Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Pinchas – Numbers 25:10-30:1
As the father of a girl, I pray my daughter will live in a community that respects her and affords her ample opportunity to live a good and fulfilling life. My wife and I have found such a place in the tenets of traditional Judaism. Others look at our life as stifling and chauvinistic. Parshas Pinchas dispels such notions:
Give us a portion along with our father’s brothers. (Numbers/Bamidbar 27:4)
This Sabbath’s parsha discusses Pinchas’s reward for his zealousness, the censuses taken prior to the Israelites entering the Land, the petition of Zelophehad’s daughters, the laws of inheritance, the appointment of Joshua as Moses’s successor, and the offerings that were brought daily, on the Sabbath, and on holidays.
In this parsha G-d has the perfect opportunity to show conclusively that men are superior to women. Parshas Bereishis says women are to be dominated by men, despite Eve being taken from Adam’s side making her his equal. The Torah spends more time examining the lives of the Patriarchs than the Matriarchs. And the leader of the Israelites, Moses, is a man.
Forget that Moses would never have survived were it not for Pharoah’s daughter and his sister Miriam, that the Children of Israel drank water in the wilderness due to Miriam’s merit, and that the women did not participate in the incident of the Golden Calf or the rebellion of Korach, nor did they believe the slander of the Land by the spies.
Contemporary society condemns traditional religion for being chauvinistic so it must be true. Or is it?
The daughters of Zelophehad, whose father had died 40 years earlier, were disturbed that their family might not inherit a portion of the Land along with the rest of the Israelites. Their response demonstrates their faith that G-d loves and respects women as much as men.
Waiting for the propitious time, when Moses was teaching about Levirate Marriage, they raised this issue with him. Levirate Marriage entitles a woman to marry her deceased husband’s brother so the child from that union will be attributed to her deceased husband. The daughters of Zelophehad reasoned that if only sons were to inherit a portion of the Land, then their mother was entitled to Levirate Marriage since they evidently did not count as children of their father.
Moses heard the justice of their plea and presented it to G-d who confirmed the women were correct. They got their portion of the Land. If the Almighty meant for women to be second-class citizens He would not have given them the status of inheritors.
You have role in the world. It may be to lead most of the time or perhaps to follow. But you should never think because of your gender or any other aspect of yourself that the Creator does not love you or thinks less of you than others.
No matter how small you think your contribution, never forget the injunction of Mishnah Sanhendrin, 4-5, “and if one saves the life of a single person, Scripture imputes it as if one had saved the whole world.” How many times have you positively impacted the physical, mental, or spiritual life of another? How many times have you saved the world?
What contribution to the world did you make today? Please comment below.
Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. It is named after the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.
What verse in the Old Testament would you like to know more about? Ask a question and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!