On Zealotry and the Pursuit of Peace

Headshot of Rabbi Adam Greenwald
by Rabbi Adam Greenwald
posted on July 25, 2019
Torah Reading
Haftarah Reading
Our Torah portion this week recalls a man named Pinchas, the great-nephew of Moses, who engages in an act of vigilante violence. The Israelites are in the midst of a plague, brought down by God as penance for rampant acts of sexual immorality. Pinchas responds by capturing a couple in flagrante delicto, and executing them-- stabbing the pair of them through with his spear. Read more...

Rabbi Zushya on Moshe's Transgression

Photograph of Tamar Marvin
by Tamar Marvin, PhD
posted on July 10, 2019
Torah Reading
Haftarah Reading
To Rabbi Zushya, an early Hasidic master who left behind no writings but many stories, belong two of the most darkly encouraging statements about human purpose: to him is attributed the saying, “Each person should have a coat with two pockets—one pocket with a note on which it’s written, ‘I am but dust and ashes,’ and the other pocket with a note on which it’s written, ‘For my sake the world was created.’” Rabbi Zushya is also credited with exclaiming, tearfully, “When I am judged for the World-to-Come, I won’t be asked why I wasn’t more like Moshe, but why I w Read more...

What Did Korah Do Wrong?

Headshot of Elliot Dorff
by Rabbi Elliot Dorff, PhD
posted on July 3, 2019
I have often felt that Korah was punished unfairly.  In fact, the story of Korah reminds me of the cowboy stories I saw on television when I was growing up in the 1950s (you do not have to do the math: I am 76!).  The good guys all had white hats, and the bad guys all had black hats.  There were no grays: people were either good or bad, and you did not even have to guess who was which.  That made for a very clear picture, along with the security of knowing who was right and who was wrong.  Moreover, the good guys always won in the end, so justice always prevailed.   Read more...