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    Why was God angry? – Pinchas

    The sidra says that Pinchas turned God’s anger away (Num. 26:11).

    Why was God angry? The obvious reason is that the people of Israel were caught up in a difficult situation and might succumb to moral temptation. By stepping into the fray Pinchas he showed his zeal for the Almighty.

    Rashi, however, offers an alternative point of view. He says that God was livid with the tribes of Israel who had spread rumours about Pinchas and criticised his genealogy, casting doubt on his lineage and saying that his grandfather had been an idol-worshipper.

    Why did Rashi get involved in genealogy and ascribe the criticisms to the tribes in general and not to the tribe of Shimon whose prince, Zimri, had been killed by Pinchas? Zimri certainly deserved to be punished for openly consorting with Kozbi, a Midianite woman, in the Israelite camp.

    The Lubavitcher Rebbe thinks the tribes were only trying to uphold the honour of Moses and Aaron and their attack on Pinchas was motivated by suspicion that there were inherited flaws in his character which led him to act rashly.

    God would have preferred Pinchas to remember that he was a kohen and should not need special Divine help.

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