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Joyful Comfort

Musings on the Passions of my life: Parenthood, Music, Education, Torah, & Getting Along w/ each other in this crazy world

They Speak Justly, “Kein Dovrot”

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In Parshat Pinchas, we read about the daughters of Tzlofchad, and how they choose to take action in the face of injustice. When a request such as theirs is met with success, it behooves us to examine their methodology, and learn from their example.

The story opens with the words:  “Vatikravna b’not Tzlofchad…”.  This denotes a sense of coming close, and it is their first course of action. We know that the Torah does not mention the names of individuals randomly. Often, we encounter characters who play a role, but remain unnamed throughout (particularly women). In this case, each of the five daughters of Tzlofchad is individually mentioned by name (twice!). This indicates not only that they played a vital role, and were worthy of mention by name, but also perhaps that they were not one and the same, not naturally a single-minded unit. And yet, they chose to pursue their cause as such. “Vatikravna” meaning that they came close to one another.

mic n stand

The p’sukim continue: “Vata’amodna lifnei…”, they stood proudly and presented their claim before Moshe, Elazar haCohen, the nesi’im, and the entire congregation. It is also apparent in the way that they approach Moshe that they had anticipated what difficulties might arise, and which obstacles they may encounter. They pre-empt these, by stating clearly that their father died in the desert, but not as part of Korach’s rebellion. And they  do not attempt to white-wash it, as they say that he died because of his own sin.

The Midrash Tanhuma on the words “Vatikravna b’not Tzlofchad” states that in that generation, the women maintained the boundaries (“hanashim hayu godrot”), while the men broke through the boundaries (“anashim portzin”).  At first glance, it seems incongruous to associate the revolutionary actions of Tzlofchad’s daughters with the concept of “godrot”, maintaining the boundaries. We would think the opposite is true. However, the manner in which they sought revolution was within the framework of respecting and maintaining boundaries. And G-d answers: “The daughters of Tzlofchad speak justly”.

(Insights gleaned in Torah & Creative Writing Workshop with esteemed author Sherri Mandell at the Women’s Beit Midrash of Efrat & Gush Etzion, July 2014)

*Picture featured: Rayons de soleil, Louis Janmot

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A Chain & its Many Links

heart chainDo you remember being in high school? For just a moment, try to recall what it was like. Smell the tuna salad; hear the din of the hallway in between classes – lockers slamming shut, students yelling about going out for pizza, or what’s for homework. I’m sure you can conjure up a pretty accurate picture. Do you remember the competitive nature of high school? There are so many realms where one-upmanship and insecurities run rampant: grades, looks, fashion, performing arts, creative writing, sense of humor, sense of ‘cool’, and the list goes on. Now imagine being in high school with a person who excels in each and every one of these realms (yes, despite what your mother told you, they do exist). Beautiful, blond, brainy, brilliant, great actress, talented writer, witty, super-ambitious, a born leader. You want to hate her already, don’t you? Well, you can’t. Because her magnetic personality has you smitten. And because in addition to all of those things, she is genuine, kind, caring and inclusive. That’s what it was like being in high school with Rochie Shoretz z”l.

During summer vacation before the start of my junior year, I received a call from the school principal, offering me a position as one of the heads of the school’s drama club. Three sophomores-to-be were already collaborating on the program, and she thought I’d be a great asset to the team. I needed some time to think about it, especially since I hadn’t even participated in the drama club(!) [forced to choose between acting and singing]. A few days later, I declined the offer. But while I was considering it, the trio (of which Rochie was an active part) reached out to me, sincerely inviting and welcoming my input – despite my being an outsider, an upperclassman who hadn’t even spent a day in the drama club, and despite the fact that they had already done much of the hard work. This always struck me as exceptional.

Yesterday, as my facebook feed filled with posts sporting her radiant smiling face, I was amazed by the sheer breadth of Rochie’s impact. People from all over North America and Israel, from all walks of life, be it from the legal community, patient advocacy groups, Jewish education forums, and representing a myriad of causes and organizations, had all been touched and inspired by her shining example. The incredible organization Sharsheret is only one of the many chains she initiated and nurtured, whose links reach far and wide.

Yehi Zichra Baruch (May her memory be for a blessing). Because really, it couldn’t possibly be anything but.

So, I guess I’m a blogger…

Aliza picI have friends who are writers. Friends who have always been writers to their very core. Me? I’ve never thought of myself as a writer.

I’ve always been a thinker.

I’ve always been a talker.

And as I make my way through the blogosphere, it seems to me that blogging is a lot like thinking and talking (no disrespect to the quality writers out there blogging. just a general observation).

So, bear with me, in this very humbling experience, as I try my hand at this form of expression…

And as Miss Rotenberg taught us in 2nd grade, comments and criticism are welcome (as long as they’re expressed politely and respectfully).

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