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Friday, July 10

The Weekly Shtikle - Pinechas

This week's parsha recounts the famous episode of the daughters of Tzelafchad who approached Moshe claiming the unfairness of the laws of inheritance. They maintained that since they had no brothers, their father's inheritance should go to them rather than to other relatives. HaShem asserts the validity of their claim by instructing Moshe (27:7), "kein b'nos Tzelafchad dov'ros," the daughters of Tzelafchad speak correctly. Rashi writes here that we are taught that they saw what even Moshe Rabbeinu had not seen (for he was not aware of the halachah.) The following Rashi continues with the praises of the daughters of Tzelafchad, "praiseworthy is he/she whom HaShem concurs with their words." R' Moshe Shternbuch, in Ta'am Vada'as brings up an interesting point. The daughters of Tzelafchad came to Moshe with a complaint, apparently out of a desire to maintain their father's right to property. They did not know any more than he did. They had their own motives in mind. What is it about their behaviour that merited such extensive praise by Chazal?

He answers that the daughters are not being praised because of their knowledge of halachah. Rather, the reason for praise was that, although having been taught some of the procedures dealing with the division of the land, B'nei Yisrael still saw Eretz Yisrael as a distant venture. They were still wandering the desert. They focused themselves on the current situation and did not concern themselves with the details of the forthcoming inheritance of the land. The daughters of Tzelafchad, on the other hand, were more infused with belief and trust in HaShem's word, to the point that, to them, the inheritance was a current and present issue. Their haste in coming before Moshe showed an exceptional level of faith which deemed them worthy of praise.

Although the daughters of Tzelafchad showed exemplary faith and love of Eretz Yisrael, their meritorious deeds were not completely unique – at least not amongst the women. Following the census that appears at the beginning of the parsha, we are told (26:63) that of these individuals counted in the current census there was not one man who was part of the previous census because they had all died in the desert. Rashi infers from the superfluous mention of the word ish that the decree applied only to men. Women were exempt because they showed a greater love for Eretz Yisrael.

We have begun the period of mourning the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash and the galus that has ensued. But we, like B'nos Tzelafchad and the other women of the Dor HaMidbar, must not lose sight of the promise of the ultimate end to that galus, the redemption and the arrival of Mashiach, may he come speedily in our day.

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

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