In last week’s Torah portion we found the Jewish hero Pinchas saving the day for the Jewish people by publicly executing the Jewish tribal head, Zimri, and his Midianite girlfriend, Kazbi. Those two had desecrated the Name of G-d and His Torah by having relations in plain view of Moses and the entire Jewish leadership. This week, Pinchas is rewarded for sanctifying the Name of G-d and is granted the blessing of peace and priesthood (Kehuna). Pinchas’ zealous response saves the Jewish people from a plague which had broken out in the camp. Five righteous daughters of Tzelofchad file a claim with Moses: In the absence of a brother, they request their deceased father’s share in the Land of
Israel. Moses asks G-d for a ruling. The Almighty responds that the claim of these five women who so dearly love the Land of Israel is, indeed, just. Moses is told that he will ascend a mountain to view the Land that the Jewish people will soon inherit, though he will not be allowed to enter. Moses asks G-d to appoint a successor. Do you know who is chosen? Joshua, Moses’ dedicated assistant and student. The Torah portion concludes with a lengthy description of the special offerings brought on various festivals. These sections are also read from the Torah throughout the year on the appropriate holidays.
The Three Weeks
The Three Weeks is an annual mourning period that falls out in the summer. We mourn the destruction of the Holy Temple and our launch into a still-ongoing exile. The period begins on the 17th of the Hebrew month of Tammuz, a fast day that marks the day when the walls of Jerusalem were breached by the Romans in 69 CE. The Fast of the 17th of Tammuz is observed this Thursday, July 9th.
The Three Weeks reaches its climax and concludes with the fast of the 9th of Av, the date when both Holy Temples were set aflame. This is the saddest day of the Jewish calendar, and it is also the date that many other tragedies befell our people.