Sign In Forgot Password
  • 		                                		                                <span class="slider_title">
		                                    Thinking Torah Blog		                                </span>

07/06/2023 05:04:43 PM


Cantor Regina Lambert-Hayut

I am sitting in front of the news, completely stunned that there were more than 20 mass shootings that were reported over the July 4th weekend alone. That brings the total to date to nearly the number of days in the whole year, and we are only half-way through it. We the people should know that this is absolutely not normal! There is nothing sensible or reasonable about the amount of carnage that ensues from the plethora of these random acts of violence by people who had easy access to assault weapons and other firearms. It begs the question - whose rights are more valued? Why does it seem to be okay in our society that the few can intimidate and cause damage to so many, stripping away our unalienable rights?

This week’s Torah portion, Pinchas, begins with a deeply troubling message from God. Last week’s portion concludes with Pinchas, a priest and son of Aaron the High Priest, spearing (yes spearing) two people who were acting in a sexually immoral way. God lauds Pinchas and not only ends a plague against the Israelites but promises a covenant of peace to Pinchas for his act of zealous loyalty. 

Our commentators really struggle with this too. As they engaged in the process of interpretation, they worked hard to contextualize, minimize and discourage such rogue action and violence. They simply cannot justify why God was supportive of what Pinchas did and didn't want to see others following that example. 

We stand at similar precipice as we see our country move in the opposite direction when it comes to the interpretation of the 2nd Amendment. While our founders’ intentions may seem vague in modern times, it is hard to imagine that they anticipated the right to bear arms to be expanded to the point of causing the levels of civilian violence that we are experiencing.

Usually I take the easy way out in discussing this portion by focusing on an easier section. But we need not shy away from this difficult part of our history. We need to come to terms with this just as guns are a difficult part of our current society. I do not feel obliged to accept the message embedded in the opening of Pinchas nor am I willing to shrug my shoulders and accept things as they are with regard to gun violence. 

May God offer us a covenant of peace, not for zealousness but for relief from it, on this coming Shabbat and may we learn how to stand up for righteousness and goodness. Let us push back on the laws that threaten rather than preserve life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Tue, December 5 2023 22 Kislev 5784