Archives for July 2012

Torah Reflections July 15 – 21, 2012

Mattot-Masei

Numbers 30:2 – 36:13

These Are The Journeys                                               

 

The second of this week’s double Torah portion, Masei–the last Torah portion of the Book of Numbers–acts as a prelude to the book of Deuteronomy which follows. It is a brief summary of the story of the Israelites since they left Egypt, which Deuteronomy takes up and vastly expands upon.

These are the journeys of the Children of Israel, who went forth from the Land of Egypt, according to their legions, through the hand of Moses and Aaron. Moses wrote their goings forth according to their journeys, by order of YHVH. And these were their journeys according to their goings forth: … [Num. 33:1-2]

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Torah Reflections July 8 – 14

Pinchas

Numbers 25:10 – 30:1

We Are All Zelophechad’s Children

One of the most powerful stories in Torah appears in the middle of this week’s portion: the story of Zelophechad’s daughters. It is powerful at many levels. First and foremost, the heroes are all women, which, knowing the patriarchal character of Torah is in and of itself remarkable. Second, these women stand on the principles of justice and civil rights to see the overturning by God Himself of a long-established set of laws. This is a radical shift. Up to this point the biblical mandate was that property is passed down from father to son. Zelophechad’s five daughters, at the time when Moses performed a census to apportion the Promised Land among the tribes, challenged this many generations-old law.

 

The daughters of Zelophechad… came forward… They stood before Moses, Eleazar the priest, the chieftains, and the whole assembly, at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, and they said, “Our father died in the wilderness… and he has left no sons. Let not our father’s name be lost to his clan just because he had no son! Give us a holding among our father’s kinsmen!” Moses brought their case before the Eternal. And the Eternal One said to Moses, “The plea of Zelophechad’s daughters is just: you should give them a hereditary holding among their father’s kinsmen; transfer their father’s share to them. Further, speak to the Israelites people as follows: ‘If a householder dies without leaving a son, you shall transfer his property to his daughter….'” [Num. 27:1-11]

 

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