Weekly Words of Torah goes PC (Parashah and Chesed) – Parashat Pinchas 5779

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

Our Torah reading this week, Parashat Pinchas, is named for the main character in the Torah reading this week, Pinchas, the son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, who is rewarded for killing people who cursed God. A census is once again taken, for the purpose of preparing for the war against the Midiantes. Machlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah, the daughters of Zelophechad, from the tribe of Menasheh, are faced with the dilemma of what will happen to their inheritance, since they had no brothers. Their inquiry spurs a change in the laws of property inheritance, to include daughters, and not just sons, in inheritance. Since Moses will not be leading the children of Israel into the Land of Israel, a successor needs to be chosen. Joshua ben Nun is chosen as Moses’ successor. The Torah reading concludes with a listing of the public sacrifices made on the holy days, which are read as the maftir (final Torah reading) portions on festivals, and Rosh Chodesh, the new moon. 

The daughters of Zelophechad paved the way for all women in the future. There are so many chesed ideas related to women’s rights, and helping women, which can be suggested as a tie-in to this week’s Torah reading, Parashat Pinchas. Here are five examples, one for each of Zelophechad’s daughters: 

1 – Continue Mathilde’s Mentionables, in your Sisterhood. For Mathilde’s Mentionables, in honor of our founder Mathilde Schechter, we have been collecting new and gently used undergarments for women in need. Delegates brought over 5,000 bras to our Convention in 2017! The project supplies bras to women in need, homeless women, women in shelters, etc. In cooperation with Support the Girls, through our donations of new and nearly new bras, we repair one of the tears in the world.

2 – Collect and donate unused makeup and perfume to donate to a battered women’s shelter.

3 – Collect personal hygiene products, and donate to a homeless shelter, or a battered women’s shelter.

4 – Collect handbags that you are no longer using, and randomly give them to people. If you live in an area where there is a homeless population, put something special in the handbag, like some perfume, a personal hygiene product, or some money. What one might not use is another’s treasure! 

5 – One of the greatest chesed we can give someone else is our ear.  Ask the women in your Sisterhood to share their story and something they are passionate about. Truly, the greatest chesed we can do for another is to say, I listened, and I heard you.

Weekly Words of Torah is a brief paragraph prepared weekly by our 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, and stay up-to-date with the latest WWOT theme, Chesed, here.