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Matot-Massei. When a Halakhic Solution Creates a New Halakhic Problem

Last week we met the daughters of Zelophchad. Their father had an inheritance in the land of Canaan but had five daughters, no sons. Since inheritance passed through the male line, what would happen to his portion in the land? The five daughters felt that his ancestral holding in the land should be retained by the family. They approached Moses:

“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!” (27:4)

God affirms their argument and responds:

The plea of Zelophchad’s daughters is just: you should give them a hereditary holding among their father’s kinsmen; transfer their father’s share to them.(v.7)

And henceforth the inheritance law explicitly reflects the case of Zelophchad’s daughters:

“… Speak to the Israelite people as follows: ‘If a man dies without leaving a son, you shall transfer his property to his daughter” (v.8)