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by Daneal Weiner
Welcome. 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.
But before that, somewhere I have gone before, correcting my mistakes. Hashem keeps me humble. Last week I wrote Balak offered 48 Korbanos when it was 42 and I quoted Psalm 109 which was really 29. (I translated my chaf as a kaf.). And now, onward and upward!
In this week's
the land of Israel is dividing up amongst Bnei Yisrael. The subject immediately prior to the dividing is the recording of a new census of Bnei Yisrael. Many reason are given for the count. We'll take the Ibn Ezra's, that since the land is about to be divided, it is needed to know how many people there are to divide it amongst. This count, also being of those fit for army service, did not include the womenfolk. Ergo, the land is not to be divided based on the number of women in the family. The five daughters of Tselafchad approach Moshe and claim that their father died in the desert of his own sin and he died without sons, so they have nothing coming to them. They reason that they deserve a share of Israel. Moshe did not know what to answer them and brought their case to Hashem. No doubt we've just witnessed the worlds first band of right wing feminists! Question, though, if their father died, he died. What's the difference what sin or whose sin he died from anyway?
Till this point, the division of the land was going to based on the number of men in the family. Not only wasn't it dependent on the women in the family, it wasn't dependent on servants either. Righteous gentiles were also excluded from inheriting a share in the land. ArtScroll quotes the Midrash who records the daughters of Tselafchad's plea, "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. You've said what's on your mind though, "male and female". Well, ever since leaving Egypt and especially after having conquered a couple nations there are loads of servants and righteous gentiles who've committed to the 7 Noahide laws now living amongst the tribes of Israel. I don't see you carrying a banner for them? Are servantfolk beneath you to include them in your flag waving?
The answer for you women and the gentiles and the servants is "Tough nuggies!" Hashem designed it, Hashem decreed it and Hashem determined it to be a division of land dependent on the number of males. From where do you daughters come off even 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 saying (27:4), "Why should the name of our father be omitted from among his family because he has no son?" Rashi says their words mean, "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 are 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? Oh, not the ones where it will cost you. But if you stand to inherit, "Chauvinism! Sexism!" We get it.
Actually, we don't get it at all. Because if the daughters' motivation was twisted truth and selfishness, Hashem would have never agreed to them. In fact, not only does Hashem agree with the daughters and gives them a share of Israel but He also credits them as earning the nation 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 lottery. 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? That 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. Hashem chose to give the Torah 50 days after the Omer Offering was brought. The 50th year is the Yovel- Jubilee year when Jewish slaves are sent home and land returns to it's ancestral owners. There are 50 Gates of Wisdom paralleling 50 Gates of Impurity. A lot of 50's in a lot of serious places.
One more very serious place. Our Sages say that when the Jews were in Egypt we sank to the 49th level of spiritual impurity. Moshe, his soul rooted in the 49th Gate of Wisdom, was the counter-force which brought Israel out. Had Israel sunk to the 50th level we would not have gotten out! 3300+ years later we HAVE sunk to the 50th level of spiritual impurity! Oy! But, unlike our ancestors, we have the Torah. Ddue only to it we will be able to come out of this level. The next leader Hashem sends to take us out of this exile, the Mashiach, will be rooted in the 50th Gate of Wisdom. Them will be the Jubilee of Jubilees, so to speak. All Jews will be freed. We'll all return home. The land of Israel will return to us. May it be speedily in our day!
The Rabbeinu Bechayah says that by the Torah attaching an oversized nun (50) to the claim of the daughters indicates that it's root is the 50th Gate of Wisdom. As just said, it was a level beyond the wisdom of Moshe. From some where known only to Hashem. And as the verse says, "Moshe brought their claim (big nun)- before Hashem!"
And speaking of a wisdom only known before Hashem, this is what a 'lot' (as in lottery) is all about. On Purim is explained that the reason for Haman's using lots to determine when Bnei Yisrael was to be destroyed was a his declaration of how the world was. Since he had the power to destroy the Jewish people, ch'v'sh, it didn't matter whether he did it that day or a year from the day. What would stop him? Whenever it falls, it falls. The lot represents 'no rhyme or reason'- to Haman, that is. Measure for measure, even though the Jews deserved destruction, Hashem saved the Jewish people for no rhyme or reason. He felt like it. A 'no rhyme or reason' reason. And that's as far as we're concerned! From Hashem's perspective, everything is according to plan. Lots aren't 'no reason' rather 'only Hashem's reason'. The purpose of the lots verifying the apportioning of Israel even after the prophecy of the High Priest was to show the nation that the real root of the division was from a place that was beyond human grasp. Prophecy is from above but the prophet gets it. And he passes it on to the people. The lots add in '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." At Mt. Sinai Bnei Yisraelreached a level of spirituality comparable to Adam and Chava pre-sin! Sinless! There is a place in heaven where all the souls of Israel are still that one nation with one heart. And it is a place where the taint of sin can not reach. It is the pure spark of holiness in every Jewish soul from which every soul will eventually return to Hashem. If I understand correctly, a bone marrow transplant is when a healthy cell is used to rejuvenate an entirely contaminated body, lo aleinu. Physically, the source of healing may have to come from without. Spiritually, the pure cell resides within. Like the Jubille, when all returns home, the nun, the 50, the 50th level, it also represents that pure, untainted spirit from whjich all souls will return home.
When Hashem told Avraham during 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. So that couldn't be the question. 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 Hashem would give Bnei Yisrael the land, but them holding on to it was what concerned him. How would his descendants not be vomited out, as the Torah says? Hashem's response to Avraham was to bring those sacrifices which the Covenant of the Parts became named after. What did this tell Avraham?
Hashem's response toi Avraham to bring sacrafices said that a sacrifice atones! What is an atonement? When a soul is 'dirtied' from sin the offering 'cleanses' it. Is the soul ever blemished? In other words, how intrinsically affected is the soul because of sin? According to the framework of Torah there can indeed be a point where a soul is so dirtied that can no longer be cleaned. Like a tattoo. Permanent. Regarding such souls our Sages say repentance is kept from them and such a soul has no share in the world to come. Hashem told Avraham not to 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, maybe a little laser surgeory and an extra rinse cycle. In the end, all will come out clean and eternally inherit the land.
No if your in tune, you'll be asking, "Wait a second. What are we talking about here? First it's souls so full of sin there is no recompense and then the paragraph ends with eternally inheriting the land. Are we talking about Olam Habah or Israel? The world to come or this world?" Exactly!!!
Every soul has 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 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, from the Torah's perspective, some will be left out, but from Hashem's perspective everyone has a place in each. This explains the claim of the daughters of Tselafchad, "Why should the name of our FATHER be omitted from among his family...he died of HIS sin." It wasn't the selfish feminist "US! WE! ME!" They were concerned about their father's name! About their father's soul! About their father's share in Israel/the world to come! Like I said, they were the world's first male chauvinists!
The begginning of the parsha was Pinchas killing Zimri and Cosbi. A true act of zealousy is comparable to an act of the courts and a Jewish court doesn't punish, it atones. It is said that the man who went out to collect sticks on Shabbos and was killed for it was Tselafchad! If their father was killed by the court for his sin then it can't be he doesn't get a portion of Israel because that would mean he has no share in Olam Habah!?
Let's have a more complete look at the Rashi on the claim of the daughters'."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 will continue the name of the father. On it's simplest level, the child inherits the deceased's property and will continue in his name, so to speak. Kabalistic writings, however, teach that from that union comes a reincarnation of the deceased's soul. For whatever reason's he was cut off from the world, Hashem allows His laws of forbidden familial relationships to be broken to give that soul a second chance.
With Rashi, 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. 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 seems he has 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.
If I understand Rav Wolfson correctly, I'll attempt 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."
Our 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 So-And-So." So it is no problem that the women aren't 'given' an inheritance. Two halves of one soul does not need a second portion and both have their place in the world to come.
I hope the daughters and all you forgive me for the negative light I put them in in our search for the truth. If you want to increase your share in the World to Come, all you have to do is have a 49th level Shabbot Shalom.