Seizing Destiny

Moshe Kempinski

At the end of last week’s Torah portion we hear of Hashem’s instructions after the failure of some of the Israelite with the Midianite women and we then hear of Moshe’s directions;

“The Lord said to Moses, “Take all the leaders of the people and hang them before the Lord, facing the sun, and then the flaring anger of the Lord will be removed from Israel. Moses said to the judges of Israel, “Each of you shall kill the men who became attached to Baal Peor.”

Yet when faced with the arrogant and public display of that sinning we see an Israelite people and their leadership stunned into sad silence.

Then an Israelite man came and brought the Midianite woman to his brethren, before the eyes of Moses and before the eyes of the entire congregation of the children of Israel, while they were weeping at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting.(ibid 8)

It is then that Pinchas acts on behalf of G-d and in compliance with His previous directive.

As a result Hashem grants him the blessing of peace and of the priesthood and describes his great zeal and actions. ;

Phinchas the son of Eleazar the son of Aaron the kohen has turned My anger away from the children of Israel by his zealously avenging Me among them, so that I did not destroy the children of Israel because of My zeal.

After this dramatic encounter is described we read of two other events in this week’s Torah Portion ( Pinchas) that were no less dramatic .

“The daughters of Zelaphchad the son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, of the families of Manasseh the son of Joseph, came forward. …( and declared ) Give unto us a possession among the brethren of our father.'” (Numbers 27:1-4)

The response comes back decidedly. Hashem tells Moshe the following;

” Zelophehad’s daughters speak justly. You shall certainly give them a portion of inheritance along with their father’s brothers, and you shall transfer their father’s inheritance to them. (Numbers 27:7)

New Torah is created out of their forthright request.

When Moshe is told again that he will not merit to enter into the land Moshe boldly makes a request;

Moses spoke to the Lord, saying: “Let the Lord, the God of spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation, who will go forth before them and come before them, who will lead them out and bring them in, so that the congregation of the Lord will not be like sheep without a shepherd.” numbers27:15-17)

Usually this expression ( Vayidaber..Leimor- Spoke..saying”) is relegated to G-d giving instructions to Moshe and His people, here we see Moshe speaking forth . Moshe’s standing forward is dramatic and strong.

The response come immediately;

The Lord said to Moses, “Take for yourself Joshua the son of Nun, a man of spirit, and you shall lay your hand upon him. 19And you shall present him before Eleazar the kohen and before the entire congregation, and you shall command him in their presence. 20You shall bestow some of your majesty upon him so that all the congregation of the children of Israel will take heed.( ibid 18-20)

It is clear that the words and commandments revealed in this week’s torah portion were also meant to reinforce a critical spiritual truth.

As opposed to “weeping at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting”,we must feel empowered to act.

Instead of waiting to “hear” from Hashem we must simply begin to actively listen. “The Lord saw that he had turned to see, and God called to him from within the thorn bush, and He said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am!””( Exodus 3:4)

Instead of sitting back and patiently waiting for G-d’s plan to move forward we need to stand up and move in to seize destiny and move with it forward.” The Lord said to Moses, Why do you cry out to Me? Speak to the children of Israel and let them move forward.”(Exodus 14”15)

Rabbi Tarfon is quoted in Pirkei avot;
“It is not up to you to complete the task, but neither are you free to desist from it.” (Pirkei Avot 2:21)

Human destiny is about yearning to do the task without being too concerned who will finish the job.


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