Friday, July 13, 2012

PINCHAS: DAUGHTERS AND FESTIVALS


by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman



Judaism has been responsive to women's concerns since its inception. Any alleged signs of discrimination had more to do with combating the cultural mores and social norms and customs of the general culture which the earliest Hebrews absorbed. But Judaism itself had always ascribed a high premium and an esteemed sense of worth to its women and their role as complementary and equal partners in creating a holy and wholly new kind of society.

Sandwiched in between the new census of Israel and the overview of the festivals along with the descriptions of their relevant sacrificial offerings is the fascinating narrative of the Daughters of Zelafchad - a petition over inheritance issues. Seemingly irrelevant contextually to the balance of the parsha, its placement nevertheless has a deeper meaning altogether above and beyond its inherent meaning.

Remarkably, up until the generation of the Exodus Israel's holy day was exclusively the Sabbath. The particulars of her observance emerged only after the revelation at Sinai. Heretofore its general observance adhered in pupa form, as our tradition teaches that our Matriarchs, the founding mothers of Israel, themselves kindled the Sabbath lights.

It was the members of the generation of the Exodus who were given a new history, marked by new festivals. Passover marked their liberation, Shavuot marked their mission, while Succoth recorded their Divine Protection and looked to a future time beyond history. It would be a time of eschatalogical redemption.

Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur would function as barometers, measuring the nation's fealty to its Divine Mission and enabling her to purge herself from sin, barriers to fulfilling her destiny. Men and women, as equal partners, would together serve Hashem and observe His festivals upon now re-entering the Land, just as they together had observed the Sabbath all along.

The daughters of Zelafchad are actually named. Twice. This is remarkable considering that the Torah explicitly leaves unmentioned the names of Mrs. Noah (we know her name is Na'amah thanks to the Midrash) as well as the daughters of Lot and Mrs. Lot their mother. Of course not every male in the Torah is explicitly mentioned by name either.

By actually naming the daughters- Machlah, Noa, Chaglah, Milkah and Tirtzah, the Torah is not only giving them honor and prominence, but is also connecting all Jewish women to our festivals and traditions. In essence, it is a constitutional amendment of sorts to guarantee the rights of all the women of Israel for all generations, not just the specific daughters of Zelafchad.

While the American legal system was not inherently discriminatory against Jews, Jews still had to fight to assert their inherent rights in the new society in order to overcome the prejudices of those who held the reins of power. Likewise, Judaism did not inherently discriminate against women. But it was up to the women themselves to assert their rights.

The episode of Zelafchad and his daughters is but a microcosm of the larger struggle of the women of Israel to stand alongside their men as equal partners before G*d. The new era of entering the Land of Israel under Joshua's leadership would not be tarnished by reducing the value and worth of the Jewish woman. It might have been intuitive to blame all women and adopt a generalized misogyny, even towards Israelite women, on account of the seductions of the Moabite/Midianite alliance and the attendant plague. Thus their worth was explicitly affirmed.

The names of the daughters themselves are each intimately tied to the festivals themselves, as if to underscore their inherent connection:

Machlah is tied to Passover. Machlah means forgiveness, and only Hashem's mercy permitted His taking Israel up from out of Egypt in spite of Israel's degradation, self or otherwise.

Noa is tied to Shavuoth. It means pleasant or distinguished. The Torah's ways are pleasant. Israel is distinguished by her observance of the spirit and laws of the Torah.

Chaglah is connected to Succoth. Chaglah means "to encircle." We are encircled in our festival booths by the or hamakif, the encircling light, symbolic of G*d's Divine protection. The shorter word within the word, Chag, means festival. Indeed, when tradition mentions HeChag - the festival, she means Succoth, festival par excellence.

Milkah is connected to Rosh Hashanah. Rosh Hashana is the coronation of Hashem as sole ruler of the universe. Milkah is related to malchut, meaning kingdom.

Lastly, Tirtzah is connected to Yom Kippur. It is related to the word ratzon, which means "will" or "acceptable." On Yom Kippur, Israel's sins having been forgiven, her will and the Divine Will are now as one. Her atonement was accepted.

The new moon offerings are self-understood to be related to the Jewish woman. No elaboration was necessary.Walking figuratively hand in hand into their new land to create a new society under Torah, the Jewish man and Jewish woman would be partners working in harmony to fulfill the new Jewish mission of creating one nation, under G*d Who is invisible and indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Shabbat Shalom!
Good Shabbos!



© 2000 - 2012 by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman
These words of Torah are written in the merit of my beloved father, Israel J. Melman, obm, Yisrael Yehoshua ben Harav Ya'aqov Hakohen Melman, z"l and in memory of my beloved mother, Esther Melman, obm, Esther bat Baruch z"l.




Chabibi stands for CHidushei Baruch Binyamin ben Yisrael Yehoshua
(a chidush, from the word chadash, means a new, original or fresh perspective)



No comments:

NEVER GIVE UP!

Loading...

Reb Shlomo with Reb Zusha ben Avraham Zimmerman

Reb Shlomo with Reb Zusha ben Avraham Zimmerman

moshav band live at mexicali blues

Loading...

What mind is it?

"Great minds discuss ideas;
average minds discuss events;
small minds discuss people."
-Eleanor Roosevelt


ON FIXING AND HEALING...

"If you believe that you can damage, then believe that you can fix..... If you believe that you can harm, then believe that you can heal..........." Rebbe Nachman of Breslov

Hatiqwa

Loading...

Beta Israel - Ethiopian Jews - The Ingathering from Without

Loading...

Palestinians of Jewish origin - The Ingathering from Within

Loading...

Holy Wedding at Makhpela, Tomb of our Fathers in hevron - Music by Pey Dalid

Loading...

Mariane Paradise and The Gan Eden Project sings of the Unity of All Creation from Jerusalem

Loading...

A SACRED DUTY: APPLYING JEWISH VALUES TO HELP HEAL THE WORLD

Loading...

IVDU ET HASHEM B'SIMCHA- SERVE THE LORD WITH JOY DANCING AND SINGING FROM INSIDE A BOMB SHELTER

Loading...

SELICHOT LIVE AT CARLEBACH SHUL 2008

Loading...

NAZI RALLIES AND SPEECHES

Loading...

JEWISH MEN AND WOMEN GATHER TO CELEBRATE REB SHLOMO'S 14TH YAHRZEIT SINGING AT HIS GRAVE

Loading...

MOSHAV BAND - THE ONLY ONE

Loading...

Reb Zalman on Jewish Renewal

Loading...

Let There Be Peace

Loading...
"No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care."

- anonymous
"Perhaps the greatest force in the entire universe is compounded interest."

- Albert Einstein

the last hoshana rabba with reb shlomo and me playing together the week before he took off in '94

Loading...

bob marley - one love 6:13 (6 MINUTES 13 SECONDS) and exodus

Loading...

Tisha B'Av 5765 Katif Expulsion

Loading...

Children of Sderot - The Daily Terror and Nightmares

Loading...

Let Me Sing a New Song

Loading...

On Schlomo's magnificent 13th (Bar Mitzvah) yahrzeit in Heaven

Loading...

AMAZING INTERVIEW WITH REB SHLOMO top video only

Loading...

Larry David wants to Save the Planet

Loading...

Havdalah Ceremony on Moshav Meor Modiin in Central Israel

Loading...

Alpha blondy from cote d'ivoire sings his love of Jerusalem in Hebrew and French all over the world

Loading...
When I was young I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people.- Abraham Joshua Heschel
The whole world is a very narrow bridge. And the most important thing is to not be afraid.
-Rebbe Nachman of Breslov
"The greatest thing in the world is to do somebody else a favor." - Aish Kodesh
"As you want G*d to give you a chance, give everyone else a chance to also begin again." - Shlomo Carlebach

About Me

My photo
United States
I played violin with Reb Shlomo and studied under him for over nine years at hundreds of concerts and learnings. Shlomo wanted to give me smicha before he passed. Deepest influences: My father,obm, who was a great scientist and human being, and my grandfather, obm, who was a great Torah scholar who was a musmach of the Mir Yeshiva and taught in Slobodka in Russia before WW1, and was also personal friends with the Chafetz Chaim and came to America in 1914. He knew the Talmud by heart! You could stick a pin in a word and he could tell you what word was on the other side! And my mother, Esther bat Baruch, z"l, who was a scholar of classical Hebrew and Tanach and who gave me a love for the language. And her mother, Anna (Sucher) Deutsch, who was born in Horodenka, spoke six languages, and shared her aged wisdom and eternal sweetness with me. I studied at Brandeis, Hebrew College, Pardes as well as seven years at The Metivta/ITJ earning my Advanced Semicha (yoreh yoreh)under Rav Halivni. What's truly amazing is that Shlomo and Rav Halivni each received semicha from Rav Hutner! But my deepest influences of them all are my sweetest sweetest girls who have taught me the most!