Condolences to Moish Ross and family on the passing of his father Nigel.

Times: Shabbat starts on Friday at 4:59pm and ends on Saturday night at 6:00pm. The weekly Torah portion is Pinchas.

Mincha in the CBD: Mincha is still virtual as we await people returning to work in the city. That means we all daven at an agreed time, which is 1.00pm. Details at the WhatsApp group.

Study: Weekly Shiur continues on Wednesday at 1:10pm via zoom, following mincha at 1.00pm. BYO lunch. Details here.

Thought of the Week with thanks to Annette Charak. At the end of last week’s Torah reading, the Jewish men had been seduced into sexual impropriety and idolatry by the Midianite women. One Israelite man acted with blatant provocation, publicly coupling with a Midianite princess. Seeing this, Pinchas took a spear and slayed the couple, stopping the plague that God had brought. In this week’s Torah reading, God praises Pinchas for his zealotry for God’s sake. On first reading, Pinchas is surely a hero.

Yet, Pinchas is viewed with ambivalence by the sages and even, perhaps, in the text itself. Indeed, after praising Pinchas, God grants him “my covenant of peace”: Pinchas should never again need to act the zealot. In Jacob Milgrom’s view, Pinchas is not intended to serve as a model for anyone else. His vigilante killing of Zimri and Cozbi reveals a man whose motivation may be worthy of praise but whose conduct, less so.

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