Pinchas 5780-2020

“The Pain of Giving Reproof”
(Updated and revised from Parashat Pinchas 5761-2001)

The haftarah for parashat Pinchas, selected from the book of Jeremiah, opens with Jeremiah’s first two prophecies concerning an almond-wood staff that is shown to him by G-d, and the vision of the boiling cauldron that is bubbling over from the North. The boiling cauldron symbolizes that the evil that will come from the north–the Babylonian hoards, led by Nebuchadnetzer who will destroy the Temple. But, what is the symbol of the almond-wood staff? Could it be that G-d is trying to show the prophet that there should never be enthusiasm when delivering messages of reproof, no matter how deserving of reproof the people of Israel are? Conveying tragic messages should always be a painful experience for the prophet.

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