Vayishlach 5780-2019

“The Massacre of Shechem, Can it be Justified?”
(Updated and revised from Vayishlach 5760-1999)

The rabbis are challenged deeply by the rape of Dina and the subsequent massacre of the men of Shechem by Simeon and Levi. They try valiantly to explain why Dinah was fated to suffer so horribly. They also debate whether the actions of Simeon and Levi can in any way be justified.

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Pinchas 5775-2015

“Learning by Example”

Role models can serve as sources of inspiration, for both good and evil. The zealous actions of Pinchas can be traced back to the heroic actions of his grandfather Aaron.

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Pinchas 5773-2013

“The Lesson of the Broken Vav

A most unusual scriptural anomaly is found in the verse in which G-d confers upon the zealous Pinchas the blessing of a “Covenant of Peace.” The letter “vav” in the Hebrew word “Shalom,” peace, is broken. What is the reason for this broken letter?

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Balak 5771-2011

"Taking the Law Into One’s Own Hand"

In response to a lewd sexual act performed publicly by Zimri and Cozbi, Pinchas the son of Elazar responds zealously, spearing the perpetrators and killing them. How does tradition look upon Pinchas’ decision to take the law into his own hands?

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Pinchas 5770-2010

"The Colorful Biography of Pinchas"

Although Pinchas, the son of Elazar the priest, is widely known for his zealotry, he has an astonishing record of achievement that is not widely known. The Talmud and Midrash generously amplify on Pinchas' colorful resume.

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0 Comments10 Minutes

Pinchas 5764-2004

"The Conundrum of Pinchas: Do His Actions Set an Unacceptable Precedent?"

In parashat Pinchas, the Al-mighty praises Pinchas, the son of Elazar and grandson of Aaron the High Priest, for fatally stabbing Zimri and Cozbi, who had committed a public act of harlotry as a challenge to Moses and the elders at the entrance to the Tent of Assembly. Does the fact that Pinchas is rewarded by G-d with an eternal covenant of priesthood set an unacceptable precedent?

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Vayishlach 5761-2000

"The Proper and Improper Use of Zealotry"

We read of the very painful and distressing story of the rape of Dinah, by the ruler of Shechem. Employing subterfuge in order to avenge the attack on their sister, Dinah's brothers, Simeon and Levi, demand that the men of the city be circumcised if they want to marry any Jewish women. While recovering from their surgery, the men are attacked by the sons of Jacob and killed. Jacob condemns Simeon and Levi for their violence and never seems to forgive them until the day of his death. However, the tribe of Simeon seems to bear that condemnation forever, whereas the tribe of Levi becomes the spiritual leader of Israel. Why their different fates?

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Vayishlach 5760-1999

"The Massacre of Shechem: Can it be justified?"

The rabbis have a hard time with the rape of Dinah and the massacre of the men of Shechem. They try valiantly to explain why Dinah was fated to suffer so horribly. They also debate whether the actions of Simeon and Levi can in any way be justified.

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0 Comments11 Minutes