Pinchas: Recipe and d'var Torah
For Parsha Pinchas, my friend Naomi offers this recipe-slash-d’var Torah:
Par-boil the asparagus spears (or javelins)
Cut the cukes lengthwise to form spears (or javelins)
Drop the tomotoes like blood drops on the salad bed
Drive the aspargus and cucumber spears into the salad bed
It is easy to blame Pinchas for zealousness and forget that he merely acted on behalf of others who felt as he did. It is possible that the crimes of individuals can still represent the collective guilt of all. Zimri sinned in all of their names – others were cavorting with idolatrouses, only he did it publicly and was punished for his own violations as well as those who were not seen. Pinchas slew Zimri and Cosbi in the names of all who sinned, might have sinned, or might ever have sinned. Eat this salad full of spears (with Italian dressing – to show how easy it is to mix cultures and assume similarities, attributing Mediterranean characteristics to everyone from the region, worthy or not). Assuming guilt is never easy. Proving innocence is even harder. When is the death sentence defensible? When there is no hope of rehabilitation? When there is no suitable or commensurate punishment? What does it ever really change? I don’t think we know. But those who have been harmed by one who is ultimately killed for his offenses, they know what the rest of us do not. And yet we can not deny them.
This portion makes me think sadly of the situation in Israel. My heart breaks for all who have lost family members in the pursuit of ultimate power. I am praying only for peace.