I hope that you’ll enjoy the following Parsha summary followed by a Dvar Torah;
” Parsha in a Nutshell “
Aaron’s grandson, Pinchas, is rewarded for his act of zealotry in killing the Shimonite prince Zimri and the Midianite princess: G-d grants him a covenant of peace and the priesthood.
A census of the people counts 601,730 men between the ages of 20 and 60. Moshe is instructed on how the Land is to be divided by lottery among the tribes and families of Israel. The five daughters of Tzelafchad petition Moshe that they be granted the portion of the land belonging to their father, who died without sons; G-d accepts their claim and incorporates it into the Torah’s laws of inheritance.
Moshe empowers Joshua to succeed him and lead the people into the Land of Israel. The Parshah concludes with a detailed list of the daily offerings, and the additional offerings brought on Shabbat, Rosh Chodesh, and the festivals of Passover, Shavuot, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret.
” Dvar Torah “
After almost forty years of wandering in the desert, the Jews finally reached the borders of Israel and were allowed to enter it. At this point, Hashem tells Moshe how to distribute the land among the Children of Israel, which is by lottery, and a portion is given to each tribe. And each tribe distributes its land among the heads of each family, which unlike today’s times, the man of house was the head of the family. However, Tzelafchad, a man from the tribe of Menasheh, died in the wilderness and left no sons behind. He was not part of Korach’s rebellion and his five daughters wanted to make sure that they receive his share in his name. So they came up to Moshe, Eleazar the priest and the entire assembly asking the following: “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 brothers!” Moshe, not sure of the law regarding father’s inheritance towards daughters, brings the issue before G-d, and G-d responds saying “The plea of Tzelafchad’s daughters is just: you should surely give them a hereditary holding among their father’s kinsmen; transfer their father’s share to them”.
However, in tracing the background of the daughters of Tzelafchad, the Torah seems to provide redundant information. The pasuk says: “The daughters of Tzelafchat, son of Hefer, son of Gilad, son of Machir, son of Menasheh, son of Joseph came near, …… and they stood before Moshe…” The Chachamim ask why did the tracing back their ancestors stopped at Yosef and didn’t go back to Jacob, Isaac or even Avraham? Rashi explains that the Torah is trying to show to us that the love for Eretz Yisrael is genetic. Yosef loved the Land of Israel and insisted that his bones be returned there after his death. This love for Eretz Yisrael ran in his family all the way down to Tzelafchad’s daughters, who insisted that they be given their fair portion in the Land.
Although, most commentators are satisfied with Rashi’s explanation, but there are still some who have doubts in Tzelafchad daughters love for Israel. Accordingly, they ask the following question: “How do we know their love for Eretz Yisrael was genuine? What if they were interested in the land for its financial benefit?”
Well, in order to answer this question, Rabbi Frand says that we first need to know who Tzelafchad was. There are difference of opinions regarding Tzelafchad’s identity. Some say that he was the wood-gatherer who desecrated Shabath and was killed, while others believe that he was among the group who tried to force their way into Canaan after the decree of the spies and was killed by the Canaanites. Either way, Tzelafchad’s death occurred some 38 years before the events of this week’s Parsha. If Tzelafchad’s daughters were interested in their father’s estate from a strictly financial point of view, why would they have waited 38 years to ask for it? Also, inheritance is not limited to land. What about his cattle? What about his other properties? Apparently, they were not interested in that. It was only now, when they were on the doorstep of Eretz Yisrael that they came pressing their claim for inheritance of their father’s portion. This is the demonstration of their love for the Land. They were silent regarding the cash and other valuable properties. However, their inheritance in the Land of Israel mattered greatly to them. And they inherited this affection to the Land from their great grandfather, Yosef!
Yes my friends, you don’t need to live in Israel in order to love Israel! Loving Israel is in our blood! Throughout the Jewish history, people showed their love for Eretz Yisrael even before seeing the land. Avraham left the comfort of his hometown, where he was well known and successful, to move to Israel, a land he has never seen before. Moshe Rabeinu pleaded with G-d several times to let him walk across the land just for once, which was unfortunately denied. Ruth, a gentile woman, followed her mother in law, Naomi, who had nothing to offer her, except the land of Israel!
So, what is it about this land that everyone is so crazy about? Is it because the land is holy and you feel closer to G-d? Is it because even the first time you step foot on this land, it feels as if you’ve come home? Is it because everyone around you is Jewish and you feel safe and secure living among your brothers? Is it because, Hashem protects and blesses the Land, as long as we keep his commandments? Is it because the land prospers miraculously, when it’s in the hand of the Jews? Or, could it be all of the above???
The Chachamim go as far as to say, that just breathing the air in Eretz Yisrael is a mitzvah! It is a privilege to live in our times; the time that we can walk freely on our land and see for ourselves the land flowing with milk and honey. It’s not a coincident that for 2000 years, when Israel was in the hand of other nations, it did not prosper and was just a desert. And now, only after 68 years, once the Jews took over, it has become one of the most advanced and productive countries in the world. We don’t need to be a genius or a Torah scholar to see that G-d wants the Jews to live in this land. He wants us to love and cherish this land, just like our ancestors did. The land that Moshe dreamed to put his feet upon it. Let’s not take it for granted!
In Iran, there is a city called Esfehan, and because of its charm, beauty and character, it’s been given the title of “nesfeh Jahan”– “half of the world”! But I’m afraid that they’ve got it all wrong, since the WHOLE world can be found in Israel!
Shabbat Shalom & Regards;