A walk on the beach was a hint of a better world to come


This article originally appeared on My Jewish Learning.

(JTA) — Last week’s Torah portion is named after one of the Torah’s more complicated figures. Pinchas is the grandson of Aaron, the first high priest, and son of Eleazar, the second, and his lineage seems to set the stage for one of the most horrific moments in the Torah: Pinchas personally took it upon himself to execute an Israelite man in the act of having sex with a Midianite woman.

The perceived immorality of Midianite practice apparently overwhelmed the biblical author’s passion for lawful resolution of conflict and proportional res...

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