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We are at war!

Wednesday, 9 July, 2014 - 10:29 pm

1.            Currently, there is a war going on in the holy land of Israel; our brothers and sisters are under attack.
2.            A man gathers wood on the Shabbat, desecrating it, and is consequently put to death (Numbers Ch. 15).
3.            A father has passed away and left daughters and no sons. The daughters lobbied to receive his portion in the Land of Israel (Numbers Ch. 27).
4.             The masculine nature is to conquer, subjugate or overcome (Talmud Yevamot folio 65).

The Torah tells us: “The daughters of Tzelafchad … stood before Moses … saying; our father died in the desert … and he had no sons … Give us a portion along with our father’s brothers.”

Moses brought their case before G‑d. G‑d responds to Moses saying: “Tzelafchad’s daughters speak justly. You shall certainly give them a portion of inheritance…” G-d then established the law for all time by continuing: ”speak to the children of Israel saying: If a man dies and has no son, you shall transfer his inheritance to his daughter” (Numbers 27:1–8).

Who was Tzelafchad? According to some opinions, he was the man who gathered the wood (mentioned above #2). Why did he desecrate the Shabbat publicly? If desecrating the Shabbat could cause him to be put to death, this would impress the importance of scrupulous Shabbat observance on his fellow Jews.

Like their father who taught us the importance of Shabbat, the daughters of Tzelafchad showed us the significance of the land of Israel.

Generally, it was the men who fought to conquer the land and they were the ones to inherit it. Today, we are also trying to conquer the world; to win “the war of ideas”. Our commander in chief, namely G-d, has entrusted us with the mission to elevate the world to recognize that true humanity is when we see our fellow as permeated and illuminated by the Divine image.  The daughters of Tzelafchad made clear that this is not only a male centric mission but it is one that all can be part of in each their own way. (See long article here)

This connects to the first thing on everyone’s minds these days: our brethren in Israel.  Israel does not want to fight a war. They do not want lives lost. What Israel wants is to “elevate the world to recognize that true humanity is when we see our fellow as permeated and illuminated by the Divine image”.

To paraphrase Prime Minister Netanyahu “And that is the difference between us and our neighbors; they do not consider humanity as permeated with divinity so they make murderers into heroes. We don’t! We consider the human to be created in the Divine image therefore we condemn murderers and put them on trial and imprison them.”

Tzelafchad put his life on the line for his fellow man, his daughters challenged authority to teach us the laws of inheritance, the IDF is doing whatever they can to keep Israel safe from barbaric terrorists and we need to uplift ourselves and our world to the service of true humanity, so that that every human is permeated and illuminated by the divine image.

Have a divine Shabbos,


Rabbi Kushi Schusterman 

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