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Friday, July 2, 2010

Parshat Pinchas (aka: the correct one for this week)


So I was looking at my calendar thinking that it was July 9th, even though the month just started yesterday!  So, of course, it's Matot-Masei.  If I had just remembered that last we ended the reading with the story of Pinchas I would have remembered that it's Pinchas this week.  Oh well, it's been a hectic week.

So here is a poem that I wrote a couple years ago for Pinchas.  I don't have time to edit it before Shabbat, but I hope you enjoy it.  And save Matot-Masei's commentary for next week, as I won't be able to post then.

Shabbat Shalom,
Steven

Pinchas

Numbers/Bemidbar 25:10 – 30:1 It begins by mentioning an incident that occurred at the end of last week’s parashah where Pinchas, son of Eleazar the priest and grandson of Aaron slays the Israelite man Zimri and the Midianite woman Cozbi after they enter a tent to have sexual relations. This takes place after the text tells us that the Midianites have led the Israelites into whoring, both in terms of women and also after other gods (especially the Midianite god Baal Peor). At the start of this week’s parashah we are told that upon killing Zimri and Cozbi the plague that was ravaging the camp ceased. Furthermore, God gives Pinchas a brit shalom/covenant of peace as a result of the slaying of Zimri and Cozbi.

Throughout the ages rabbis and scholars have both lauded and criticized Pinchas for being a zealot for his cause (the term used by the Torah). Some believe that he acted justly in the name of God. Others believe that he acted in an extreme manner. Certainly, the cessation of the plague and the giving of the brit shalom would imply God’s approval of Pinchas’ actions according to the author. But one has to wonder what other messages we might find in this idea of receiving a covenant of peace of using violence to stop idolatry and immoral behavior. There are many possibilities, but once again I wonder what we can learn if, as in our dreams, all of the characters in our communal narrative can be seen as part of us, what can we learn from this text about ourselves – whether it is we like it or not!



The Covenant of Peace
 
all is in us
     we are in everything
      everyone
        Moses     teacher
      Aaron  priest
  Pinchas  zealot
          Zimri Cozbi 
    idolaters blasphemers 
  lust filled human beings
all are in us
      we are in them
there is no distinctionn
no difference
All is one

we all
learn  teach  attemp holiness
 
we all
  Want
     Lust after
     Others
    Gods

We feel

    Jealousy
     Anger
        Pettiness
    Hatred
Desire

Ego
 Self
  More important than
   Trust
    Compassion
     Openness
       Love
        Acceptance
     Others
 The world

We bring
Plague destruction decimation desolation
Upon ourselves
Our souls
Those around us

Small minds
      Closed hearts
        Afflict us
    A plague
            Resistant to treatment
    Unable to accept the cure
Unable to let in the Light

Desire    Ego
  enclosed  nside us
    In a tent
      Lethal cocoon
        Filled with poison
       Impenetrable

Perhaps

It must can be pierced
    Allow in
     Light
       Love
         Openness
            Acceptance
   Peace Wholeness Shalom

We must
  Find strength
    Pierce the shell
     Run it though
       Save us

Such violence you say
        Necessary action I say
   Not violent
       Compassionate
  Allowing us to open up

We must use our strength
Divine Human
    To pierce the shell
     Let in the Light
       Release what has been held captive
the plague within us
   Eating away at us
      Keeping us from Life

Doing this
    We let in
      Shalom
         Peace
     Sh’leimut
       Wholeness
We open our hearts
               Minds
           Souls
     To God
    Others
    Self
   All
  the same
all is in us
we are in everything

Sometimes we must do
What appears to be most difficult
Destroy what is often most familiar
                      Most harmful
                Causing the most pain
       Often unnoticed

Then we find
Truth
       Peace
          Rainbow covenant
             Shining over us through us
                  within us
                Connecting us
             To the one
          The many
      One another
God

Once the plague is gone
We are open
we can rejoice
In our covenant with God
in Life

Shalom

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