By: Rabbi Loren Sykes Director of Israel Immersives
This week’s Torah portion in Israel, Parshat Pinhas, is chock full of interesting issues ranging from the Jewish calendar to the extremism, from explanations about why the Levites do not get a land inheritance at all to the orderly transition of power from Moses to Joshua. The division and creation of tribal and familial regions and inheritances is the focus of the middle of the Parashat Pinhas.
A fascinating discussion ensues when the daughters of Zelophchad from the Tribe of Menashe approach Moses with a complaint. Because Zelophchad did not have any sons who would inherit from him, he was not allotted a portion in the Land of Israel. Zelophchad’s daughters approach Moses and challenge the decision. Moses shares the story with God and God replies that the daughters of Zelphchad are right and should be given a landed inheritance among the other families of the Tribe of Menashe. While not a complete victory for equality in modern terms, the ruling is clearly progressive for its time!
The issue of who is entitled to an inheritance in Israel is not just an ancient one but is relevant to our time, as well. It raises several important questions:
Do you only get an inheritance if you choose to make your home and the center of your life in Israel?
If you do not live here, do you have a voice and a vote regarding what happens here? Only a voice? Neither?
Are you only entitled to the full inheritance if you live Jewishly according to a specific approach to Jewish law?
Is your inheritance dependent upon a certain specific Zionist perspective?
The Jewish People, Am Yisrael, struggled with these questions from a theoretical perspective for over two thousand years. From whom gets to decide who is Jewish to who gets to perform marriages to who gets to make Jewish law for the Western Wall, the questions of ownership, power, and inheritance, are practical ones for which we seek answers daily.
As your teen travels the Land, meets the People, and increases their understanding of the modern State, they are acquiring their inheritance, their portion in Israel. Adventures 1 and 2 are wrapping up their explorations this weekend. Adventures 3 and 4, Sci-Tech, and Adventure 6 still have plenty of exploring to do. This coming week, they may:
Meet Israeli teens who join our Kishre Noar program.
Go rafting in the Jordan River.
Visit the Israeli-Arab town of Ein Rafa and meet our friend, Musa and Yasmin and their kids.
See the security barrier and talk about the pros and cons of this sensitive structure.
Hike the Arbel.
All of this is part of the process of developing a deep connection with this incredible place.
Soon enough, you will hear your teen’s stories about their adventures, what this country means to them, and how they want to stay connected in the future. These are just a few of the blessings they get as part of creating their Israeli inheritance.