Pinchas 5761-2001

"The Pain of Giving Reproof"

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 boiling cauldron that is bubbling over from its northern side. The meaning of the cauldron is that the evil 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 be no enthusiasm in the prophet's reproof, no matter how deserving the people of Israel are of reproof? Conveying tragic messages should always be a painful experience for the prophet.

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