Tag Archives: Nitsana Darshan- Leitner

Zelophehad’s Daughters- (or Stand Up For Your Rights)

P1130436art by Laya Crust

Pinchas:  Numbers  25: 10 – 30: 1

This week’s Torah reading, Pinchas, deals with the division and inheritance of land. The land is to be divided based on tribal size. The patriarch of each family within each tribe will be assigned a parcel of land. When this is announced five remarkable young women, the daughters of Zelophehad, approach Moshe to ask for their late father’s portion of land. Their argument is that just because their father had no sons it is unjust that the father’s name and legacy should disappear.

Zelophehad’s daughters, Mahla, Noa, Hogla, Milca and Tirza speak to Moshe at the entrance of the “Tent of Meetings” a most public place. The priests, the assembly and the public can witness the events. The five sisters present the case with a solution within their opening statements. They speak of loyalty to family and perpetuating their father’s name rather than referring to their personal stake.

Moshe is unsure of what he should do and what ruling to make. He turns directly to Gd. Gd unequivocally supports the young women’s proposal saying, “The plea of Zelophehad’s daughters is just”. Gd then immediately announces new laws governing inheritance, and including daughters. It is a wonderful testament to the Jewish attribute of considering a situation and coming up with a just solution.

Samaria Ostraca- 8th B.C.E. pottery shards with  Noa and Hogla  as town names

Mahla, Noa, Hogla, Milca and Tirza teach us that when we see an injustice we must represent ourselves favourably. By seeking justice respectfully and not giving up, positive change can occur. These five sisters worked together to present a strong front. Their actions were  important enough to merit their names being mentioned four times in the Bible: Numbers 26:33, 27:1 , 36: 11, Joshua 17:3.

 If you suffer an unfair occurrence consider a good solution, present it, and stand up for your rights!      (Just take a look at what Nitsana Darshan- Leitner is achieving through Shurat haDIn!    http://israellawcenter.org/   )

Have a just and rewarding week, Laya


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Chayei Sarah- this land is our land

chayei sarah0040Chayeih Sarah

Bereshit 23 – 25: 18

Haftarah- I Kings 1: 1-31

This week’s parsha begins with the news that Sara Imeinu (our matriarch) has died in Qiryat Arba at the age of 127. Abraham came to mourn and weep for her and to find a fitting burial place for his beloved wife.  He insisted on paying for the cave of Machpela even though it had been offered to him as a gift.  The text reads, “And the field of Efron, which was in Machpela,which was before Mamre, the field, and the cave which was in it,  and all the trees that were in the field, that were in all the borders round about, were made over to Avraham for a possession in the presence of the children of Chet,…before Mamre: the same is Hevron in the land of Canaan.” ( Ch. 23 v 17 -19)

Avraham paid full price for this small piece of property, also known as Hebron, in front of witnesses so that there would never be a question of ownership.

The Cave of Machpelah - Vincent van Gogh

              The cave of Machpela by Vincent Van Gogh
These days Israel is constantly on my mind. The situation is tragic. The loss of innocent life, the fear, the rioting in Israeli streets and shelling of Israeli homes and communities is horrifying. Many so-called intellectuals and human rights activists question the right of Israelis and Jews to live in Israel which is historic Canaan with a modern name. The fact is that we Jews have lived in that land longer than any other people.  Jews have owned and lived in the land- Canaan, Palestine, the Turkish Empire, Israel- call it what you will-ever since Abraham bought and owned that parcel 5,000 years ago.
At the end of this week’s reading Abraham died and his two sons- Isaac and Ishmael-came together as brothers to bury their father. The two men mourned together. Isaac and Ishmael buried their father in the cave of Machpela, where Sara his wife had been buried. The two brothers met in peace and acted cooperatively. They recognized and remembered that the land belonged to Abraham, and we have to remember that too.

Over the past week there have been outstanding speeches in Toronto by  Melanie Phillips ( journalist),  Nitsana Darshan-Leitner (lawyer), and Caroline Glick (activist). All three women reminded their audiences that the Jews owned Israel before 1967, before 1948, before the Balfour Declaration, and before the Zionist movement under Herzl. We owned the land all the way back to the time of Abraham. We must remember that and not be apologetic or embarrassed.  I pray that we will see peace and cooperation in Israel very soon.


Shabbat Shalom,   Laya


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