Friday, July 18, 2008

Where Oh Where Has My Little Girl Gone?

Since I am still basically voice-less (I have a followup appointment in 2 weeks with the ENT, who prescribed an outrageously expensive spray that I'm supposed to use twice daily for a month), I figured I had better type down a Torah thought so that my DH can read it at the Shabbos table tonight. It'll just be one though (really, I promise), since we had a crazy late night and I have to start cleaning the house.

It struck me that Tzelafchad's daughters provide outright evidence that women have rights according to Torah law, albeit not evidence in the way that one might expect. Rather, we see that daughters are entitled to property in the event that a father has beget no sons. Now, that's discrimination, some might say. However, when one looks at the underlying "logic" of this legal detail, we see that in fact this detail is most fair and that some might protest that the detail discriminates in favour of women.

In brief, the reason for distributing property is to keep that property within the family. Now, we will recall that women leave their own families to become part of their husband's family upon marriage. Therefore, for women to receive a portion despite the fact that they will become part of a different family later in life seems to be preferential to women. We note that when Hashem deems the claim of Tzelafchad's daughters valid, He instructs them to marry men from their tribe. The hope is to always keep property within family then, and the reason why the exception is made on the part of women is because Hashem, in His Compassion, felt that daughters should be entitled property to reward them for their devotion to their birth family. In other words, prior to marriage, women contributed with their labour towards the household. If there are no sons then, the bond with and role of the daughters to their father must be acknowledged.

We see therefore that Hashem, in His Infinite Wisdom, did not discriminate against women materially and indeed chose to reward them for their emotional and physical connection to their father. To do otherwise would deny their relationship with that parent and would be a grave injustice. As we know, Hashem is Himself a most Compassionate and Just Father, and could therefore only inbue Torah Law with those attributes.

Good Shabbos.

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