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		                                    Thinking Torah Blog		                                </span>

07/21/2022 05:00:00 PM


Rabbi Josh Whinston

Reading through some sections of the Torah are harder than others. At the moment, we find ourselves in the latter half of Numbers, and the zealotry and genocidal tendencies in the text are beginning to show themselves. Last week, Pinchas was given a covenant of peace from God after he impaled an Israelite and non-Israelite woman while they were being intimate with each other. This week, Moses gets upset with his army commanders after they failed to kill all of the Midianite women when they attacked those communities. Yes, the last few parshiyot of Numbers are not for the faint of heart. Historically speaking, they likely don’t reflect what actually happened but a hope from a weak kingdom that they would one day prevail over their enemies. That being said, as they present themselves as history, and undoubtedly many people, both Jew and gentile, read them that way, it is worth saying that we all must be wary of zealotry. We live in a time of great zealotry, but most of us likely only see the zealotry of the “other.” Shutting down anyone with a differing opinion is a kind of zealotry both the right and left have in common these days. While it is certainly not the same as the militaristic zealotry of these Torah portions, our inability to hear differing viewpoints is one of our time's great plagues. For sure, genocidal intentions are very much about shutting down different points of view. A position of defense is one thing, but when we allow ourselves to be triggered and shut down and disregard opinions because of that triggering, we all lose in the end.

Tue, December 6 2022 12 Kislev 5783