Parshah Pinchas – Lamah YiGara


The daughters of Zelophehad the son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, of the families of Manasseh the son of Joseph, came forward, and his daughters’ names were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. They stood before Moses and before Eleazar the kohen and before the chieftains and the entire congregation at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, saying, “Our father died in the desert, but he was not in the assembly that banded together against the Lord in Korah’s assembly, but he died for his own sin, and he had no sons. Why should our father’s name be eliminated from his family because he had no son? Give us a portion along with our father’s brothers. ” So Moses brought their case before the L-RD.”

‘lamah yigara’ – literally, why should it be omitted – why indeed?

The Daughters of Zelophechad went before Moshe and the Entire Congregation:

“They not only come forth, but also they speak with determination: “Our father died in the wilderness. He was not one of the faction, Korah’s faction, which banded together against G-D but died for his own sin; and he has left no sons. Let not our father’s name be lost to his clan just because he had no son! Give us a holding among our father’s kinsmen!” ” (B’midbar Numbers 27:3-4).

Korach’s faction banded together against G-D arguing (and excluding G-D from the picture) that “you have not brought us to a land flowing with milk and honey” (B’midbar 16.14) while Zelophechad, (TOGETHER with the entire congregation) merely was ignorant of the penalty for violating the Sabbath (it was not told what should be done to him B’midbar 15.34).

“Why should our father’s name be ostracized from his family because he had no son?”

How is it that The Daughters of Zelophechad went from mentioning “he died for his own sin (gathering sticks on the Sabbath) [and as such] he had no sons (plural);” to framing the case as a question of inheritance – “because he had no son (singular)?”

Doesn’t the issue of being “a Sabbath breaker” beg the question as to why they eliminated the matter of being a Sabbath breaker and framed the case as one concerning tribal – family inheritance?!

And where did they learn to make a pointed statement?

The Torah tells us they said, “Lamah Yigara shem avinu ….”  “Why should our father’s name be ostracized (estranged, omitted) ?”

לָ֣מָּה יִגָּרַ֤ע שֵֽׁם־אָבִ֨ינוּ֙ מִתּ֣וֹךְ מִשְׁפַּחְתּ֔וֹ כִּ֛י אֵ֥ין ל֖וֹ בֵּ֑ן תְּנָה־לָּ֣נוּ אֲחֻזָּ֔ה בְּת֖וֹךְ אֲחֵ֥י אָבִֽינוּ:

I surmise that they learned to make a pointed statement because of the statement made by those defiled by the dead (Zelophechad) who could not observe the Passover due to ritual defilement (corpse tumah) who said, “Lamah Nigara….” “Why should we be kept back from offering the L-RD’S Korban Pesach from amongst the Children of Yisrael?” B’midbar 9.7

לָמָּה נִגָּרַע, לְבִלְתִּי הַקְרִיב אֶת-קָרְבַּן יְהוָה בְּמֹעֲדוֹ, בְּתוֹךְ, בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל.

Both express an impediment to enjoyment of a mitzvah – one with a future tense (Lamah Yigara) related to being excluded from an inheritance of the land and one with a past tense (Lamah Nigara) related to exclusion from a national commemorative festival, Pesach (Passover).

“While the Sifrei and many mefarshim emphasize that Pesach Sheni was always anticipated as an integral component of the commemoration of Yetziat Mitzrayim, they credit the group’s initiative by characterizing their role as “megalgelin zechut al yedei zakai“. Why did this outcry, particularly if it did not constitute either a request-demand or complaint-argument, resonate so powerfully? Surely there must have been other queries, complaints, or efforts to expand religious commitment and fulfillment, particularly when halachic standards militated against universal participation in treasured mitzvot. The omission or obfuscation of specific proposals or arguments, according to the mefarshim that project these, implies that the depth of anguish and the impassioned presentation was more compelling than the force of any specific argument.”



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