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Following my Wife's Lead

Friday, 10 July, 2020 - 6:25 am

Driving through Utah on a road trip, my wife keeps reminding me that she has got the view covered. I had better keep my eyes on the road. While I do most of the driving, she does most of the leading. It’s a lot easier to control a steering wheel than meals and squeals.

One of the mistakes of modern times is that we view the person at the helm as the true leader. If you are sitting up front, you must be the one in charge.

In this week’s parsha of Pinchas we are reminded that often it’s just the opposite.

As the Jews near the close of their forty-year journey, they are told about the inheritance of the land of Israel. Each household would receive one portion in the land. Although Jewish identity is determined by matrilineal descent, tribal identity is determined by patrilineal descent. That meant that only sons would receive an inheritance in the land. This way, the land would always remain within the tribe.

One man, Tzelafchad, passed away during the sojourn, leaving behind no sons. His four daughters came to Moshe with a complaint.  In this case, they argued, it simply isn’t fair that their father’s portion in the land should be lost due to the fact that he did not have male heirs.

Moshe consulted G-d.

The reply was straightforward. In the instance that there is no male heir, female heirs receive their father’s portion. (They were required to marry within their tribe in order to avoid losing the land from the tribal heritage).

The Lubavitcher Rebbe points out that this is yet another example of women’s leadership.

In that generation, the women repaired what the men broke down.

By the Sin of the Golden Calf, the men created the idol. The women refused.

Once again by the Sin of the Spies, who uttered an evil report about Israel, leading to a mass revolt. The women, however, did not participate.

And, here yet again, at the end of their journey, it was the women who resolutely demonstrated their love of G-d and His land.

The men had been unwilling to enter the land; the women petitioned to receive an inheritance in the land.

No wonder, Jewish identity is determined by the mother. They are the true leaders – the safeguards of Jewish continuity. That’s something we cannot afford to lose.

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