Thursday, July 13, 2006

Parshas Pinchas

Based on R' Frand (but with my application):

In this week's parsha, parshas Pinchas, we have the story of Tzelofchad's daughters. Tzelafchad is left without any sons to inherit his land in Israel so the daughter's came to Moshe asking if they, the daughters, could inherit his land. In the end, Moshe went to Hashem who said that when there are no sons, the daughters can inherit.

Interestingly, the Medrash says here that there are times when an individual cant merit the reward of an entire generation. The Medrash says that this happened to Noach, Avraham, Lot, and the Bnos (daughters) Tzelafchad.

When looking at the members of this list, Bnos Tzelafchad clearly stick out. It is understandable that Noach merited great reward; he fought off his generation for 120 years. It is understandable that Avraham merited great reward; he jumped into a fiery furnace for his ideals. It is even understandable that Lot merited great reward; he persevered even with the impure surroundings of Sodom. But what did Bnos Tzelafchad do to merit the reward of their entire generation? All they did was bring a shaila to Moshe! I ask good questions all the time - does that mean that I can merit the reward of this entire generation?

The Medrash says that you have to look at the times to fully understand this great reward. Klal Yisrael was kvetching and complaining to Moshe, "Let's go back; it's not worth it; we're better off in Egypt". Moshe's agenda for each day was deflecting complaints of the people. Now, in comes Bnos Tzelafchad, saying, "We don't care what everyone else is saying now, we know that the Land of Israel is where the future of the Jewish People lies." This must've been a breath of fresh air for Hashem.

They weren't concerned with the hardships immediately in front of them. They understood that even though things weren't peachy now, Israel was where they wanted to be; Israel was where they wanted a piece of their father's inheritance.

I think it is apropos that parshas Pinchas falls out this week, with hundreds of Katyusha rockets being fired into Israel; the same Israel that Bnos Tzelafchad so badly wanted. It's very easy to stick up for Israel at a time when its reaction to never-ending terror attacks is restrained. So often Israel takes attack after attack, usually with guarded restraint. It's easy to laud the country to others at these times, praising them for their restraint, humanity, etc.

But what about now? Israel is no longer sitting back taking blow after blow by Hizbullah, with seemingly more soldiers missing by the day. Israel has decided that Lebanon has to pay, and is exacting revenge in a heavy-handed manor. They are blowing up TV stations, government buildings, airports, and military bases. No longer can you brag to your friends that Israel is showing restraint - quite the opposite now. Many people are probably calling Israel out (ie, the European Union, various European countries) for its "disproportionate" response and aggression towards Hizbullah and Lebanon.

I believe the current situation in Israel and the story of Bnos Tzelafchad are similar. The Jews were complaining to Moshe that they wanted to go back to Egypt; that it was a better alternative than the present situation. This is the EU and European countries calling out the world saying "Israel is bad!". And what was the little act of Bnos Tzelafchad that caused them to get such great reward?: the little shaila to Moshe Rebbeinu. I believe that we, right now, can get great reward to sticking up for Israel; defending it to our co-workers, friends, and the media outlets - to anyone that is claiming that Israel is wrong in their actions.

Again, it's easy to stick up for Israel at times of restraint - but will you stick up for Israel at a time of heavy-handedness; at a time when alot of the world is calling for condemnation of Israel and their actions? The Medrash teaches us that we have to take the time into account when weighing how much reward an individual gets for a particular action. Surely, at a time like this, our defense of Israel will reap great rewards.


Blogger Jewboy said...

It's good to see Israel getting back to aggresiveness. It's the only language our opponents understand. Hopefully we're seeing Israel return to the attitude of taking care of its own and not caring what the world thinks instead of playing political games.

11:20 AM, July 13, 2006

Anonymous josh waxman said...

fyi, I included this post in my weekly parsha roundup.

I also give the actual text of the midrash there.

8:34 AM, July 14, 2006

Blogger AlanLaz said...


I did see that it was included in the roundup - thank you very much for the link.

I know that you like the original source - but I don't think it's necessary for my readership. Thanks again.

8:57 AM, July 14, 2006

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12:10 AM, July 16, 2006


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