Torah Portion Pinchas (B’Midbar) Numbers 25:10-30:1
Haftorah Reading: I Kings 18:46-19:21
Tonight we read a Torah portion that covers a wide range of topics. We read of a new group of leaders who will take the people to the Promised Land. Joshua is to take the position of Moshe when Moshe dies. Pinkas is granted an everlasting priesthood of peace that in some ways carries on the heritage of his grandfather Aaron. Finally we read of the five daughters of Zelophehad who came to Moshe with a request concerning their right to an inheritance after their father’s death. He died with no sons to inherit his land.
I would like to talk about two topics that I feel will have much to say to us. Let’s begin with the five women. We read their story in Numbers 27:1-11. In this passage we read of these women coming to Moshe with their request. They wanted to be counted in the parceling out of the Land once Israel crossed over the river Jordan when each tribe would be given their inheritance. At this time in history this was a radical request, apparently not covered in the Torah. When a man died his property went to his sons. If he had none then the inheritance would go to the next closest male heir. So Moshe went to G-d and inquired about how to answer these women. G-d agreed with the daughters and they were allowed to inherit whatever land their father would have received if he had lived until the crossing over to the Land.
Apparently one thing their father had achieved was to pass on to his daughters a love for the Land of Israel. This is an important point of this story. We inherit what we truly love. These women were concerned they would not share in the Land. It reminded me of how important it is to pass on to our children and even our friends what we truly love. Our faith must be part of that inheritance. It should be something that defines us in our life. How we act, how we live and the importance of who we are. If not, the foundation of our faith may die with us. These women were able to stand against the rules of society of their time. Their desire to be counted worthy to inherit part of the Land out weighed the seemingly lack of a way to realize that dream. They stood for what they thought was right.
Society so often dictates to us what to think, what is important and we go along with that without filtering it through what our faith calls upon us to do. We, our children, and other people who look up to us, will be taught that these transient things of the world are what is important. A result of this is they might lose their way and end up with no inheritance of value. These women went to the wall for what they believed to be right. G-d agreed and the whole of Israel was changed. New commandments were entered into the Torah basically because of their faith.
Next I want us to look at the HafTorah for this Torah reading and talk about Elijah for another lesson on how important it is to stand for G-d but in the process to rightly understand what G-d is saying to us.
The verses we will be looking at are I Kings 18:46-19:21. If you remember Elijah had been on Mt. Carmel and stood against 400 prophets of Ba’al. Ba’al was the chief god of Jezebel, queen of northern Israel. Elijah defeated and killed these 400 priests of Ba’al. However, the next day the queen threatened Elijah’s life because of what he had done. He became so afraid he ran from Mt. Carmel to Mt. Sinai to escape her wrath. He was waiting there for death. G-d came to him. First he experienced a strong wind, then a powerful earthquake, then a fire. G-d was in none of these. But he came to Elijah in a still small voice. What does G-d say? In verse 13 G-d says, “What are you doing here?” This is the same question G-d asked him in verse 9. In both of these cases Elijah’s answer was the same. He said he was the only one left, only he was zealous for the L-rd. In verse 19 G-d corrected Elijah and told him there were another 7,000 who had not bent their knees to Ba’al. G-d told him to go and pass his mantle on to Elisha. One of the issues being, Elijah had judged the people of Israel in mass. No one was left but him. G-d corrected that assumption.
Our job as G-d’s people is to stand for what we believe, it is not to judge others who may not hold exactly the same beliefs. Our job is not to cut people off if they are not like us. We are to hold fast to what G-d has shown us but to let Him do the judging. We are to love people. Elijah had lost his effectiveness. Elisha was chosen to take his place. Elijah had started to see all of Israel as lost when in fact G-d corrected that view and told him that actually there were 7.000 more who still believed.
We cannot allow ourselves to hate people who we think are not worthy of our time and effort. Elijah lost his ability to be a person who could touch all of Israel and Elisha became his replacement. Like the daughters we spoke of earlier, we stand for what we think is right but we leave the outcome to the Father.
It is important to also notice that even in Elijah’s undone state G-d still loved him and provided nourishment and rest for him. When we miss the mark G-d does not throw us away. Like Elijah He still loves us and wants us to realize His best in our life.