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Parshat pinchas

Parashat Pinchas Numbers 25:10-30:1

Aarons grandson, Pinchas, is rewarded for his act of zealotry in killing the Simeonite prince Zimri and the Midianite princess who was his paramour: G‑d grants him a covenant of peace and the priesthood.
A census of the people counts 601,730 men between the ages of twenty and sixty. Moses is instructed on how the Land is to be divided by lottery among the tribes and families of Israel. The five daughters of Zelophehad petition Moses that they be granted the portion of the land belonging to their father, who died without sons; G‑d accepts their claim and incorporates it into the Torahs laws of inheritance.
Moses empowers Joshua to succeed him and lead the people into the Land of Israel.
The Parshah concludes with a detailed list of the daily offerings, and the additional offerings brought on Shabbat, Rosh Chodesh (first of the month), and the festivals of Passover, Shavuot, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret 

Pinchas is one of the few Parshas named after an individual Jew. To appreciate the significance of this, not there is no parsha named Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Leah, Joseph, Moses, Aaron or David. The Parsha makes a point to mention Pinchass lineage, tracing it back to Aaron, of whom it is said, "Be of the disciples of Aaron, loving peace and pursuing peace, loving people, and bringing them closer to the Torah" (Pirkei Avot 1:12).

Although Pinchas was the grandson of Aaron, he was not a Priest. This is due to the fact that Pinchas was born before the Priestly assignment took effect. As he was not "born to a Priest," he could not be considered one. However, God gave Pinchas the "covenant of peace" and brought him and his descendents into the priesthood forever. Pinchas eventually became the high priest. How does Gods action in this case relate to the written Torah? Pinchas was zealous in his actions. His intentions were only "for the honor of Heaven" as God says it was "My vengeance." Pinchas did not fear doing this in the public view. It would appear he "judged" the situation correctly, and placed his own spiritual and material welfare to the side in order to carry out Gods will -- His Torah.

In Hebrew, the word for peace, (shalom), is derived from the root "shalem," meaning "whole" or "complete." To have "wholeness" (i.e., true shalom) that which divides must be removed. Thus peace is an active state and not passive. Sometimes it requires an act of violence to achieve this. In this Parsha, God sends a plague which claims the lives of 24,000 of His people who were sinning. After this, a final census is taken, and those remaining enter the land. Compare this entire historical scenario to the judgments found in the book of Revelation, which at the end bring Gods great and final shalom.

Consider this concept:
In this Parsha we read that there were three criteria concerning inheritance of the Land: To the more numerous [tribe] you shall increase their inheritance, and to the fewer you shall lessen their inheritance... Nevertheless the land shall be divided by lot ... (Numbers 26:54-55)

To summarize, the Torah shows three aspects to the people's relationship with the land:
1) Rational: population size and vocation determining the "portion"
2) Seemingly arbitrary: "casting of lots"
3) Intrinsic: pre-existence of a connection between the heir and the heritage

These same three aspects may be found in our own lives. Things in life happen:
1. Due to our rational abilities, choices and actions
2. In a seemingly random and arbitrary manner
3. At times that show us the sum and substance of who and what we are in God's plan

Through a proper balance of; Torah study, prayer and performing of the commandments, we can thus learn that to live means:
1. To develop and make use of the talents and abilities God gave us
2. To recognize and rightly respond to the "mysterious" opportunities that come our way
3. To seek the truth of God regarding His plan for us in this lifetime

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