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The Torah's Weekly Portions
Numbers/Bamidbar - Pinchas101
Posted July, 2000
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Parashat Pinchas can be found in Bamidbar (Numbers) beginning at Perek Chav-Hay, pasuk yud (Chapter 25:verse 10) through Perek Lamed, pasuk beit (Chapter 30:verse 2).

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Often times, those who are not familiar with the Torah or with Judaism state that the God of the Torah is inflexible and vengeful.  As to the latter, we will deal with that in a later Parashah.  As to the former, Parashot Pinchas clearly demonstrates both the flexibility and just nature of God.

Before quoting the area that speaks to this particular issue, it should be pointed out that in Perek Chav-Vav (Chapter 26), God begins outlining how the land is to be divided according to the tribes of Yisrael.  When we get to the tribe of Yosef through his son Menasheh, we run into a bit of a snag.  Up until this point, there were male heirs for the land.  Zelophehad, however, left no sons - only daughters.  According to the Law, up until this point, inheritance could only be given to the sons.  Was this to mean that the portion for Menasheh's descendants was to be passed to others?  Let's see.

1. The daughters of Zelophehad, son of Hepher, son of Gilead, son of Machir, son of Manasseh, of the family of Manasseh son of Joseph drew near -- and these are the names of his daughters - Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah:

2. and they stood before Moses, before Elazar the Kohen, and before the leaders and the entire assembly at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, saying:

3. "Our father died in the Wilderness, but he was not among the assembly that was gathering against Hashem in the assembly of Korach, but he died of his own sin; and he had no son:

4. Why should the name of our father be omitted from among his family because he had no son? Give us a possession among our father's brothers.":

5. And Moses brought their claim before Hashem:

6. Hashem said to Moses, saying:

7. "The daughters of Zelophehad speak properly. You shall surely give them a possession of inheritance among the brothers of their father, and you shall cause the inheritance of their father to pass over to them:

8. And to the Children of Israel you shall speak, saying - If a man will die and he has no son, you shall cause his inheritance to pass over to his daughter:

9. If he has no daughter, you shall give his inheritance to his brothers:

10. If he has no brothers, you shall give his inheritance to the brothers of his father:

11. If there are no brothers of his father, you shall give his inheritance to the relative who is closest to him of his family, and he shall inherit it. This shall be for the Children of Israel as a decree of justice, as Hashem commanded Moses."

Two things are evident from this.  First, that the lack of justice in the Law was recognized by the author of that Law, Hashem.  Second, and no less important, God now covers all possible contingencies so there can be no question of how to handle these types of situations in the future.

In next week's Parashah, which combines Mattot and Masei, we will have another look at the inner workings of the Law.


Translations in Torah Portions of the week are partially taken from the ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash and from Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch Chumash

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