Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

Pinchas

"The daughters of Zelophehad came forward... and stood before Moses" Numbers 27:1-2

    We read in this week's parashah that Zelophehad died leaving no sons. His five daughters approached Moses to ask if they could inherit the land of their father rather than it pass from their immediate family to a different clan. Moses enquired of God and was given the law for all time: if there are no male heirs, the women should inherit the land.

    It is the method of the challenge that I find fascinating. The women had a legitimate request and wanted a ruling from Moses; they believed in the process.

    According to the Midrash, the sisters had a deep belief in the justice of God and said to each other: God's mercy is not like the compassion of mankind. Mankind favours men over women. God is not that way, His compassion is on men and women alike (Yalkut Shimoni, Pinchas 27 Sifri 27.1).

    These women were striving for truth and a higher good. They had a practical query that needed an answer and took it to Moses for a response.

    The daughters of Zelophehad were wise women, according to the Talmud (Baba Batra 119b) as not only did they seek counsel of Moses, they also considered the most appropriate time to present the petition to him.

    So what do we learn from these women? That we must strive for truth and justice, and that we should do so at the right time and in an appropriate manner. This is an essential principle for social action: find the issue of inequality or injustice and look for the right response to the issue. Their behaviour is an enduring model for all time: take the issue to the decision-makers and push for legitimate change.

    As Blu Greenberg once said, where there is a rabbinic will, there is an halachic way; it is a matter of choosing your battles and when and how to fight them.

    RELATED STORIES

  • Sidrah

    Toldot

    Rabbi Joseph Dweck

    Thursday, December 1, 2016

    Toldot
  • Sidrah

    Chayei Sarah

    Rabbi Debbie Young Somers

    Thursday, November 24, 2016

    Chayei Sarah
  • Sidrah

    Vayera

    Rabbi Joseph Wolfson

    Thursday, November 17, 2016

    Vayera
Sidrah

Lech Lecha

Rabbi Daniella Kolodny

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Lech Lecha
Sidrah

Chol Hamo'ed

Rabbi Mark Solomon

Friday, October 21, 2016

Chol Hamo'ed
Sidrah

Nitzavim

Rabbi Larry Tabick

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Nitzavim
Sidrah

Noach

Rabbi Dr Benjamin Elton

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Noach
Sidrah

Ha'azinu

Rabbi Daniel Roselaar

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Ha'azinu
Sidrah

Ki Tavo

Maureen Kendler

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Ki Tavo
Sidrah

Bereshit

Rabbi Joseph Dweck

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Bereshit
Sidrah

Vayelech

Dr Lynndy Levin

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Vayelech
Sidrah

Ki Tetzei

Rabbi Mark Solomon

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Ki Tetzei