Saturday, 29 June 2013

Pinchas- bringing about change

Parashat Pinchas covers a variety of information. Last year our project focused on the end of the parasha, the Mussaf offerings. This time we compared three events in the parasha; Pinchas killing Zimri and Kozbi, Bnot Tzlofchad, and Moshe requesting new leadership.
It was challenging to tell the girls how Hashem rewarded Pinchas for his brutal behavior (especially after Chukat when we discussed in depth not using our hands to bring about results).
Cohava said, "Boys fight with their hands and hurt people. But girls don't, so we are ok." I thought about pointing out the tussling that transpires between her and her sisters, but before I had the chance she continued. "That is why we have all girls in our family- except Abba. And we need an Abba, because he does the hoovering." Yes, that is why we allow my husband to be part of the family, because he does the vacuum cleaning.
"Yes, we have mostly girls in our family," I agreed. "Shall I tell you about another family with lots of girls in the parasha?"
"I remember. There were sisters who wanted land in eretz Yisrael but it was only for boys," Gabi piped up. How Gabi can remember the parasha from year to year, but not to use a fork boggles my mind. I began to tell the story of the five sisters and their plea for their father's land, as he left no male heir.
"What would you do if it were you?" I asked.
"Cry," Gabi replied honestly.
"Yell,"Cohava added with equal candidness.
Then we discussed the bravery and maturity the bnot Tzlofchad exhibited when they spoke before Moshe and Elazar.
"Now, we have seen how when we want something to change we can either hurt people or ask the people in charge nicely. Can you think of any other ways to get what you want?" I asked.
"You can wait and it will get better by itself," Gabi suggested. She is not a social activist in the making.
"That won't help! You have to make people do it!" Cohava argued.
"Or you can ask Hashem for help."
"Oh yeah!" replied the girls.
I then told them how Moshe asks Hashem for new leadership to take over after his upcoming death, to lead the Jewish people into Israel.

I am always awed by the relevance of the text of the Torah to today. Logic would dictate that the Torah would become obsolete and irrelevant. Of course Hashem overrules logic.
This week's newspapers showed me how the text of parashat Pinchas is as relevant today, around the world, as it was more than 3000 years ago.

Early in the week, the New York Times ran an article about how primogeniture is still the law for the aristocracy in the United Kingdom.  The battle begun by Bnot Tzlofchad has not ended in the UK, in spite of seeming equal rights among genders.

The method employed by the daughter's of Tzlofchad, petitioning and lobbying the major decision making bodies, is certainly being used today. This week's US Supreme Court ruling which voted DOMA unconstitutional, was the result of years of extensive lobbying. 

Passing the mantle of leadership occurred this week, as the position of Prime Minister moved from Julia Gillard to Kevin Rudd, although I doubt she requested God's help in being overthrown.

In South Africa, Nelson Mandela, the greatest leader their country has known, is looking at the end of his life, much like Moshe in this parasha. 

All major English speaking countries have headlines this week which echo the messages of Parashat Pinchas, and how change is brought about. If I read other languages, I am sure I would have found an honor killing, similar to Pinchas' actions. The Torah could not be more alive and relevant today.

To highlight the means which we should most use to render change, requesting from the leadership and engaging with the Divine, the girls made paper dolls.  First they made the five female lobbyist. They they made Moshe.

With pre-cut paper chains, markers, glue, and scrap fabric, they got to work. 

The five sisters

And Moshe.

 Instead of Challah this week, I got bagels to pay homage to Pinchas' actions. 
 And Ruti had her own idea of what constitutes five sisters and was working to create a collection of ' five babies'.

Tova was not impressed.

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