The Bible uses a model for solving serious conflicts, which is completely at odds with what many people are used to. In the ‘world’ people sometimes want to say what needs to be said. But in religious circles the religious harmony model is often used: have your cake and eat it. In addition, the real victim is promoted to perpetrator more than once, because she or he does not want to cooperate in creating this, in itself false, harmony – something that I, as a violinist, are particularly sensitive to!
Dealing with the truth
In this way, serious conflicts often degenerate into new conflicts about tolerance and forgiveness, while the original subject is pushed under the carpet. Two causes can be identified for this: 1. not being able and able to deal with the truth, which can be painful, and 2. the imposition of the will by someone who is unjust in his or her treatment of victims and perpetrators.
Pinchas (Pinechas) is promoted to kohen, priest, in an everlasting priesthood (kehuna) in Pinchas. And what did Pinchas have to do for that? He murdered two people, excommunicated: a Jew who entered into a love affair with an attractive woman who worshiped idols and the woman as well. No ‘nice conversation’, no spiritual help, not a painful attempt to convert her to the G-d of Israel.
No summary execution in the Netherlands
It is a technique that we can not and do not want to apply in our congregation, just because of our very respected laws of our country. But it makes us think how radically the Bible wants us to be in our thinking and decision making. The Midianites had tempted Israel into acts that led to a plague in which twenty-four thousand Jewish victims fell. Your own fault, someone will say. But in this parasah we read in Numbers 25:17 that the Eternal gives Israel the command to hunt down the Midianites and kill them because of their temptations.
Vigorous performance of daughters who chose the good
The text mentions the decisive action of the daughters of Tslofchad (Selofchad), see Numbers 27. They take the courage to approach their leader, as women in that male society. Their father had died in the desert and now they did not have a male representative to inherit a piece of land. Because Tselofchad had no sons.
They approach Moses and explain their situation to him, “Our father died in the wilderness, though he did not belong to the band that conspired against the Eternal, to the gang of Korah, but it was because of his own sin that he died. But he had no sons. Why shall the name of our father disappear from among the generations, having no son? Give us possession among the brethren of our father”(Numbers 27:3-4).
They let Moses know that their father did not belong to the Korah gang, who was uniquely removed from the community of Israel. But they did say that he died because of his own serious mistakes. But the man has daughters who stand up for their sake and for that of Israel. And Moses adds a new law article to what already exists in Torah, to respect and answer their wise desire.
Choosing for the good, for fair and for vulnerable
King Josiah is another example of understanding the art of choosing well. He grows up in a Mafia family. Both his father, King Amon, and his grandfather, King Menashe, were kings in the line of David. They were murderers and corrupt to the bone. And like the sons of Haman (Book Ester), Josiah could have followed them in their footsteps. But he chose for the good, to be fair and vulnerable, as did the sons of Korah.
How to choose
It also happens nowadays that someone can come to a congregation and that she or he causes harm and later on suddenly disappears. The stragglers often suspect that their leadership is behind the disappearance. But as with Korah, it is often the Eternal who removes people. The question then is: what should family members and/or friends do who stay behind in order not to participate in the rebellion and sins of the fathers?
Someone who grows up in a family whose parents are believers who show misbehavior towards their children. These children can do two things: go along with the misconduct that then applied as a model. Or choose to do it really differently. And so did these daughters in the Book of Numbers: they did not hesitate to see their father as the cause of a threatening problem in their lives. And that gives them recovery and victory. Two kingdoms invite us to become citizens within their borders. Our spirit is willing, but our flesh is weak.
Learn to listen to G-d’s voice
What do we choose! In our lives it is about learning to hear our conscience, which makes the voice of the Eternal understandable. Learning to hear that voice means: wanting to learn to listen to that voice. While at a certain point in your life you have to make a choice and go left or right, it is important to sharpen your spiritual ears, to hear G-d’s voice, your conscience. Then “your ears will hear a word behind you: This is the way, walk on it” (Isaiah 30:21).