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Parashat Pinchas - 5777

Dear friends,

Last week's Parasha ended with the story about Pinhas, Aaron's grandson, who took the law into his hands and stood up and killed Zimri, a leader of the tribe of Shimon, and the Midianite woman Kozbi, who were committing an immoral act before the people. His zealous act stopped the plague that had killed twenty-four thousand Israelites. This week's Parasha begins with G-d rewarding Pinhas' act by granting him the covenant of peace, in the form of the priesthood that will be for him and his descendants.

Other events take place in this parasha:

Credit is given to the daughters of Zelophehad who were the first females in the Torah to ask for equal rights. It took many centuries before those rights were extended to other areas, but we should always remember them as pioneers in the area of gender equality. That struggles continues today. The fight by the Women of the Wall is an excellent example of how far we are from reaching that goal of allowing for pluralism and equality.

When Moses asks G-d to appoint a new leader he addresses G-d as "the source of the breath of all flesh". Rashi and other commentaries point out that this description is important for a leader to understand. G-d, the creator of all flesh, made their outer appearance different, and so is their 'ruah', their individual breath, spirit. A leader must always remember that people have different thoughts and opinions. As a leader, he must be a leader for all his community and allow for various ideas and approaches. The leader's most important task is to be a unifying force in bringing all these 'Ruhot', spirits, together for the well being of the community,

These two important Torah messages could be of great help to our society today. Equality for all in all areas of life, and leaders who strive to unite the entire community, and consider the various needs of all the people.

Shabbat Shalom,