Bad Words and Watered-down Witchcraft
The Torah portion Pinchas is full of related ideas. No, not at first glance. At first glance, the topics meander from taking vengeance on the Midianites, the daughters' tribal inheritance rights, a reminder that Moses did not sanctify Him as holy at Meribah, the ordination of Joshua, and a recap of the offerings and feasts.
What ties all these themes together? Desire. Passion. Focusing on the objective and settling for nothing short of reaching the goal. This Torah portion reminded me that it's time to take a bad word out of my vocabulary: wish. I've said it all my life:
"I wish I had that."
"I wish I'd thought of that."
"I wish I could go do that."
Okay, maybe I did want that, want to think of that, or want to go do that, but "wish" is a nasty, horrible, no-good word. For English-speakers, "wish" means we don't really expect to obtain the objective. We learned through Disney movies to "wish upon a star." Yes, we were taught a watered-down witchcraft. Instead of teaching a song that encouraged young children to pray to their Creator about their hopes, dreams, needs, and desires, Mr. Disney taught us to wish upon a lucky star.
How's that working out?
Well, for one thing, more children are visiting Disneyland on family vacations than they are Israel. It's not that Disneyland is bad; it's that for many disciples of Yeshua, there's not even a PLAN to take or send kids to Israel for a tour, to study, or to volunteer. Kids PLAN to go to soccer practice, basketball games, Myrtle Beach, or Six Flags, but they only WISH to go to Israel. They have car washes and sell cookies to raise money for other good causes, but how many of them have fundraisers for a bar or bat mitzvah trip of a lifetime?
Torah teaches us to aim our desire, not make a wish. If I WISH to do something, then the subtext is that I don't truly BELIEVE it is obtainable; it is no more obtainable than wishing upon that star, which cannot move my feet toward the objective. Saying "I wish" often means, "Well, in theory, that's a good idea, but it's just not worth my time, discomfort, or energy to seriously pursue it." Wishes are things upon which we don't waste our resources, nor would we re-prioritize our lives to obtain them. We don't truly believe the object of desire is realistic.
Fact is, those who have just as little in the way of resources to obtain the desired object will attain it while we stand and wish, with or without a star.
The true stars of the universe are the sons and daughters of Abraham who have the faith of Abraham. They aren't wishing upon stars, they are BEING stars. Abraham and Sarah believed in a promise, and they uprooted everything familiar and safe in their lives to run toward it. They didn't obtain it...but they put their feet down in the Land because they BELIEVED and owned their part.
The verb RATZAH is Strong's 7521. The definition is:
to be pleased with: (be) accept(-able), accomplish, set affection, approve, consent with, delight (self), enjoy, (be, have a) favour(-able), like, observe, please(-ure), reconcile self.
Another word with the same two-letter root,
, is RUTZ (Strong's 7323):
to run (for whatever reason, especially to rush):-break down, divide speedily, footman, guard, bring hastily, (make) run (away, through).
When we say we WANT (
rotzah) something in Hebrew, we mean we have set our affection on the object because it is pleasing, delightful, and we will take steps to accomplish it. It implies we will point our feet in that direction and move toward it with tangible acts.
What did the people of our Torah portion WANT?
- Pinchas wanted holiness in the Camp, especially in the place of his watch, the Camp of the Levites
- Balaam and Balak wanted to possess Israel the Land and destroy Israel the People, therefore destroying Israel the Covenant
- Adonai wanted to know how many males had been born in the wilderness who would inherit the Land
- The daughters of Tzelofechad wanted an inheritance in their tribe with the males
- Moses wanted an answer for the daughters
- Moses wanted a shepherd to succeed him who would lead the Israelites out and bring them in safely; he wanted a man who would continue teaching them the Song of Moses
- Adonai wanted the Israelites to continue keeping the feasts, including the daily moed of the olah offering, a type of the resurrection, the annual feasts, and the weekly Shabbat
Each of these, even the wicked ones, did something to obtain the object of their desire, or at least to try to obtain it. They moved their feet toward it. They didn't wish anything, but they ran toward the objective by doing tangible acts.
A beautiful thread concerning the daughters emerges in the text. Asher's daughter Serach is remembered for good in the tribal census. She was one of those who went down from Israel to Egypt, then came back up, survived the wilderness, and entered the Land. Scripture mentions her in the male genealogies three times in Scripture! This noblewoman was one of those counted as the 70 of Jacob according to whom the families of the earth were apportioned. Serach didn't say "I wish I could go to Israel." Serach aimed her feet toward Israel and didn't stop until she entered in.*
The daughters of Tzelofechad wanted an inheritance in Israel among their tribe so that their father's memory could live through them. They aimed their feet toward Moses and Eleazer, and they didn't stop until they entered in. In fact, Scripture says the sons were assigned "an inheritance," but of the women it said, "You shall cause the inheritance of their father to 'pass over' to them...," (27:7) making them Hebrews indeed, for to be a Hebrew means to "pass over."
Moses is told by the Holy One that the daughters "speak properly." No wishing upon a star for the daughters, but a stating of the desire for a delightful inheritance, the Land of Israel. Moses is commanded "You shall surely give..." The power of this commandment is lost in English, for in Hebrew it is
naton titen, literally, "give, you shall give!" It is a double portion of their father in Israel!
The Father in Heaven cares about the daughters, even the daughters of the wicked who have been taught to do evil. Here is a significant passage:
Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 'Be hostile to the Midianites and strike them; for they have been hostile to you with their tricks, with which they have deceived you in the affair of Peor and in the affair of Cozbi, t
he daughter of the leader of Midian, their sister who was slain on the day of the plague because of Peor.' (Nu 25:16-18)
A careful read determines the ultimate reason for revenge against the Midianites; it is not just their adultery/idolatry tricks. It is the affair of Cozbi,
the daughter of a leader and a sister. The Midianites were not naturally evil enough to seduce the Israelites. Balaam had to keep teaching them until they learned perversity.
But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who
kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality. (Re 2:14)
The Israelites were blessed with exemplary sisters: Miriam, Serach, the daughters of Tzelofechad.
The Creator made
all daughters and sisters, however. He cares about them all, even when they must suffer judgment for their sin. Those who taught them to be harlots and "cast loose" their daughters to sexual sin will be judged. Every daughter in Israel is a princess, a descendant of Sarah. Every daughter among the nations is also a potential princess if she believes with the faith of her mother Sarah, one who believed before she saw the Land of Israel.
Wicked fathers, leaders, and false prophets who keep on teaching the daughters of the earth harlotry and idolatry will suffer for their wickedness because their sisters are being slain from being taught perversity. Daughters have a special love for the Land of Israel. How dare the sisters be forfeited for the territorial, self-idolizing, commercial appetite of the beast and his false prophet.
It's time to replace "I wish" with "I want," "I desire," or "[B'azrat HaShem] I will." Wish is a BAD, BAD word. If you want to go to Israel, say, "I WANT to go to Israel." Do something tangible. Start putting change in a Mason jar. Get a passport. If you're Sarah, pack up and go even if it's only a temporary trip. If you're Serach, live long enough to do it. Don't give up. If you're the daughters of Tzelofechad, speak properly and make your case: cross over. These women didn't WISH anything. They did what they could when they could at the pace they could.
They wanted Israel. When you want it more than you wish it, the Holy One helps remove the obstacles
in His time.
There's a funny way of asking "What do you want?" in Hebrew. Caleb asked his daughter, "Mah lakh?" (Joshua 15:18) Literally, it's "What [ ] to you?" It's up to you, Daughter, Princess, and Star of Abraham and Sarah, to fill in the missing word.
The Creation Gospel's choice of Biblical Tamar as a base for our tours, which celebrate both Passover and Tabernacles, is not random. Tamar is the southernmost boundary of Israel that will be established when the tribes are restored to their inheritance in the Messianic Age. Ezekiel 47 gives a beautiful description of the Arava desert as does Isaiah 35.