Pinehas – Perasha Synopsis

Last week’s Perasha concluded with The Israelites settling in Shittim and the Jewsih people began to sin with the daughters of Moab and Midian, who seduce many of the Israelite men to worship the Moabite Baal Peor deity. G‑d. Pinehas, Aharon’s grandson, unilaterally executed a prince from the Tribe of Simeon, Zimri, who publicly displayed the Midianite princess with whom he was consorting.

This week’s Perashat Pinehas, opens with G‑d praising Pinehas, and rewarding him for his act of bravery by granting him and his descendants the Covenant of Kohen and the Covenant of Peace. Although Pinehas was the grandson to Aharon, he was not included in the original selection of Kohanim because he was born to Elazar before Elazar was anointed as a Kohen; it, therefore, did not pass to Pinehas until now G-d conferred that to him.

G‑d then commands Moshe and the Jews to do battle against the Midianites in retaliation for their seduction of Israel and the incident at Baal Peor.

G‑d commands Moshe and Elazar, the High Priest, to conduct a census of all males over the age of twenty, in preparation for conscripting an army to fight Midian, and for entering the Land of Israel. The total number of men. not including the Tribe of Levi, was 601,730. The Torah lists each of the tribes, their family sub-units, and the number of males of military age. No one in this national census was in the previous census except for Kaleb, the Head of the Tribe of Judah and Yehoshua, the Head of the Tribe of Ephraim and Moshe’s successor.

The land of Israel was to be divided between all those who were counted in this census, by tribe and head of family. The location of each tribe’s portion would be determined by lottery. The tribe of Levi is now counted. There were 23,000 Levite males above the age of one month. As the land was being apportioned by male head of household, the daughters of Zelophehad approached Moshe and Elazar and petitioned them for a portion in the Land of Israel as their father had died leaving behind only daughters and no sons. They requested to receive their father’s portion in the land of Israel. Moshe relayed their request to G‑d. G‑d agreed to Zelophehad’s daughters’ request; they will inherit both their father’s share and part of their grandfather’s share.

Moshe is then instructed the laws of inheritance. Included in these laws is a daughter’s right to her father’s inheritance if he does not leave any sons. A man’s sons inherit from him. If he has no sons, his daughters will inherit. A man without children is inherited by his brothers, and if there are no brothers, by the closest relatives along paternal lines on the family tree.

Following that episode, G‑d tells Moshe to ascend to the top of Mount Abarim from where he would see the Promised Land before he died, as he will not enter the Land. Moshe asks G‑d to appoint a suitable and worthy individual to be the leader and succeed him. G‑d instructs Moshe to bequeath Yehoshua, his trusted assistant, with some of his spiritual powers and publicly name him as his successor.

From this theme until the end of the Perasha, the Torah details the various communal offerings which were brought in the Tabernacle and later at the Great Temple in Jerusalem at designated times and in each Holiday season. Fire offerings, Homage offerings, Ascent offerings, whether of animal, flour, incense, or libations.

The Perasha concludes describing the twice-daily “Tamid” offering, as well as the additional Musaf offerings offered on Rosh Hodesh – New Month, Shabbat Passover, Shabuot, Sukkot, Shemini Asseret, Rosh HaShanah, and Yom Kippur. The Torah also discusses some of the laws related to these holidays.

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