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Pinchas. The Power of Few

This is a parsha which looks forward with eager anticipation to Israel’s entry to the land of Israel. With the nation already poised on the border (22:1), we now read how “the land is to be apportioned by lottery; according to the listings of their ancestral tribe”(26:52-4), and we witness the appointment of Joshua who will lead the nation into its national home.

This is a parsha that presents a diverse array of powerful and colorful leaders: the zealous Pinchas, Joshua - “the man who has spirit within” (27:18), and the five daughters of Zelophchad.

I love the names of the daughters of Zelophchad‎. Each of them is indicative of movement: The name Mahla – from the root “to dance”; Noa – to move; Milka – a derivative of the verb “to walk”, Hoglah – from a root that indicates a circular motion , Tirza – contains the root “to run”. They are literally movers and shakers.

Sometimes, these five women are hailed as feminist heroes, as they stake a claim to land inheritance as women, in a place where men are the sole inheritors of the land.

“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!” (27:3-4)

But I would like to share a reading of this story that gives the daughters of Zelophchad an even wider leadership role: