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By Rabbi Jonathan Tawil

The daughters of Tselofchad were very righteous and wise.

The Midrash (Otzar Midrashim p474) lists them among the 23 most righteous Jewish women in history.

Their father had died in the wilderness and left five girls behind. He had no sons. Now that the Bnei Yisrael were deciding on dividing the land of Israel, they realised that they would not receive a portion. This disturbed them tremendously. None of Tselofchads daughters were married and thus they would not inherit any land. They felt an injustice, their love for Eretz Yisrael was great, their father had left Egypt just like everyone else yet they as women would not be able to inherit a portion in the land. They presented their case to  the judges of tens, who referred it up to the judges of hundreds who again referred it up to the judges of thousands, until they to referred it on to none other then Moshe Rabenu.

How did the BnotTselofchad present their case to Moshe?

Our Sages (Bava Batra 119b) explain that they brought their case modestly in front of Moshe.

Rather then venting their frustration out at Moshe and the judicial system, they approached Moshe with the following question.

There is a law called Yibum. This refers to a man who marries a woman, and unfortunately dies without his wife having given birth to any children. The Torah teaches us that the brother of the deceased now has a mitzvah called Yibum to marry his brothers wife and thus (with Hashem’s help) have children, which will enable the name of the deceased to continue in this world.

The BnotTselofchad asked Moshe; what happens if the man and his wife have a girl and then the man dies? Is there still a mitzvah of Yibum? Does the fact that the girl has been born represent a continuation of the deceased in this world and thus Yibum does not need to be performed or is the girl not considered as proper inheritance and thus the wife should now remarry to the deceased’s brother.

To this Moshe answered that there is no law of Yibum in this case.

Once the man had a child, then there is no longer a law of Yibum.

The BnotTselofchad continued, saying, if so then why with regards to the mitzvah of Yibum are daughters called an inheritance, yet by the division of the land of Israel the daughters of the deceased are not?

This Kasha (question) was so awesome that Moshe had to turn to Hashem for guidance.

The episode is fascinating and we can learn a great deal from both the BnotTselofchad and from Moshe.

The BnotTselofchad brought their claim in a righteous manner; they desired the land with great love. (Rashi points out an interesting juxtaposition. The Torah says (Bamidbar 26:64) that the men of the “Desert Generation” died in the desert, because they did not love Israel. The next section tells of the daughters of Tselofchad and their request, to show the great difference between them. The men said “Nitnah Rosh veNashuvahMitzraymah -Let us turn our heads and go back to Egypt,” and the women said “TenahLanuAchuzah – Give us a share.”)

Moshe for his part as a great leader is not afraid to show that he is uncertain of the Halacha, he is happy and proactive in bringing their case to Hashem.

In fact our Sages note that the Torah relates – Vayakrev Moshe – Moshe brought close – he didn’t just go and ask, rather it was a Hakrava – bringing near to Hashem.

What is the meaning of this Hakrava?

After the passing of the previous Satmar Rebbe, Rabbi Yoel Teitlebaum, his successor the Sigeter Rebbe, came to Monsey to pay his respects to Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetzky, of blessed memory, who at the time was the oldest Rosh Yeshiva of the Lithuanian Yeshiva world. Along with the Rebbe came a significant group of his Chassidim who clung to the newly appointed seer, and were very curious to experience this first encounter between the Chassidic leader and the renowned Lithuanian sage.

The Chassidim piled into the house and began pushing to the front of the table Rav Yaakov, who was accustom to orderly conduct, asked that the Chassidim be seated as well. He mentioned that there were folding chairs in his basement.

One by one, each of the Chasidim brought up a chair from the basement, unfolded it, and sat down. After watching this scene repeat itself, Rav Yaakov could not contain himself.

“When somebody carries a chair from the basement and then sits on it, all he is is a Shlepper. But if each of you would bring a chair for someone else, then you become elevated. Instead of shleppers you become ba’aleichessed, kind-hearted men who are helping each other! With almost the same action, you are transformed from chair-haulers into holy people who sweat on behalf of their friend! Let us bring our actions away from ourselves and closer to Hashem!”

When Moshe heard the request of the BnotTselofchad, not only was he not worried at showing he did not know the rule in such a case, but when he did ask Hashem, he asked as if it was personal to him. Thus, Vayakrev – he brought their claim close to Hashem.

This episode in the Torah, teaches us that we should always endeavour higher and higher in our spiritual requests, always be prepared to ask. And on the other side of the coin, we should be prepared to say we don’t know when we are unsure and always try and view the other position as close to us.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Shaul Yonatan Tawil.

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