WWOT – Weekly Words of Torah: Parashat Matot-Maasei

To inspire, guide, engage, enrich, and empower Conservative Jewish Women
By Rabbi Ellen S. Wolintz-Fields, Executive Director, Women’s League For Conservative Judaism

This week, we finish Bamidbar, the book of Numbers, with the double portion of Parashat Matot-Maasei, which tells the story of the five daughters of Tzelophechad, who had no brothers. When they asked Moses who would inherit their father’s land, he ruled that daughters may inherit in the absence of sons. The leaders of Tzelophechad’s clan were not happy about that ruling, for if the women were to marry outside of their tribe, their land would pass to their husbands. Moses further ruled that God does find the relatives’ complaints justified, and so rules that the daughters should marry within their tribe. In this week’s Torah reading, the daughters marry their cousins on their father’s side.

I have always loved this story, because I could relate to the situation, since I had only a sister. Additionally, the daughters of Tzelophechad taught us an important lesson about voicing our opinion — when the timing is right, we must speak up and make others aware of the fact that women’s inheritance is important, and legitimate. The daughters stepped forward to transform the Torah for women for future generations. This took courage on their part, and also loyalty to the tradition that they wanted to uphold. Our women in Women’s League for Conservative Judaism are just like the daughters of Tzelophechad, transforming Judaism for future generations, because of our love of, and loyalty to, our Jewish tradition.

WWOT, Weekly Words of Torah will be a brief paragraph prepared weekly by our new Executive Director, Rabbi Ellen S. Wolintz-Fields, presented in our “This Week @ Women’s League.” WWOT will provide meaningful thoughts related to the Weekly Torah Portion, an event on the Calendar, a Prayer, or something of Jewish interest, to inspire, guide, engage, enrich, and empower Conservative Jewish Women. If you have any particular interest in future topics, or want to send Rabbi Wolintz-Fields an email, you can contact her at ewolintz-fields@wlcj.org. Read previous Weekly Words of Torah here.