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P' Matos-mas'ei - Divisions and Unity

07/23/2017 01:08:02 PM


Rabbi Daniel Gutlove

In last week’s parsha, the daughters of Tzlaphchad asked for the right to inherit the portion of Eretz Yisroel of their father. Moshe Rabbeinu brought their claim to Hashem and He granted their request. In the end of this week’s parsha, the leaders of the tribe of Menashe come forth with their own concern. If Tzlaphchad’s daughters were to marry someone from another tribe, the land that they inherited would pass from the tribe of Menashe to the other tribe. Again, Moshe brings the claim to Hashem and He agrees to the request. Any daughters who are to inherit their father, because they have no brothers, must marry within their own tribe. And indeed, the daughters of Tzlaphchad married their cousins, keeping the tribal lands intact.

While it seems from the pesukim that the claim of the leaders of Menashe is correct and that it would be a good thing to enforce the requirement that inheriting daughters must marry within their tribe, the Gemara gives the opposite indication. In Taanis, after listing the 5 calamities that befell Klal Yisroel on Tisha b’Av, it lists 6 causes for celebration that make Tu b’Av one of the happiest days of the year. One of these 6 reasons is that it was on Tu b’Av that it was decided that the intent of the above command was to apply only to the generation of those who were entering the land. All future generations of inheriting daughters would be allowed to marry into a different tribe, even though it would cause the land to pass from tribe to tribe. However, if the claim of the leaders of Menashe was correct and it would be a terrible loss to the tribe to lose the land, why should it apply for only that generation? And why would its revocation be such a tremendous simcha worthy of making Tu b’Av into one of the 2 happiest days of the year?

The Gemara in Bava Basra makes this whole incident even more perplexing. The Gemara states that this rule that women must marry within their tribe applied to all inheriting daughters of that generation EXCEPT for the daughters of Tzlaphchad, who were allowed to marry whomever they wanted from any tribe. They were advised to marry someone from their own tribe, but they had the freedom not to. So, in what way was Hashem agreeing to the claim of the tribe of Menashe if the ruling had a built-in exemption for Tzlaphchad’s daughters that would have allowed the land to be passed to another tribe?

The Gemara calls these women wise and righteous. Their wisdom was shown by how and when they presented their request before Moshe Rabbeinu. Their righteousness, says the Gemara, was shown by them waiting to marry people who were appropriate for them even though all 5 of them were at least 40 years old. If a Bas Kol came out and proclaimed (so that we could hear it) who is the appropriate match for all current singles, the shidduch crisis could instantly end. Nevertheless, we wouldn’t praise individuals as being righteous for refraining from marrying for decades, waiting for such heavenly insight that might never come. So why are these women praised so for doing just that?

When Tzlaphchad’s daughters made their claim in last week’s parsha, they said that their father died of his own sin. This, too, highlighted their wisdom. If he was part of Korach’s rebellion, he would have been a rebel against the monarchy of Moshe and, as such, all of his property would have been forfeited. The Gemara asks what his sin that they were referring to was. Rabbi Akiva says that he was the Mekoshaysh Eitzim, the one who was mechalel Shabbas after the sin of the meraglim.

It seems to me that the stigma of their father being the 1st person in history to be mechalel Shabbas so publicly and wantonly prevented anyone suitable from wanting to marry them. Not until they came forth and presented their claim with respect, humility, and wisdom and received Divine praise for both their claim and the way in which they made it was that stigma removed. Now, they likely had many eligible suitors looking to marry such women of valor and profit from their additional portions of land in Eretz Yisroel. The Kli Yakar explains that one of the concerns of the tribal leaders of Menashe was that if someone from a different tribe became the owner of Tzlaphchad’s daughters’ land, it would look as though someone sold their inheritance, which would be an embarrassment to the tribe. However, this would be a concern only until Yovel would be established, as during Yovel, land that is sold returns to its original owner, while land that is inherited does not. Therefore, it would be clear how this land came into the hands of someone from a different tribe, and there would not be any shame to the tribe. This insight of the Kli Yakar explains why the ruling for an inheriting daughter to not be able to marry someone from a different tribe was only for that generation. It also explains why the tribal leaders of Menashe mentioned Yovel at all in their claim.

Their claim was valid. Indeed, Hashem agreed to their claim. The mitzvah was given for that generation that all other inheriting daughters would have to marry within their tribes, so as not to cause their land to transfer to a different tribe and cause embarrassment to their families. But not for the tribe of Menashe. They were complacent in allowing these girls, their nieces and cousins, to remain single for decades. They were not concerned then for the embarrassment of these daughters, and therefore no restrictions would be placed on these women now, even to protect the tribe’s honor.

Despite their freedom to marry whomever they wanted, the daughters of Tzlaphchad married within their tribe. Says the Seforno, we can see from the words of the pasuk, “Like Hashem commanded Moshe is how the daughters of Tzlaphchad acted”, that their sole motivation for marrying whom they did was to fulfill Hashem’s will. Even though they were not bound by this mitzvah, they recognized that it was the Ratzon Hashem and married their cousins. In fulfilling the Ratzon Hashem and putting aside any personal feelings of hurt or resentment towards their relatives, who should have helped them get married but instead left them alone and abandoned, the daughters of Tzlaphchad exhibited true righteousness.

While recounting the journeys of Klal Yisroel since leaving Mitzrayim, the pasuk repeats the details of Aharon hacohen’s petirah. Atypically, the date of his petirah, rosh chodesh Av, is mentioned explicitly in the pasuk. Clearly, it is not a coincidence that the man who personified the character trait of ohayv shalom v’rodayf shalom, loving peace and chasing peace, was removed from this world on the date that begins the intense mourning period over the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash, which was taken away as a result of sinas chinam, our lack of love and harmony with each other. This connection is not made in parshas Chukas, at the time of Aharon’s petirah, but rather it is mentioned here in parshas Mas’ei, which is always read within a few days of rosh chodesh Av, giving us a timely reminder of the cause of our continued galus.

The gemara lists 5 causes for mourning on Tisha b’Av and 6 causes for celebration on Tu b’Av. I believe that they correlate to each other. The 2 joyous occasions of the allowing of tribal intermarriage with inheriting daughters and the allowing of the other tribes to give their daughters to the remnants of Binyomin after the incident of the pilegesh b’Givah correspond to the destruction of the 2nd Beis Hamikdash. These 2 restrictions on tribal intermarriage would have resulted in artificial divisions between the tribes, a decrease of kinship, and a potential increase in sinas chinam, which ultimately is what destroyed the 2nd Beis Hamikdash. Even if this ban on marrying into a different tribe was necessary to protect the tribe’s honor, the abolishment of these separations, which could lead to sinas chinam, truly is a cause for great celebration. May we be zoche to see the Beis Hamikdash rebuilt bimhayra biyamaynu.

Fri, June 21 2024 15 Sivan 5784