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by Daneal Weiner
Welcome one and all. This week I thought to look into something 'new'. Of
course it's as old as the Torah itself, written two thousand years before
creation, as our Sages put it. But from my 4 cubits of space and time, I
will boldly go where I have not gone before|
deals with the dividing up of the land of Israel amongst Bnei Yisrael. Immediately prior the Torah finishes recording a new census of Bnei Yisrael. Many reason are given for the count. The Ibn Ezra explains that since the land is about to be divided, it is needed to know how many people there are to divide it up amongst. This count, also being of those fit to serve in the army, did not include the women. The five daughters of Tselafchad approach Moshe and claimed that their father died in the desert of his own sin and he died without sons. They feel they deserve a share of Israel. No doubt the worlds first band of right wing feminists! By the way, if he the father died, he died. What's the difference what sin or whose sin anyway?
Till this point, the division of the land was going to based on the number of men in the family. It wasn't dependent on the women in the family. Nor was it to be dependent on any servants. Strangers were also excluded from inheriting a share in the land. ArtScroll quotes the Midrash who records the daughters as having said, "The compassion of Hashem is not comparable to the compassion of human beings. A human being might have more compassion for males, but He Whose word brought the world into being is different. His compassion is for both male and female- His compassion is for all."
Nice speech, girls. The 'compassion for all' part really brought a lump to my throat. Ever since leaving Egypt and especially after having conquered a couple nations there are loads of servants and strangers amongst the tribes of Israel. I don't see you carrying a banner for the strangers? Are servants are too far beneath you to include them in Hashem's all encompassing 'compassion for all'? The answer for you women and the strangers and the servants is "Tough nuggies!" Hashem designed it, Hashem decreed it and Hashem determined it to be dependent on the males. From where do these daughters come off beginning to make such a claim against Hashem and His Divine plan??? [Am I making friends here or what!?]
The Torah records the daughters coming before Moshe and saying (27:4), "Why should the name of our father be omitted from among his family because he has no son?" Rashi says they are saying, "If we stand in the place of a son, give us our inheritance..." Again we have to ask, if they want to be men, there's a couple hundred other mitzvah's that the women are not obligated in, only the men. We don't hear them asking to be included in any of those mitzvahs?
In the end Hashem actually does agree with the daughters and gives them a share of Israel and defines the laws of inheritance. How did these five women manage to out-think Moshe when it came to Jewish law??
Lastly, back in verses 26:53-56 Hashem explains to Moshe that the dividing up of the land is going to be according to the name of the father's house and according to the lot. The commentaries explain that the division was according to prophecy given to the High Priest AND then a lot was drawn which verified what the High Priest said. What was the need for both methods?
All these questions are what Rav Wolfson asks on this unusual episode. [Of course, if he saw how I asked them he'd have me strung up!] Rav Wolfson answers beginning with verse 27:5, "Moshe brought their claim before Hashem." In the Hebrew, the word for 'their claim'- 'mishpatan' is written with an oversized nun. No, not by an oversized nun. With an oversized letter 'nun'. Where did we last see an oversized nun? It was a trick question. Where did we last see two upside down, inverted AND oversized nuns? They were earlier in Bamidbar, in parshas B'haloscha. We explained there that the numeric value of the letter nun is 50 which is a tremendously deep number in Judaism. The holiday Shavuos is 50 days after the Omer Offering was brought. The 50th year is the Yovel- Jubilee year when the Jewish slaves are sent home and property returns to it's ancestral owners. There are 50 Gates of Wisdom paralleling 50 Gates of Impurity. The Sages say that when the Jews were in Egypt they sank to the 49th level of spiritual impurity. Moshe's, his soul rooted in the 49th Gate of Wisdom, was the counter-force which brought them out. 3300+ years later we've sunk to the 50th level of spiritual impurity! Oy! The next leader Hashem sends to take us out of exile, the Mashiach, will come from that 50th Gate of Wisdom. It will be the Jubilee of Jubilees, so to speak. All the Jews will return home. The land of Israel will return to us. May it be speedily in our day!
The Rabbeinu Bechayah says fact that the Torah attaches an oversized nun to the claim of the daughters indicates that the source of it is from the 50th Gate of Wisdom, a level hidden even from Moshe and known only to Hashem. And as the verse again says, "Moshe brought their claim (big nun)- BEFORE HASHEM!"
And on the topic of a wisdom only known before Hashem, this is what the 'lot' is all about. Last Purim it was explained that the reason for Haman's using lots to determine when Bnei Yisrael was to be destroyed was a declaration for how happenstance the world was. Since he had the power to destroy the Jewish people, r'l, it didn't matter whether he did it today or a year from today. Nothing could stop him. The lot represents 'no rhyme or reason'. Whenever it falls, it falls. Measure for measure, even though the Jews had sinned and deserved the destruction, Hashem saved the Jewish people with no rhyme or reason. He felt like it. But that's a 'no rhyme or reason' reason as far as we're concerned. From Hashem's perspective everything is according to Divine plan. The purpose of the lots verifying the inheritance of portions of Israel was to show the nation that the source of the division was from a place that was beyond human grasp. Beyond any human understanding. Purely according to Divine Plan.
There is another message simultaneously transmitted. Another message accompanying the oversized nun and the 50 it represents. The Torah was given 50 days after leaving Egypt. B'nei Yisrael reached Mt. Sinai and camped there and the verb for 'camped' used in the Torah is singular. Rashi explains we were "One nation with one heart." There Bnei Yisrael reached a level of spirituality like Adam and Chava pre-sin! Sinless! There is a place in heaven where all the souls of Israel are still one. And it is a place where sin can not reach. It can not be tainted in any way. It is the pure spark of holiness that every soul has some connection to from which every soul will eventually return to Hashem. Like a bone marrow transplant by which one healthy cell can rejuvenate an entirely contaminated body, lo aleinu, so too does every soul have already associated with it this untainted 'soul-marrow' from which the whole soul will be cleansed.
When Hashem told Avraham, back at the Bris ben Habisarim- the Covenant of the Parts that his descendants will eternally inherit the land of Israel, Avraham asked how he will know. As much as the question seems to doubt what Hashem has told him, just verses earlier the Torah testified to the degree of faith that Avraham had in Hashem. Every morning in prayers we say, "You are Hashem Who chose Avram and took him out of Ur Casdim and changed his name to Avraham and found his heart to be faithful before You." So Avraham's question must have meant something else. The Maharal explains that Avraham knew the land of Israel had a low tolerance level for sin, Avraham had no doubt that Bnei Yisrael would get to the land but holding on to it was what concerned him. How would his descendants not be vomited out? Hashem's response to Avraham was to bring the sacrifices by which the Covenant of the Parts was named after. What did this tell Avraham?
A sacrifice atones! What is an atonement? When a soul is 'dirtied' from sin the offering 'cleanses' it. So is the soul really blemished? In other words, how intrinsically affected is the soul from sin? According to the framework of Torah there can indeed be a point where a soul is so soiled that the Torah no longer allows for it to be cleansed. Like a body becoming tanned as apposed to being dirtied. Regarding such souls our Sages say repentance is kept from them. Also they've said such a soul has no share in the world to come. But the message that Hashem gave Avraham is don't worry. >From Hashem's perspective, having made that ever so high place in heaven where all Bnei Yisrael are one and untainted, even the pigmentally challanged souls will just require a stronger detergent and an extra rinse cycle and will come out clean.
You thought Madison Avenue is farthest from Hashem? It is in fact a place determined to live "in the image of Hashem." Forever will they seek to advertise a washing detergent which gets out every stain. Lehavdil eleph alphei havdalos.
This means that every soul absolutely does have a share in the world to come. And all that goes on in the spiritual world is manifest in this physical world. Just as every Jew has a share in the world to come, so too does every Jew have a share in the land of Israel. Israel in this world parallels the World to Come. Israel vomiting out the sinner is the World to Come not having a place for the sinner! But as Hashem assured Avraham, everyone has a place in each. And this explains the claim of the daughters, "Why should the name of our FATHER be omitted from among his family...he died of his sin" It wasn't the feminist cry "US! WE! ME!" They were concerned about their father's name! About their father's soul! About their father's share in the world to come! (Like I said, they were the world's first male chauvinists!)
Let's have a more complete look at the Rashi on the verse."If we stand in the place of a son, give us our inheritance. And if the females are not considered as offspring , let our mother undergo Yibum with the brother-in-law." There is a law that if a father dies childless, his brother can marry the widow and the child brought into the world. The holy writings teach that from this union comes a reincarnation of the father's soul. For whatever reason's he was cut off from the world, Hashem allows His laws of forbidden familial relationships to be broken, so to speak, to give the deceased's soul a second chance. (Tamar married two sons of Yehudah. Both died childless. From her union with Yehudah she had twins!) What the daughters of Tselafchad said to Moshe was regarding the laws of Yibum. If a father dies with a daughter, the mother does not do Yibum with the brother-in-law. This means the daughter is an extension of the father. This being the case, give us his portion in Israel and we will know that he has his share in the world to come. If not, then let our mother do Yibum. Let his soul come back into the world and be given a chance for reparation. Otherwise, it will indicate their father has no share in Israel, meaning no share in the world to come and THAT CAN'T BE! The inheritance is by the lot! And the lot tell us that every soul has a share in Israel and a share in the World to Come.
The Sages also teach that every soul is split in half, that one half is given the male form and one is given the female form, that a voice goes out from on High and declares "So-And-So is the soul mate of (will be married to) So-And-So" where and when the two halves are reunited. So it is no problem at all that the women aren't 'given' an inheritance. Two halves of one soul does not need a second portion!
If I understand Rav Wolfson correctly, attempting to translate his words literally, "Their [the daughter's] words are as if their souls are rooted in that place of the souls of Israel where sin can not reach which is higher than where Moshe's was from. For they are from the 50th Gate and regarding Moshe it says (Psalms 8:6, based on a Gemorah in Rosh Hashanah), "And you made him slightly less than the angels" meaning he did not grasp the 50th Gate. And these words were felt in the heart but not understood in the head. So Moshe brought their claim (big nun) before Hashem.
This also answers all the other questions. Why the daughters sensed something was wrong and not Moshe. Why they made the claim. Why they came forward about this mitzvah and not about any others. Why they claimed for 'themselves' and not for the stranger or the slave.
I hope the daughters forgive me for the dramatic, negative light I put them in in the search for the truth.
If you want in a your share of the world to come, all you have to do is have a Shabbot Shalom.