- Posted by Elaine Zecher
- On July 6, 2018
- 0 Comments
Welcome to Shabbat Awakenings, a weekly reflection as we make our way toward Shabbat.
It was time to divide the land. Though the Israelites remained in the wilderness and had not yet arrived to their ultimate destination, God wanted Moses to assess and register the descendants of the Israelites who came out of the land of Egypt. (Numbers 26:4)
With meticulous precision, Moses named the tribes and enrolled those twenty and above able to bear arms, numbering and counting them as he went along. He took careful note of the size of the tribe. This would help determine the amount of land apportioned as shares to each group, whether for larger or smaller groups. (26:56)
It seemed like a logical plan unless you were female and had no father to receive such an inheritance.
Enter the daughters of a man named Zelophehad who had died in the wilderness. Each had a name: Mahlah, Noa, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. They were not merely the female offspring of this deceased man. The Torah tells us their names as a way to pay attention to their plea.
Let not our father’s name be lost to his clan just because he had no son! Give us a holding among our father’s kinsmen! (27:4)
Moses immediately brought the case before the Eternal who passed this judgment:
The plea of Zelophehad’s daughters is just; you should give them a hereditary holding among their father’s kinsmen; transfer their father’s share to them. (27:6)
Moses turned the question over to God whose decision came quickly. They could have excluded these women. They could have found reason to prevent the participation in the apportioning of land. Instead, they said, “yes.” You are included here. You do belong here.
This was an act of loving kindness to set the course for the Israelites as they continued their trek toward the land of great promise. Community means finding ways to include.
Edwin Markham, an early 20th century American poet, wrote:
He drew a circle that shut me out—
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle to take him in!
Whether in the Torah or in the pages of history around the turn of the century, how we welcome the other, where we set our boundaries, and what we do with the eternal power of love continues to matter.
We most likely will be experiencing Qabbalat Shabbat inside if it continues to rain. Either way, let’s celebrate together. Engage in a lively Torah study tomorrow morning starting at 9:00 a.m. with a short service. Thank Goodness It’s Shabbat for the little ones takes place at 10:00 a.m. in the Chapel.
Connect with me here. Share your reflections and thoughts HERE.