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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