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KMTT - the Torah Podcast

Jul 6, 2023

Pinchas | The Unusual and Reprehensible Worship of Baal Peor, by Rav Yitzchak Etshalom

The inspiring story of Bil'am's blessings is offset by the description of the sin of the people in their worship of Baal Peor. That act of widespread treachery is resolved by Pinchas, where he earns his priestly status. Yet the entire story is, upon close inspection, enigmatic and puzzling. What is the relationship between the sexual licentiousness of the Moabite women and the Baal Peor worship? If God's anger is kindled due to their consorting with foreign women, why is the focal point of His wrath directed at the Baal Peor-worshippers? But if the violation is that of idolatry, why is Pinchas's zealotry directed towards Zimri's consorting with Cozbi. We propose a surprising solution, starting with a resolution to the unusual verb "vayitzamed".

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