Blog Single Post

Dvar for Matot-Maasei (Numbers 30:2-36:13)

The elders of Tzlofchok’s tribe raised a concern that if the women married someone from another tribe, their inheritance would flow to the male heritage, and their tribe would lose that land (36:3-4). G-d’s response to them is, “Let them marry whomever they please, but they shall marry only to the family of their father’s tribe” (36:6). The Gemara (Baba Batra 120) wonders how those two statements make sense. Can they marry as they please, or can they marry only within their tribe? The Gemara answers that the second statement was just a suggestion. And if it was merely a suggestion, why does the Torah later say that Tzlofchok’s daughters did as they were commanded (36:10)?

Rav Shimon Schwab proposes that although marrying within the tribe was only a suggestion, Tzlofchok’s daughters viewed it as a commandment and acted on it. Many commandments in the Torah can be circumvented, but there is boundless beauty in carrying out the commandments rather than sidestepping opportunities to serve G-d and therefore forfeiting the potential for growth. This episode is a fitting bookend to Sefer Devarim, which enlists us to find ways to participate in and connect with the Torah.