word for peace, shalom, is 'broken' and the reverse is true; if the 'vuv' is written normally, the Torah is not kosher. In other words the Torah seems to be saying God wants to give Pinchas peace, but it cannot be a whole peace, because of his actions. This reminds me of King David, who wasn't allowed to build the temple because he was a man of war. The second textual oddity is in Pinchas' name itself. It can be written with a 'yod' (or not). But when his name appears the first time in our parasha the 'yod' is written smaller than usual. Now the 'yod' is normally interpreted as God's presence, (so for example Hoshua has his name changed to Yehoshua when he takes over from Moses to signify that God is with him). I see the diminuition of the 'yod' in Pinchas' name to represent that God's presence has withdrawn from his violent actions.

For those who doubt the cancerous potential of the Pinchas Legacy, one need only look at the killer of Medgar Evers:

Quote:
In January 1966, De La Beckwith, along with a number of other members of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, was subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee to testify about Klan activities. Although De La Beckwith gave his name when asked by the committee (unlike other witnesses, such as Sam Bowers, who invoked the Fifth Amendment in response to that question), he answered no other substantive questions. In the following years, Beckwith became a leader in the segregationist Phineas Priesthood, an offshoot of the white supremacist Christian Identity Movement. The group was known for their hostility towards African Americans, Jews, Catholics, and foreigners. [wiki]

Creative midrash often allows us to make lemonade out of lemons, but Pinchas strikes me as a case of attempting to make holy water out of arsenic. Certainly it is an ugly irony to see the name of a vigilante such as Pinchas linked to the qualities of "Credibility and Respect".


Here's my take; I've said for a long time that the Torah itself can be overruled by rational human judgment, and very often has been; the broken vav is evidence that that process was going on from the very earliest times. The text celebrates Pinchas as a hero, but this clue in the written text indicates otherwise -- a reminder to those who read or taught from this text that all is not as it appears. The letters of the Torah may not be deleted nor added to -- but they can be subtly altered to indicate other possibilities, and were. A fascinating example. Thanks!
And an excellent commentary. Thank you!

And thank you too. Don't forget to PM Otseng to have that probation tag removed. I'm assuming you've been a good boy in the interim...!

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