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Friday, July 09, 2004

Torah Reading PINCHAS, Numbers 25:10-30:1.
Haftara: Jeremiah 1:1-23.

In Torah law, land is considered the best and surest property -- movables (let alone paper wealth) cannot compare. While the sale and purchase of land takes up a sizeable part of Torah law, the sages counseled not to part with land whenever possible, and certainly not ancestral land. Land should be held and transferred from generation to generation.

Our parshah introduces the Torah law of inheritance (see also Deuteronomy 21:16ff). The law was given by G-d to Moses in response to a question raised before him concerning inheritance by daughters. The question was raised by the daughters of Tzelaphchad, who had died of his own sin in the wilderness leaving no sons. They asked for their father's share of the land to be given to them so that his family name should not be diminished among his brothers.

The daughters of Tzelaphchad longed and yearned for the Land of Israel. They could not bear the thought that their family would not have a part and a share in the land.

In the words of the Midrash: "When the daughters of Tzelaphchad heard that the Land was to be divided among the males but not the females, they all gathered together to take counsel. They said, 'Not like the love of flesh and blood is the love of G-d. A person of flesh and blood has more love for the males than the females, but He who spoke and the world came into being is not that way. Males... females... His love is for all! As it is written: 'His love is over ALL His works' (Psalm 146).

The Midrash continues: "...Rabbi Nathan said: The power of women is more beautiful than the power of men. The men said, 'Let us appoint a head and return to Egypt' (Numbers 14), but the women said, 'Give us a share of the land' (Numbers 27:4)."

--Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum