Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Women Power Parsha

Have you read this weeks Parsha?    As a mother of daughter's this is one of those parsha's that don't seem to be discussed very much, but has a profound impact upon the rights of women everywhere.  Chapter 27 is when the four righteous daughters of  Zelophehad stand up for their rights of inheritance and it's shown that sons and daughters have equal rights to what was their fathers.

Chapter 27

1The daughters of Zelophehad the son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, of the families of Manasseh the son of Joseph, came forward, and his daughters' names were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. אוַתִּקְרַבְנָה בְּנוֹת צְלָפְחָד בֶּן חֵפֶר בֶּן גִּלְעָד בֶּן מָכִיר בֶּן מְנַשֶּׁה לְמִשְׁפְּחֹת מְנַשֶּׁה בֶן יוֹסֵף וְאֵלֶּה שְׁמוֹת בְּנֹתָיו מַחְלָה נֹעָה וְחָגְלָה וּמִלְכָּה וְתִרְצָה:
2They stood before Moses and before Eleazar the kohen and before the chieftains and the entire congregation at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, saying, בוַתַּעֲמֹדְנָה לִפְנֵי משֶׁה וְלִפְנֵי אֶלְעָזָר הַכֹּהֵן וְלִפְנֵי הַנְּשִׂיאִם וְכָל הָעֵדָה פֶּתַח אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד לֵאמֹר:
3"Our father died in the desert, but he was not in the assembly that banded together against the Lord in Korah's assembly, but he died for his own sin, and he had no sons. גאָבִינוּ מֵת בַּמִּדְבָּר וְהוּא לֹא הָיָה בְּתוֹךְ הָעֵדָה הַנּוֹעָדִים עַל יְהֹוָה בַּעֲדַת קֹרַח כִּי בְחֶטְאוֹ מֵת וּבָנִים לֹא הָיוּ לוֹ:
4Why should our father's name be eliminated from his family because he had no son? Give us a portion along with our father's brothers. " דלָמָּה יִגָּרַע שֵׁם אָבִינוּ מִתּוֹךְ מִשְׁפַּחְתּוֹ כִּי אֵין לוֹ בֵּן תְּנָה לָּנוּ אֲחֻזָּה בְּתוֹךְ אֲחֵי אָבִינוּ:
5So Moses brought their case before the Lord. הוַיַּקְרֵב משֶׁה אֶת מִשְׁפָּטָן לִפְנֵי יְהֹוָה:

Now I'm not saying that everything is roses here.  The text goes on to say that if a man has no sons then his daughters inherit, but if he has no daughters than his brothers (not sisters) get it.  If not a brother than his uncles (not Aunts) and so on.  But I'm still going to chalk this up to a victory for women everywhere.  

This is big news.  That these five sisters banded together to come to Moses and Eleazar (not to mention the entire congregation of the meeting) and say before all that they believed they were entitled to something.  Not just something, but everything.  They didn't want to share the inheritance with their Uncles, they stood up for themselves, and women and daughters everywhere, to get what was their due.

Now I'm not going to go into the legalistic quibbles about whether these women had to marry their cousins in order to inherit (which is probably true, since we talk about that a few pages later.)  It's a moralistic quandry to be sure, but not the message I'm trying to relate.

All to often I'm talking with EG about speaking up, getting across her point and using her words.  Here five women stood amongst men to claim what was theirs.  And rightfully so.

Additionally these are five sisters (shout out to H5!) who have eachother's backs.  Imagine what would have happened if four had stood together.  That means they are really all standing apart. 

There is a special bond between sisters (love you Becca!) and I want EG to embrace that bond with Ocho.  There will be many moments of difficulty, but this torah story illustrates that it's possible to stand-up to speak up and to stand together as one.  

Now EG and Ocho aren't quite ready for this story, but I think this YouTube video sums the parsha up fairly well, and puts the focus where I think it should be- the victory of women's rights and the idea of speaking up for your self.

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