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   by Jacob Solomon

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There are two places in the Torah where Moses approaches G-d for information. Both are in this Book, the Book of Numbers. The first time is in this Parasha. A group of people were ineligible to bring the Pesach offering together with the rest of the community because they were Halachically impure through contact with a human corpse. 'Why should we be prevented', they declared to Moses and Aaron 'from bringing the offering to G-d at the right time, like every else in Israel'? (9:7) And Moses acknowledged their supplication with: 'Stand. I will hear what G-d will tell you to do' (9:8).

The Sifri comments that the normal course of the Torah is for G-d to give the commandments directly through Moses, rather than in response to a specific request for information. But because of the sincere desire of these people to perform the commandments and fulfill the will of the Creator, G-d gave them the honor of being the cause of bringing the solution to the people - Pesach Sheini - a second opportunity to observe Passover a month later, in a very modified form.

This type of situation comes later. The daughters of Zelaphchad approached Moses with:

Our father died in the desert, but he was not among the assembly that stood against G-d in the assembly of Korach, but he died though his own sin, and he did not have sons. Why should the name of our father be omitted from his family because he had no male children? Please give us a possession amongst our father's brothers' (27:3,4).

And Moses acknowledged their concern by 'bringing their claim before G-d' (27:5). G-d, the text relates, allowed their request, by making the daughters the heirs to their due family inheritance in the Land. He also gave them the honor being the cause of Divine legislation for a wider range of similar issues - a set of laws enabling land to stay in the family (Num. 27:6-11).

The two situations have the following in common. The group of Israelites voiced their anxiety about not being able to fulfill the annual mitzva of Passover at right time. The Sifre underlines the words: ''Why should we be prevented from bringing the offering to G-d at the right time, like every else in Israel?' They were not motivated by greed, sentiment, or the urge to get the attention and be honored by their leader. Their sole concern was based on one thing: 'What is the right thing to do?' It was that concern which enabled G-d hot-lining a response to Moses that brought about the modification of His Law.

And the daughters of Zelaphchad had also acted in the same way. They were not motivated by greed, sentiment, or the urge to have part of the Holy Land glittering with their names in gold letters. Their sole concern was based on one thing: 'What is the right thing to do?'They were anxious to do just one thing - perpetuate the name of their deceased father on arrival and sharing out the Holy Land, so that his name and the family name would not be 'blotted out in Israel' (c.f. Deut. 25:6). In the same way as the group of people wanted to observe Passover despite their legal status difficulties, so the daughters wanted to observe the mitzvah of settling in the Land despite their legal status difficulties.

'He fulfills the will of those who fear Him' (Psalms 145:19). As the Rabbis put it, he that comes to purify himself (i.e. improve himself in any way) will receive help from Heaven.

Written by Jacob Solomon. Tel 02 673 7998. E-mail: for any points you wish to raise and/or to join those that receive this Parasha sheet every week.

Parashiot from the First, Second, and Third Series may be viewed on the Shema Yisrael web-site:

Also by Jacob Solomon:
From the Prophets on the Haftara

Test Yourself - Questions and Answers


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