Thursday, July 28, 2011

283 - Pinchas

In this week's parsha Bnei Yisroel are counted once again. "These are the ones counted by Moshe and Elazar Hakohein. . . And from these there was no man of those counted by Moshe and Aharon in the Sinai Desert" (Bamidbar 26, 64-65). Rashi comments that the Torah emphasizes, "there was no man", because the women were still alive at the time of the second counting. They were not included in the punishment incurred as a result of the spies' derogatory report and the nation's subsequent objection to entering the Land of Israel. In contrast to the men who expressed their grievances against Eretz Yisroel, the women cherished the Land. This was demonstrated by the daughters of Tzlafchad who came to Moshe requesting that they be allocated a portion of land in Eretz Yisroel.

It is interesting to note, says Rav Wolbe (Shiurei Chumash), that women were always at the forefront of the great events mentioned in the Torah. Chazal tell us that in the merit of the righteous women our forefathers were redeemed from the bondage in Mitzrayim. Additionally, when Bnei Yisroel stood ready to accept the Torah at Har Sinai, the women were placed first in Hashem's command to Moshe: "So shall you say to the daughters of Yaakov and relate to the sons of Yisroel" (Shemos 19, 3). Finally, it was the women who cherished and thereby merited entering Eretz Yisroel, while their male counterparts perished in the wilderness. In contrast to those who perceive women as maintaining an inferior spiritual status, the Torah clarifies for us their true level of greatness.

In a similar vein, Rashi (Bamidbar 27, 7) tells us that the eyes of the daughters of Tzlafchad "saw" what was not "seen" by the eyes of Moshe. Their request precipitated Hashem's commandment to Moshe as to regarding what should be done with the estate of a man who dies and leaves only daughters. It was in the merit of these wise women that Bnei Yisroel were taught the laws pertaining to inheritance. Once again we see the greatness the Torah ascribes to women.

Rav Wolbe points out that there is another lesson to be gleaned from the daughters of Tzlafchad. They are yet another example of the emphasis the Torah places on the importance of each individual. Their simple request, which demonstrated an intense spiritual desire, brought them honor in the eyes of their generation and all future generations since Hashem recorded their dialogue in the Torah. We all have the potential to leave our mark!

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