| Published: July 03, 2023
Phinehas (Pinchas) is rewarded for his bravery. A census of the Israelites is taken. The daughters of Zelophehad successfully argue for a portion in the land of Israel. Joshua is ordained Moses‘ successor. G‑d relays to Moses the details of all the holiday sacrifices.
First Aliyah: Last week’s reading concluded with Moabite and Midianite women seducing Jewish men and enticing them to idol worship. At that point, Phinehas unilaterally executed a Jewish leader along with the Midianite princess with whom he was cohabiting. This week’s reading opens with G‑d praising Phinehas, and rewarding his bravery by granting priesthood to him and his descendants. G‑d then commands the Jews to punish the Midianites by hounding and smiting them. The fulfillment of this command is described in next week’s reading. G‑d commands Moses and Elazar the High Priest to conduct a census of all males over the age of twenty.
Second Aliyah: The Israelites are counted, and the totals are given for each of the twelve tribes. The grand total of all the tribes combined is 601,730. The tribe of Levi is not included in this census.
Third Aliyah: As per G‑d’s command, the land of Israel was to be divided amongst all those who were counted in this census. The location of each tribe’s portion would be determined by lottery. The tribe of Levi is now counted. There were 23,000 Levite males above the age of one month. The daughters of Zelophehad approached Moses and stated that their father had died leaving behind only daughters. They requested to receive their father’s portion in the land of Israel. Moses relayed their request to G‑d.
Fourth Aliyah: G‑d agreed to Zelophehad’s daughters’ request. Moses is then instructed the laws of inheritance. Included in these laws is a daughter’s right to her father’s estate if he does not leave any sons. G‑d tells Moses to climb to the top of Mount Abarim from where he would see the Promised Land before he died. Moses asks G‑d to appoint a worthy individual to succeed him. G‑d instructs Moses to endow Joshua with some of his spiritual powers and publicly name him as his successor.
Fifth Aliyah: From this point until the end of this week’s reading, the Torah details the various communal sacrifices which were offered in the Tabernacle and Temple at designated times. This section discusses the twice-daily “Tamid” sacrifice, as well as the additional sacrifices offered on Shabbat and Rosh Chodesh (the first day of the Jewish month).
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