פנחס

This week’s parsha (which contains no commentary from the Rashbam) begins with the aftermath of the quintessential act of zealotry in the Torah, when Pinchas (Aharon’s grandson) – seeing the inaction on the part of Moshe and the elders – takes matters into his own hands to end the plague brought onto the Israelites through immoral sexual behaviour with the Midianites.  However, I would like to focus on the next narrative element of the parsha, the request of the daughters of Tzloph’chad.  In a short plea (27:2-4), they explain that their father died in the wilderness without leaving sons, and they would therefore receive no portion of the land of Cana’an under the current laws.  Hashem then revises the law, unusual as that may be, and decrees that daughters may inherit if there is no son.  Not only is the law changed, but the language used by Hashem is easy to champion from a feminist perspective, as Hashem says: “rightly the daughters of Tzloph’chad speak; surely give them the portion of inheritance among the brothers of their father, pass on their father’s portion to them” (27:7).  I think that this passage can teach us that, in time, progress towards equality can and does happen.

The law can change

When circumstances arise

Though change takes time

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