Parshat Masei 5782: Possessing Eretz Yisrael and B’not Tzelaphchad

Shalom Friends;

Our Parshat HaShevua,Masei is being co-sponsored by Reuven and Leah Goldman, Rabbi Ari and Rebbetzin Shayna Enkin dedicated in honor of our children and granddaughter and Moshe and Rachel Lichtenstein dedicated as a bracha for the continued health and success of Safta and Saba Yehuda and Miriam Stebbins, Rachel and Moshe and the whole family, all co-sponsors from Ramat Beit Shemesh. To the Goldman, Enkin and Lichtenstein families, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.

Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt

Parshat Masei 5782: Possessing Eretz Yisrael and B’not Tzelaphchad

by Moshe Burt

Although Parshiyot Matos-Masei are twinned in most years, this year, the section of Parshat Masei regarding preparing and settling Eretz Yisrael speaks most loudly to this author in light of current events over the past year or so..

Parsha Masei teaches us that “Hashem spoke to Moshe… by the Jordan, at Yericho” telling him to speak to the B’nei Yisrael and tell them (Artscroll Stone Chumash, Sefer Bamidbar, Peek 33, p’sukim 51-56, pages 922-923);

“When you cross the Jordan to the land of Canaan, you shall drive out all of the inhabitants of the Land before you; and you shall destroy all their prostration stones; all of their molten images…. You shall possess the Land as an inheritance by lot to your families…. But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the Land before you, those of them whom you leave shall be pins in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they will harass you upon the Land in which you dwell. And it shall be that what I had meant to do to them, I shall do to you. ” (Rendered to English in the Artscroll Stone Chumash, Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 33, p’sukim 51-56, pages 922-923)

Rabbi Artscroll (Artscroll Stone Chumash, page 923) then cites the Rashbam and follows with it’s own commentary;

… If they fail to do so, they will suffer the fate Hashem had intended to impose upon the Canaanites, and be driven out.

Only in the perspective of Hashem’s wisdom can this passage be understood. No human ruler has the right to decree that an entire population is to be… exiled, but Hashem revealed that the Canaanite presence was incompatible with both the Land’s holiness and Israel’s mission on earth. History is the most conclusive proof of this, for the fact was that the Jews could not bring themselves to eliminate all of the Canaanites, with the result that the Jews were drawn to idolatry, debauchery, and were in turn periodically oppressed and finally exiled.

R’ Shimson Rafael Hirsch z”l provides additional enlightenment on the above-mentioned posukim the new Hirsch Chumash (published by Feldheim in 2005 and translated to English by Rabbi Daniel Haberman) which hold important lessons not heeded by contemporary Israeli governance, institutions and political entities (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 33, p’sukim 51-56, pages 666-667):

On posuk 53: You must first make the Land fit to be your yerusha [inheritance] by removing all traces of polytheism, and only then will you be able to settle in it.You are not inheriting the Land by your own power and might; rather, Hashem’s will and Hashem’s power are giving you the Land. So, too, the division of the Land shall not be done according to arbitrary norms, but according to Hashem’s instruction and decision. Hence, you will not be able to avoid fulfilling the first basic condition on which Hashem makes the [this] gift of the Land dependent.

On posuk 55: …Apparently, …the meaning here: If you allow the pagan inhabitants to remain in the Land, they will become a hedge [a guard, a protection] around their pagan practices; the nature of these practices will be concealed from your perception and insight, and you will not find fault with them. Tolerance toward the pagan inhabitants will beget tolerance toward paganism. If you tolerate paganism and find justification for it within Hashem’s Land, you will cease to belong to Hashem alone, and… you will be deprived of your right to exist in the Land, and you will not be worthy of protection…. When Hashem removes His protection of you…, those toward whom you have been so tolerant will become your enemies and will oppress you in your own land.

On posuk 56: In the end, you will not be worthy of Hashem’s Land, and Hashem will expel you… as He had intended to expel the nations through you.

These posukim literally scream out from our Torah to this very generation!

Paradigm for the strength and passion with which we need to be connected to OUR Eretz Yisrael are the B’not Tzelaphchad, for Tzelaphchad bore no sons to inherit his portion of Eretz Yisrael.

Excerpts from Rabbi Shmuel Goldin’s Parsha Summaries for Parshat Pinchas and Parshat Masei regarding the B’not Tzelaphchad (“Unlocking the Torah Text,” Sefer Bamidbar, pages 253 and 276):

The four daughters of Tzelaphchad approach Moshe protesting the fact that, because their father “died for his own sin in the wilderness” without leaving sons, their family would not receive its rightful land portion. When Moshe seeks Divine counsel, Hashem informs him that the daughters of Tzelaphchad are justified in their claims. In the absence of sons, daughters will inherit their family’s land. (ibid, Parshat Pinchas, page 253)

The Sefer Bamidbar closes as Hashem, responding to the concern of the elders of Shevet Menashe (the tribe to which the daughters of Tzelaphchad belong), mandates that a woman who inherits land from her father must marry within her tribe. (Rabbi Goldin cites Talmud Bavli Bava Batra 120a which explains that this limitation only applies to the generation that entered Eretz Yisrael) This edict balances a daughter’s right of inheritance with the rights of a tribe to retain it’s land allotment. (ibid, Parshat Masei, page 276)

The Artscroll Stone Chumash notes:

Since the daughters of Tzelaphchad would receive the portion of the land destined for their late father, and their heirs would be their future husbands or sons, the province of Menashe would be diminished if any of the five daughters were to marry outside of the tribe. This was not a theoretical problem, because these women were righteous and wise (Artscroll Stone Chumash citing Bava Batra 120a), so it was natural that they were sought as mates by men from all the tribes. (Artscroll Stone Chumash citing Tzror HaMor) But if they were to marry outside of their tribe, the Divinely inspired apportionment of land would be corrupted, because part of the province of Menashe would pass to another tribe. (The Artscroll Stone Chumash citing Sforno)

Notes on Rashi, in “The Sapirstein Edition: Torah with Rashi’s Commentary,” (Sefer Bamidbar, pages 432-433):

The verse seems to say that the Jubilee year will cause the inheritance of the daughters of Tzelaphchad to be transferred to the tribes of their husbands. But we do not find any such transfer among the laws of the Jubilee year. Rather, the verse means that the Jubilee year will not stop the land from remaining in the hands of the tribes of their husbands, to whom it has already been transferred by virtue of the sons; it will not cause the land to revert to the daughters of Tzelaphchad and their tribe as it would had they sold it. (citing Be’er Mayim Chaim; Be’er Yitzchak)

[Rashi on Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 36, posuk 8; “Every daughter from among the tribes of Israel shall inherit an inheritance…”] The verse would have been making a general statement about all daughters. Rashi explains… It is understood “every daughter who inherits,” refers only to daughters whose fathers had no sons.

Have the generations of the seventy-four years since modern-day Israeli statehood not heard this scream, have they not picked up on the lesson of our Parshat Masei? Think about it! We backed off during the Six-Day War when we had the opportunity to liberate Har HaBayit, relinquishing it to Jordanian Wakf authority. When we had the opportunity to eradicate the PLO, we let Arafat and his band of terrorists escape. We failed to put down and destroy the so-called “intifadas” of the 1980s and early 1990s. We let the politicians make Oslo, then gave away 80% of Hevron and then expel Jews from Gush Katif in Gaza — despite a people’s referendum vote against such expulsion. So we had suicide terror blowing up buses, Sbarros, bulldozer terror attacks, attacks on Shuls and Talmidei Chachamim and much more. We depend on Arab labor to build our buildings so that the Kablanim rake in excessive profits, while denying Jews training in construction fields, jobs and competitive wages, not to mention families being unable to find affordable housing in Israel’s major cities..

“Pins in your eyes and thorns in your sides” — Traveling in Yehuda and the Shomron nowadays is with trepidation, due our governmental vacillation [noun: a state of indecision or irresolution] which has caused the gradual loss of fear of us and loss of our deterrent credibility on the part of our enemies, where once, one could drive through Yesha casually with an Israeli flag attached to the radio antenna and an elbow out the window (attributed to “Where There Are No Men, Be a Man,” by Moshe Feiglin). Now, riots and terror in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Lod, Ramla, Beer Sheva, Elad, etc. as well as sporadic rockets launched at us from Gaza and from Lebanon.

After last year’s iteration of the War in Gaza with close to 4,500 rockets launched from Gaza, not only at towns and cities bordering Gaza, but at Central Israel as well, we set a catastrophic precedent to accept into a governing “coalition” an Arab party with ties to the “Moslem Brotherhood” and run to start talks with terrorists about a “two-state solution .”

As this author concluded last year’s vort, Shabbos is meant for simcha, for wine, challah, dagim and bassar (fish, meat), for learning, for z’miros, for family, friends, Hachasat Orchim, for rest from the affairs of the week. Shabbos is meant to commune spiritually with HaKodosh Borchu. But we can’t deny that we are in perilous times — Am Yisrael led by a coalition of defeatist politicians who bow before an alien enemy’s political vetoes and who think they are almighty, with concern ONLY for the perpetuation of their power, with nary a word about The Holy One Above, Blessed be He. This author has to tell it as he sees it.

May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them, that the thrice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes and the oft-destroyed Yeshiva buildings in Homesh be rebuilt, all at total government expense; due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. Baruch Hashem that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard is now free of his parole and restrictions and that he is now in his second year at home in Eretz Yisrael. May Esther Yocheved bat Yechiel Avraham have an aliyah in Shemayim and may her memory continue to lift Jonathan to at least 120 years. May the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem — as with the return in April, 2019, via Russia, of the remains of Zachariah Baumel, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of seven years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and prevent Chas V’Challila the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. And may we soon and finally see the total end to the Communist Chinese corona virus pandemic and all like viruses. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nei Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Chodesh Tov and Good Shabbos!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.