The Tzelofchod Five:
Nu, I have givaldige news: The Oisvorfer looked through the entire heylige Parsha of Pinchas, which we will read this coming shabbis, and though it’s mamish hard to believe, not many Yiddin die this week, in fact, only one. There is, however, plenty of other action and zicher you won’t want to miss this week’s laining.
And just to chap your attention, here’s a preview: Pinchas, the choshovo grandson of Aharoin hakoihen, who was known as a peacemaker, killed two people: one Yid and his Midianite paramour who happened to be a princess. Instead of being charged with murder in any degree, Pinchas was rewarded and shoin, even had a parsha named after himself. Not too shabby for a double murder. Vilst herrin noch (want to hear more)? As another reward, he received the ‘peace prize’ directly from the RBSO. Actually, this murder mystery took place at the very end of last week’s Parsha but is mentioned at the outset this week because seemingly there are new facts in the case, including the identity of the two scoundrels that challenged Moishe by having epes a shtikel open sexual encounter in public view, if you chap. Back to this week: Immediately following the death of the 24,000 and the two as of yet unnamed out of control sex fiends, it’s count time. We are still in, what they call, the book of Numbers, and the RBSO wants to know who and how many men are left after the myriad Midbar fiascos, each having led to a thinning out of the male population, just as the RBSO had planned it. Seemingly the Yiddin are getting ready to finally enter the Promised Land. Just so you have at least one fact for the shabbis tish, the count revealed 601,730 men (between the ages of 20 and 60), others seemingly not counted. Moishe gets instructions on how the Land is to be divided using the first ever lottery system, among the shevotim (tribes) and families of the Yiddin. Next: The five techter (daughters) of a fellow named Tzelofchod (more on him soon enough), petitioned Moishe- they too want land – and this is the focus of this week’s Toirah from the Oisvorfer. But wait, there’s more: Moishe gets the bad news that he’s not among those that will make it over to the Promised Land, he does, however, get a peek and is also instructed to appoint a successor and an assistant to the successor. The mantle of leadership changes right here in Parshas Pinchas as we welcome Yehoishua and his assistant. The Parsha ends with a detailed list of korbonois that will zicher lull you to sleep; we’ll do our best to skip over these.
Nu, since Pinchas is seemingly a hero for stopping the plague that claimed 24,000 lives by killing the dynamic duo, let’s see what others said about him. Who was he? Ershtens (firstly), by way of background, his buba (grandmother) was one of the daughters of Putiel (Shmois6:25), a descendent of Yisroy who had married into the family of Yoisef. A gantzer Yid with 100% jewish blood, he wasn’t. Apparently, Pinchas was an only child, and the father of a son named Avishua (Chronicles 1, 6:35). The Medrish and heylige Gemora tell us that Pinchas was subject to great ridicule throughout much of his life due to his mother’s foreign origins. Though he only gets Toirah mention for his actions in this week’s Parsha, seemingly, he also had an impressive resume. When the Yiddin went out to avenge the Midianites for their treachery (Bamidbar 31:6), Moishe chose Pinchas to head the forces that defeated them. And says the heylige Gemora (Soitah 43a): that the reason that Pinchas led the battle against the Midianites was in order to avenge the sale to Egypt of his great-grandfather, Yoisef, by the Midianites. A long memory he did have.
The Novee tells us (Yehoishua 22): Pinchas was sent along with 10 tribal leaders to reason with the tribes of Reuven, Gad and half of Menashe, after these shevotim (tribes) built a large mizbayach (altar) for themselves on the east side of the Jordan. Through his diplomatic negotiations with the prodigal tribes, Pinchas elicited an apology from them, acknowledging that they had no intention of offering sacrifices on the illegal altar, but rather hoped that the altar would serve as an affirmation of their commitment to the tribes of Israel and the unity of the nation. And the Novee in Shoiftim (20:28) tells us that Pinchas, in his function as a Koihen, consulted with the Urim and Tumim in the treacherous incident of the concubine of Gibeah.
It’s taka emes that Pinchas killed Kosbi and Zimri without authority, ober he is nevertheless regarded as a national hero. Jewish tradition considers his act honorable because it stopped the Jewish men from engaging in wholesale lewdness. Retail would have avada been much worse. Veyter.
Were all the BNY happy with Pinchas’s actions? Was he considered a hero for stopping the orgy, I mean plague? Avada nisht! When Pinchas killed Zimri and Kosbi, a tremendous controversy erupted among the people as to whether his actions were correct or criminal. There were those who wanted Pinchas dead for killing another Jew, oy vey and his innocence was only resolved after the RBSO testified to the correctness of his actions. And since when is having sex with a shiksa punishable by death? Ober says the medrish: that Pinchas impaled the woman through the belly and aimed his spear between their male and female genitalia proving that he did not kill them in vain. Why would we think that he had killed them in vain? Rather, the heylige Toirah is alluding to the halocho (law) that a zealot has free reign (to kill) only while the act is in progress. In other words: don’t get chapped while chapping: this could be dangerous to your health. Actually the Medrish tells us that had Pinchas not stepped up with his spear and murdered them, the magayfo (plague) would have continued, chas v’sholom. The medrish is, of course, telling us that way more than 24,000 participated in the free sex act, no surprise here,but that the RBSO was appeased after Pinchas took matters into his own hands. And had Zimri done the same, perhaps he would have lived longer.
Let’s meet the Tzelafchods, mishpocho of five, count ’em, daughters and seemingly no parents and for sure no father. How did these single girls make it into the heylige Toirah not once but a total of three times? Lommer lernin (let’s learn). Says the heylige Toirah azoy?
|1. The daughters of Zelophchod the son of Cepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Mochir, the son of Menasheh, of the Menasheh family the son of Yoiseph, came forward, and his daughters’ names were Machla, Noiah, Choglah, Milkoh, and Tirzah.||
א. וַתִּקְרַבְנָה בְּנוֹת צְלָפְחָד בֶּן חֵפֶר בֶּן גִּלְעָד בֶּן מָכִיר בֶּן מְנַשֶּׁה לְמִשְׁפְּחֹת מְנַשֶּׁה בֶן יוֹסֵף וְאֵלֶּה שְׁמוֹת בְּנֹתָיו מַחְלָה נֹעָה וְחָגְלָה וּמִלְכָּה וְתִרְצָה:
|2. They stood before Moishe and before Elozor the koihen and before the chieftains and the entire congregation at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, saying,||
ב. וַתַּעֲמֹדְנָה לִפְנֵי מֹשֶׁה וְלִפְנֵי אֶלְעָזָר הַכֹּהֵן וְלִפְנֵי הַנְּשִׂיאִם וְכָל הָעֵדָה פֶּתַח אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד לֵאמֹר:
|3. “Our father died in the desert, but he was not in the assembly that banded together against the Lord in Koirach’s assembly, but he died for his own sin, and he had no sons.||
ג. אָבִינוּ מֵת בַּמִּדְבָּר וְהוּא לֹא הָיָה בְּתוֹךְ הָעֵדָה הַנּוֹעָדִים עַל יְ־הֹוָ־ה בַּעֲדַת קֹרַח כִּי בְחֶטְאוֹ מֵת וּבָנִים לֹא הָיוּ לוֹ:
|4. Why should our father’s name be eliminated from his family because he had no son? Give us a portion along with our father’s brothers. “||
ד. לָמָּה יִגָּרַע שֵׁם אָבִינוּ מִתּוֹךְ מִשְׁפַּחְתּוֹ כִּי אֵין לוֹ בֵּן תְּנָה לָּנוּ אֲחֻזָּה בְּתוֹךְ אֲחֵי אָבִינוּ:
|5. So Moishe brought their case before the RBSO.||
ה. וַיַּקְרֵב מֹשֶׁה אֶת מִשְׁפָּטָן לִפְנֵי יְ־הֹוָ־ה:
What’s taka going on here? And what went down here, besides Zimri and Kosbi after they were speared and got the point? Seemingly, we’re in year 40 and the Yiddin are about to chap up the land. Moishe, for the first time, is given instructions on who gets what and the girls are seemingly, at least at first, left out.
Before launching into their plea, the girls, by way of introduction, said: “Our father died in the desert. He was not part of the group that rebelled against the RBSO in Koirach’s assembly, but rather, he died due to his own sin.” Next, they tell Moishe that their father had no sons. What sin might that be and what’s the big deal about not having sons? Nu, depends on who you ask and let’s see what some say, mind boggling as it may seem.
Says the Lev Aryeh: the heylige Gemora (Moied Koton18a) says that the members of Koirach’s group all accused their wives of having illicit relationships with Moishe, deeming them all Soitahs. You hear this Raboyseyee? Moishe Rabaynu in an illicit relationship with 250 women? Say it’s not so please; just the thought makes the Oisvorfer mishuga mamish. Who could even think of such a terrible scenario and plot? Ver Veyst but that’s what this Lev Aryeh says and the Oisvorfer is merely, as always, but repeating- so shoot me! Anyway, says he, if a woman accused of being a Soitah is exonerated after drinking the magic water concoction, if she previously had only daughters she merited having a son. All those who followed Koirach and accused their wives, shortly thereafter had sons, proving avada not just their innocence but also avada that Moishe had clean hands, despite the fact that just two weeks ago, he misused his shtekin, if you chap (exactly how they get pregnant and from whom, is a shtikel kasha given that all of Koirach’s followers disappeared into another hole, if you chap, but it’s Medrish; not always are the loose ends tied up). The Bnois Tzelofchod told Moishe, our father was not in Koirach’s group and to prove it our mother did not have sons. In other words: though he seemingly died for his own sin, it wasn’t because of those sins and he wasn’t part of the Koirach rebellion. Shoin. Veyter.
What other terrible sin could he have committed for which he died in the Midbar? Well, according to many, but of course not all, Tzelofchod was the fellow caught playing with his wood on shabbis (a few weeks back in Parshas Shelach) and was sentenced to an immediate death leaving behind 5 bereaved daughters. So says Rashi, quoting Rebbe Akiva. Ober, Reb Shimon says: “He was among those who were defiant [attempting to enter the Land, after the sin of the meraglim (spies)].”
And without any introduction the heylige Toirah tells us that together these five (Machlah, Noah, Chaglah, Milkah and Tirtzah) approached Moishe to talk about their share of the land. Chap so far? Ok- veyter. Land is given out according to the father’s household. But there is no father and he has no sons- what to do? So what exactly took place here? Tzelofchod passed away and left five daughters. We are taught, as you will read below, that they are all righteous, intelligent and learned. So much so that at forty, they’re all still husbandless: too qualified for most men. None can find a spouse that is her intellectual equal: They’re too good, seemingly too smart and too picky for the many oisvorfs wandering the midbar.
Says the Medrish (Oitzar Midrashim pg. 474): the daughters of Tzelofchod were among the 23 most righteous Jewish women in history. And says the Medrish (Sifri Bamidbar 133): that they were scholarly; they appear to have been learned women. Bamidbar Rabbah (21:11) says that this is how they knew to speak up exactly when Moishe was learning the laws of inheritance. When they heard Moishe say that Eretz Yisroel is to be divided according to the number of male children in the family, they realized that, under this ruling, their father’s name will be forgotten and they would be wiped out financially. What to do? They decided to claim their father’s inheritance so that his name would be perpetuated. The daughters of Tzelofchod claimed that since their father did not die in Koirach’s rebellion, but in the sanctification of the RBSO’s name, their “father’s house” should not suffer exclusion from the lottery. This episode in our Parsha was their initial Toirah appearance (Bamidbar 27). Moishe consulted with the RBSO, who said they were correct, and a share of land should go to them. Interestingly the daughters of Tzelofchod get, as stated above, two more Toirah mentions, more than many other Toirah personalities.
Says another Midrash (Bamidbar Rabbah): the daughters of Tzelofchod followed in the footsteps of our greatest forefathers by standing tall to defend the RBSO’s Toirah – and by defying the conventional wisdom of their generation. As a result, they received the reward that was reserved for all the people of their time. They are compared to Noiach, who stood against the generation of the flood, and to Avrohom Oveenu, who stood against the generation of the tower of Bavel. So too, the daughters of Tzelofchod displayed their love for Eretz Yisrael and approached Moishe at the time when the rest of Yiddin were asking to “appoint a leader and return to Egypt.” And just as Noiach and Avrohom received the reward designated for the entire generation, so too did the daughters of Tzelofchod obtain a disproportionate remuneration, as we will soon learn, for displaying their love for Eretz Yisroel.
Efsher you want to know why Moishe had to consult with the RBSO and why he himself didn’t know the answer. Me too, let’s find out. Interestingly enough, this was one of only four places in Toirah where Moishe sought Divine counsel to gain ultimate clarity regarding Halacha. Nu, the first person to correctly provide the other three, will be rewarded with a shout-out next week. Ober why taka didn’t Moishe know what to do? .Our chachomim (Sages) posit a few possible explanations:
1. Says the heylige Gemora (Sanhedrin 8a): We try to give merit to those who are meritorious. The laws of inheritance (in a case with no sons) would have been recorded eventually, but due to the great display of love for the land of Israel, the girls earned the right to have this law mentioned with their name. In other words: they got a shout out.
2. Say a few Medroshim: Moishe hut fargessen (he forgot) this law, efsher he was in a state of shock at being accused of having epes relationships with 250 veyber. And says Rashi (Devarim 1:17): this forgetting of the law, was actually a punishment to Moishe, because he instructed the judges of lower courts, “That which is too tough for you, bring to me and I will hear it.” This made him appear arrogant when it came to dealing with the bereaved daughters. Said the RBSO to Moishe: “The daughters of Tzelofchod will know a law that you won’t.”Avada, not all like this pshat including the heylige Gemora (Sanhedrin 8a) which mamish actually entertained this idea, and rejected it because Moishe explicitly stated he didn’t know everything – he said, “bring to me, and I will hear it,” meaning he would hear it from the RBSO.
3. Says the heylige Gemora elsewhere (Buba Basra 119a) that Moishe knew the girls would get a share, what he didn’t chap was whether or not the girls would inherit not just their father’s slated share but also the share possibly coming to their father (double share) as a first-born son.
4. Another approach: (Bimidbar Rabbah 21:12): the lower courts who heard this case felt that they weren’t worthy of handling it, because it involved distribution of land in Israel. As a result, they all kicked it upstairs, and Moishe, in his great humility, did the same, up to the RBSO.
In their second appearance (Bamidbar 36) they again approached Moishe, this time to ask what would happen to their land when they married. Ordinarily, children inherit their parents’ land and possessions, and the children are identified with their father’s tribe. As such, the property of Menasheh (their tribe) could end up in another tribe. Moishe responded that their concern was valid, and to ensure their assets, they should marry members of their own tribe. Avada it’s understood that a daughter with land and or a few dollars has an easier time getting married so mistama we can understand their concern about losing the land and their husbands not being very happy.
In their third Toirah appearance (Yehoishua 17) they approached Yehoishua during the division of Israel, and took their appropriate shares among the sheyvet of Menasheh and more. More?
Another Medrish, my personal favorite, tells us that these girls were mamish geniuses and proves it as follows. When confronted, Moishe punted on the question and took it to the top, to the RBSO. Said He: “Keyn Benois Tzelofchod Dovrois,” “The daughters of Tzelofchod speak accurately.” And what did they get? Their portion of the land? No! The daughters of Tzelofchod actually received four shares:
- Tzelofchod’s regular share, as someone who left Mitzrayim and made it all the way through the journey.
- Tzelofchod’s share in the inheritance from his father, Chefer.
- Tzelofchod’s second share in the inheritance from his father, Chefer. Why a double share? Seemingly Tzelofchod was a bechoir (first-born), and so he received pi shenayim (a double share).
Tzelofchod had a brother who died in the desert; they received Tzelofchod’s share of that brother’s portion as well. Moreover, they actually ended up with land on both sides of the Jordan (Bamidbar Rabbah 21:12). Half of the tribe of Menasheh took land on the east of the Jordan, and the other half waited until the Jews crossed the Jordan. The daughters took from both areas. Aggressive? Very!!
And as you can only imagine, shortly after that, they had no problem getting married, even past 40. An though there is a law that Moishe passed down that would have ordinarily caused them to lose their land (Moishe declared for that generation alone – (Taanis 30b) women who inherited land would have to marry within their tribe, or forfeit the land), seemingly these sly foxy daughters were excepted from this ruling. And we know this because the heylige Gemora (Buba Basra 120a) tells us that Moishe said the daughters of Tzelofchod could marry whomever was “good in their eyes!” The Gemora concludes that the daughters were exempt from this rule.
One has to wonder why Tzelofchod’s daughters’ names were never really popularized or why more males aren’t named Pinchas.
A gitten shabbis-