Accepting the Consequences
Parashat Pinchas

Dena Weiss

Pinhas is a complex character. On the one hand, he is a hero. It is he and only he who is willing to take matters into his own hands to defend God’s honor. His violent heroics soothe God’s jealousy and save many lives in the process. However, the Rabbinic tradition is equivocal on how to read Pinhas and his legacy. We could try to decide which reading is correct and declare Pinhas as either righteous or problematic, or choose to draw an entirely flattering or entirely condemnatory image of who he is. However, we can also use these differing readings together and understand that Pinhas is both. Reading Pinhas in all his complexity will enable us to construct a more nuanced picture of what it means to read the same act as both positive and negative, and often how complicated it can be for anyone to do “the right thing.”

Accepting the Consequences
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