[JOI Word of Torah] Big Tent Judaism: Pinchas
Kerry M. Olitzky
KOlitzky at joi.org
Mon Jul 14 17:36:27 GMT 2008
"Big Tent Judaism" Word of Torah
July 19, 2008 / 16 Tamuz, 5768
This week's portion is a well-known text claimed by feminists as an example
of how the Torah can correct its often anti-feminist posture. In it, the
daughters of Zelophehad-who died without any sons-claim the rights to
inherit their father's land. It is this text-when compared to the story of
the spies of some weeks ago-that some commentators use to suggest that women
are far more loyal to the land of Israel than were men. Thus, they should
have been the ones sent out as advance scouts to determine its potential.
Eventually, Moses-with God's support-allows Zelophehad's daughters to take
their rightful possession of their father's holdings. Here is how the Torah
"The daughters of Zelophehad, of Manassite family-son of Hepher son of
Gilead son of Machir son of Manasseh son of Joseph-came forward. The names
of the daughters were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. They stood
before Moses, Eleazar the priest, the chieftains, and the whole assembly, at
the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, and they said, "Our father died in the
wilderness. He was not one of the faction, Korah's faction, which banded
together against the Lord, but died for his own sin; and he has left no
sons. Let not our father's name be lost to his clan just because he had no
son! Give us a holding among our father's kinsmen!"
Moses brought their case before God.
So God said to Moses, "The plea of Zelophehad's daughters is just: you
should give them a hereditary holding among their father's kinfolk; transfer
their father's share to them." (Numbers 27:1-7).
The daughters of Zelophehad gained their place in Jewish history because
they demanded their rights. This episode shows that no one group has
hegemony over others, and certainly not over the entire community. We all
have rights. That is what makes the community a big tent. And this is why we
should fight for the rights of others-particularly those on the periphery of
the Jewish community-to join it.
Rabbi Kerry Olitzky is the author of many inspiring books that bring the
Jewish wisdom tradition into everyday life, and is, among other books, the
author of Introducing My Faith and My Community: The Jewish Outreach
Institute Guide for the Christian in a Jewish Interfaith Relationship
To subscribe to the free weekly JOI Big Tent Judaism Word of Torah mailing
list, please send an email to PGolin at JOI.org.
For more information visit: https://joi.org/mailman/listinfo/wordoftorah
You are welcome to use these ideas in your own work and writings as long as
you would be so kind as to credit Rabbi Kerry Olitzky and the Jewish
Outreach Institute, thank you.
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the WordOfTorah