The parashah for this week is not without its challenges and problems. At the end of last week’s reading, we saw Pinchas, the grandson of Aaron, murder with a bayonet-like weapon an Israelite and a Midianite woman in flagrante. The first verses of this week’s reading appear to provide divine sanction for a zealous, violent, religious fanaticism, which becomes the justification for a perpetual covenant of priesthood with Pinchas and his descendants (Num. 25: 6–13).
The views expressed in this D’var Torah do not necessarily reflect the position of Leo Baeck College.