In this parsha we learn the laws of annuling vows. After the war on Midyan we learn how the spoils of war is distributed between the people.
The tribes of Reuven, Gad and half of Menashe are granted their request to receive the pasturelands east of the Jordan River as their part of Israel.
The details of the path of Israel through the desert is listed. The boundaries of Israel are detailed. The ‘cities of refuge’ (for accidental murderers) are listed.
This week we will link to the article on chabad.org for this post…
The Parshah in a Nutshell
Aaron’s grandson, Pinchas, is rewarded for his act of zealotry in killing the Shimonite prince Zimri and the Midianite princess: G-d grants him a covenant of peace and the priesthood.
A census of the people counts 601,730 men between the ages of 20 and 60. Moses is instructed on how the Land is to be divided by lottery among the tribes and families of Israel. The five daughters of Zelophehad petition Moses that they be granted the portion of the land belonging to their father, who died without sons; G-d accepts their claim and incorporates it into the Torah’s laws of inheritance.
Moses empowers Joshua to succeed him and lead the people into the Land of Israel. The Parshah concludes with a detailed list of the daily offerings, and the additional offerings brought on Shabbat, Rosh Chodesh (first of the month), and the festivals of Passover, Shavuot, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret.
The King of Moab [Balak] orders Balaam to curse the people of Israel. On the way, his donkey sees an angel that G-d had sent to block his way and argues with Balaam. Balaam attempts to curse the people of Israel but blesses them instead three times.
A plague is afflicting the people of Israel due to their worship of idols of Moab and taking their women as wives. Pinchas kills an Israelite and a Midianite princess that he had taken into his tent, stopping the plague.
Korach and 250 followers oppose the appointment of Aaron as kohen. The mutineers offer an unlawful ketoret (incense). G-d punishes them by opening up the earth and swallows them.
Aaron offers a ketoret to stop a plague and his staff blossoms and grows almonds to show that hashem supports his appointment as high priest.
The parsha concludes with the description of the terumah and other gifts to to the kohanim.
Aaron lights the Menorah in the sanctuary. The Levites begin their work in the sanctuary. ‘Pesach Sheni’ (second passover) is set in place for those who were unale to bring the sacrifice due to impurity.
Hashem details the process for the journey and encampments through the desert and then the children of Israel leave Mount Sinai. The children of Israel demand for meat – Manna was no longer enough for them. Moses asks for 70 elders to help him govern. Miriam is punished with leprosy for speaking negatively to Moses and wait seven days for her recovery.
The parsha begins with the census of the children of israel. We learn that the Levites are to serve in the sanctuary. The dismantling, erection and transportation of the sanctuary is divided between the Levite clans. The encampment and traveling formation of the tribes is listed with their numbers from the census, describing each tribe’s leader and flag.
This week we learn the laws of Shmita – the sabbatical year. No work is to be done to the land [in Israel] and all produce is to be free for all. We also learn the laws of the Yovel – jubilee year. Servents are to be set free and all land reverts back to the original owners. G-d tells us of the good that comes when the torah is followed and the evils, such as exile and persecution, that will befall the children of Israel if they do not follow the torah.
The parsha continues to discuss the laws pertaining to Kohanim. We learn that priests are not to become ritually impure – that is where we learn that they are not to go to cemeteries unless it is for a close relative…
We get a list of specific holy days: Shabbat, Passover, Shavuot, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot.
We learn about lighting the menorah in the Temple. Lechem Hapanim, and then conclude with the penalties for blasphemy, murder and damage to property.