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Dvar for Pinchas (Numbers 25:10-30:1)

Nestled within the latest census is an obscure mention, “and the name of Asher’s daughter was Serach” (26:46). Rashi points out that she was one of the original seventy that entered Egypt, so she is mentioned here as having survived two hundred and ten years in Egypt and forty years in the desert. Although surviving all those years is quite an accomplishment, why does the Torah mention it here in the middle of a census? Perhaps more importantly, how did Serach survive all this time? What is her secret?

Ramban and other commentaries suggest that the Torah mentions unique situations, such as the daughters of Tzlofchod who, having had no males to claim an inheritance, requested their father’s portion of land in Israel. What makes Serach unique is two things: 1) She was born to Asher’s wife from a different husband, and 2) although her name was Serach, she was known as “the daughter of Asher,” known for her pious and kind ways (Chizkuni). This highlights how far having a name associated with kindness can take us. As the “and” that begins our sentence emphasizes, we are more than just names and numbers in history books, but a collection of the actions and specifically acts (of kindness) that define us.