Ariel Ben Avraham
Ariel Ben Avraham

Parshat Pinchas: God’s “bread” and “fire”

“Command the children of Israel and say to them, ‘My offering for My bread, for My fire, My pleasant fragrance [lit. spirit], you take heed to bring near to Me in its appointed season’.” (Numbers 28:2)

The last part of this Torah portion focuses on the offerings the children of Israel are commanded to elevate to the Creator in the assigned occasions. The literal translation from the text indicates that all God commands us to offer Him belongs to Him, hence He doesn’t “need” them. We see that His “bread” and His “fire” are presented here as one He calls His “pleasant spirit”. The bread as God’s “food” is the fire of love also as the fragrance that makes us rejoice in the life He gives us.

Again the Creator reminds us with His commandments that in and with His love we become aware of what gives us life and sustains life. Thus we realize that all the offerings we bring in order to be close to Him and bond with Him represent the love He wants us to give back to Him. We do this by living in the grace of goodness as the reason and purpose to be in the material world. This message is emphasized in the next verse.

“And you shall say to them, ‘This is the fire which that you shall bring to the Lord (…)’” (28:3)

We have referred often to fire as the catalyst that transform one state of matter into another, and love works in the same fashion. We understand it when this love motivates us to engage in good actions for the sake of goodness, hence we also realize it as our bond with God.

We find these verses and the rest of them in this portion after the deplorable episode that caused the death of thousands of Israelites after falling into another kind of idol worship represented by Peor. The fire offerings are mentioned again in order to make us aware that our transgressions due to ego’s fantasies and illusions can be transmuted and erased by returning to live in love’s ways and attributes as the catalyst to bond permanently with God’s love. The Psalmist also reminds us of this.

“What gain is in my death [lit. blood]? In my going down to corruption? Does dust thank You? Does it declare Your truth?” (Psalms 30:9)

As long as we live in the vanity and futility of ego’s fantasies and illusions we don’t gain anything meaningful as the goodness derived from love. In our decay we can’t praise or thank goodness, or even proclaim its redemption, for we are not truly alive amid negative traits and trends in consciousness.

Once we recognize the goodness of love’s ways and attributes as our essence and true identity, we realize that it is also our redemption from the maladies that separate us from God.

“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing, You have put off my sackcloth and girded me with gladness. So that honor may praise You and not be silent, O Lord my God, to thank You forever!” (30:11-12)

About the Author
Ariel Ben Avraham was born in Colombia (1958) from a family with Sephardic ancestry. He studied Cultural Anthropology in Bogota, and lived twenty years in Chicago working as a radio and television producer and writer. He emigrated to Israel in 2004, and for the last fourteen years has been studying the Chassidic mystic tradition, about which he writes and teaches. Based on his studies, he wrote his first book "God's Love" in 2009. He currently lives in Kochav Yaakov.
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