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 Parshas Masei - Vol. 3, Issue 42
Compiled by Oizer Alport


V’hikrisem lachem arim arei miklat tih’yena lachem v’nas shama rotzeach makeh nefesh bishgaga (35:11)

            A man once traveled from Israel to Europe to collect money for the poverty-stricken yeshivos of Yerushalayim. Unfortunately, try as he might, his efforts at collecting were largely unsuccessful. Disappointing as it was, he was willing to accept Hashem’s decree. However, upon hearing that a non-religious agent collecting for Zionist causes had quickly reached his goal and was already on his return voyage, the man became distraught and frustrated. He approached the Chofetz Chaim for an explanation to help him understand Hashem’s perplexing ways.

            The Chofetz Chaim responded by noting that the Gemora in Makkos (10b) rules that signs must be placed along the road indicating which path accidental murders should take to arrive at the cities of refuge. Why don’t we find a similar law requiring that signs be posted pointing the way to Yerushalayim for those on their way to fulfill the mitzvah of ascending to the Beis HaMikdash on Yom Tov?

The Chofetz Chaim answered that a person on his way to a city of refuge, even if he is not an intentional murderer, is still not a moral role model to whom we want people to be exposed. Hashem wouldn’t have caused this to happen to a completely righteous person. We therefore provide directions for him so that he won’t have to stop to obtain them by interacting with innocent people.

On the other hand, the Medrash relates (Yalkut Shimoni Shmuel 1:1 77) that each year Elkanah would ascend to the Mishkan in Shiloh and share his plans with those he encountered, thus encouraging them to join him in the mitzvah. Each time he would take a different path so as to enable all Jews to participate in the mitzvah. There are no signs pointing the way to Yerushalayim so that a person ascending there will be forced to ask the locals for directions, thereby enabling them to become exposed to the righteous and join them in the performance of mitzvos.

The Chofetz Chaim concluded his words of comfort by suggesting that the representative of the anti-religious causes would act as a negative influence on all those he encountered. Hashem therefore enabled him to quickly obtain the funds he sought so that he would immediately leave, thus sparing the upright Jews of Europe from encountering his misleading ideologies. The representative of the Israeli yeshivos, on the other hand, was a righteous person representing holy causes. Frustrating as it was, Hashem wanted his collection efforts to be dragged out so as to allow as many people as possible to meet him and become inspired from his stories of the pious Jews studying Torah in Yerushalayim!


Zeh hadavar asher tziva Hashem liv’nos Tzelafchad leimor l’tov b’eineihem tih’yena l’nashim ach l’mishpachas mateh avihem tih’yena l’nashim (36:6)

The Torah requires a daughter who inherits land from her father to marry somebody from her father’s tribe to prevent the ownership of the land from being transferred to another tribe upon her death (36:7-9). Although the Torah seems to require the daughters of Tzelafchad to marry men from their father’s tribe (Menashe) for this reason, the Gemora in Bava Basra (120a) teaches that this wasn’t a commandment, but rather a piece of good advice that Hashem told Moshe to give them. As this section of the Torah was taught in response to the argument of the tribe of Menashe (36:1-4) that the marriage of the daughters of Tzelafchad to men from other tribes would bring about a reduction in the size of their tribal land, why wasn’t this advice indeed made an obligation incumbent upon them?

The Steipler answers by noting that the Rambam rules (Hilchos Nachalos 1:8) that a husband only inherits his wife’s possessions through a Rabbinical enactment. If one of Tzelafchad’s daughters married a man from another tribe, there was no fear that her land would pass to him. The only way for it to pass to another tribe would be if her son, whose tribe is determined by his father, inherits it from her.

The Gemora teaches that each of the daughters of Tzelafchad was already over the age of 40 at this time. The Gemora questions this claim by noting that if it were true, they would no longer be able to biologically bear children. The Gemora answers that although this should have been the case, Hashem made a miracle for them due to their righteousness and allowed them to have children.

In light of this Gemora, it is difficult to understand why the tribe of Menashe argued that the daughters of Tzelafchad shouldn’t be allowed to marry men from other tribes. Their husbands wouldn’t inherit the land, and they weren’t biologically capable of having children who might inherit it. We must conclude that their tribesmen recognized their piety and feared they may miraculously give birth to sons.

However, this miracle could only take place before Hashem gave the commandment regarding the transfer of tribal property. Once this mitzvah was given, there was no longer any basis for worry. In the event that the daughters of Tzelafchad would ignore Hashem’s preference and marry men from another tribe, they would no longer be considered sufficiently righteous to merit the miraculous birth of sons, which would result in the transfer of their tribal land.

With this understanding, it is now clear that there was no prohibition for the daughters of Tzelafchad to marry men from another tribe. Their husbands wouldn’t inherit their land, and they wouldn’t give birth to sons who could inherit it, thus leaving the land firmly in the hands of their relatives from the tribe of Menashe. Nevertheless, Hashem gave them a piece of “good advice.” If they married men from the tribe of Menashe, they could miraculously merit children, as in that case the children’s inheritance would pose no threat to the ownership of the tribal land!


Zeh hadavar asher tziva Hashem liv’nos Tzelafchad leimor l’tov b’eineihem tih’yena l’nashim ach l’mishpachas mateh avihem tih’yena l’nashim (36:6)

Although the Torah seems to require the daughters of Tzelafchad to marry men from their father’s tribe (Menashe), the Gemora in Bava Basra (120a) teaches that this wasn’t a commandment, but rather a piece of good advice that Hashem told Moshe to give them. Nevertheless, although they weren’t obligated to do so, the Torah testifies that they followed Hashem’s “advice,” and each of them found a man from her father’s tribe to marry.

Rav Zalman Sorotzkin notes that one might think that it would be difficult to find an appropriate spouse if a person’s dating pool is artificially reduced by 11/12. We would therefore expect to find that at least some of Tzelafchad’s daughters felt forced to ignore Hashem’s non-binding advice, especially when the Gemora in Bava Basra (120a) teaches that all of them had already reached the age of 40.

The Torah therefore emphasizes that no matter how restricted they may have felt in their choices, each of them recognized that each match is pre-destined and arranged by Hashem. Only He knows what is best for each person and uses special Divine Providence to bring it about. Each of Tzelafchad’s daughters understood that the apparent reduction in the size of her dating pool needn’t force her to remain single or to marry someone inappropriate for her. Following Hashem’s advice allowed each one to restrict her dating pool … to the one pre-destined bashert who would give her true happiness in life!


Answers to the weekly Points to Ponder are now available!
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Parsha Points to Ponder (and sources which discuss them):

1)     One of our fundamental beliefs is that the Torah isn’t a book of history, but rather only contains that information from which lessons may be derived which are relevant to every Jew in every generation. Why does the Torah relate at length the list of the 42 places to which the Jews traveled on their way from Egypt to Israel, and of what practical significance is this information? (Rabbeinu Bechaye, Peirush Raavad to Mishnayos Eduyos 2:9, Divrei Shaul, Toafos Re’em on Yereim 309, Taam V’Daas, Chavatzeles HaSharon)

2)     There is only one yahrzeit which is explicit in the Torah. Whose is it, and what is the date?

3)     Rashi explains (35:14) that although 9½ tribes lived in the land of Israel proper and only 2½ tribes lived on the other side of the Jordan River, the Torah nevertheless required that the 6 cities of refuge be evenly divided between the two regions due to the fact that there were a disproportionate number of intentional murderers living on the other side of the Jordan. Of what relevance is the prevalence of intentional murderers to the cities of refuge, which only provide protection to those who kill accidentally and not to intentional killers? (Ramban, Daas Z’keinim, Rav Eliyahu Mizrachi, Sifsei Chochomim, Gur Aryeh, Taam V’Daas)

4)     An accidental murderer is required to flee to a city of refuge and remain there until the death of the Kohen Gadol (35:25). The Mishnah in Makkos (11a) teaches that to ensure that they wouldn’t pray for the death of the Kohen Gadol, which would free them to return to their homes, the Kohen Gadol’s mother would send them food and clothing. Why specifically did the mother of the Kohen Gadol send these gifts and not the Kohen Gadol, his father, or his wife? (Aruch L’Ner Makkos 11a, Yachin Makkos 2:6, Toras Chaim, Peninei Kedem)

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