Thursday, July 12, 2007

Masei: Moshe Rabbenu's Beis Medrash

Torah Lo Bashamayim Hi? Is Torah not in Heaven, even in Moshe's lifetime?

In parshat Masei, the heads of Gilead complain that the law permitting daughters to inherit will permanently move land from one tribe to another, even come Yovel. In response, Moshe consults with Hashem and determines that the daughters of Tzelophchad, and any daughter that possesses an inheritance from one tribe should not marry into another tribe. Thus, the law is clarified and modified in response to a request and complaint.

Had they not come forward with this issue, it is quite possible that this law would not have come to to be, and thus the law is being created bottom up, rather than top down, with requests and suggestions from the populace, and Hashem's confirmation or resolution.

This is not the only time this happens. Indeed, the entire issue with land moving from one tribe to another came as a result of a reform requested by the daughters of Tzelophchad which allowed daughters to inherit in the absence of sons. Moshe consulted on this matter as well, and confirmed it.

It seems that people were able to lobby for their cause, or in the cause of fairness and equity, and it was considered. This is different from the Tanuch shel Achnai case. There, they decided the law based on argument and halachic principles, and voted, and Hashem's confirmation was not needed and was even discarded. Here, though, there are suggestions, which are confirmed or rejected by God.

There are other cases of such consultation as well:
  1. To reiterate, Tzelophchad's daughters
  2. and again to reiterate, the complaint of the heads of Gilead, but also
  3. the petition of the 2 1/2 tribes to settle in Ever haYarden, with the promise they would still lead into battle to capture Canaan
  4. Yisro's innovation of the court system, which was put forth to Hashem and approved
  5. and the statement therein that any difficult case, they should bring to Moshe, implying that other cases existed in which they consulted and Moshe consulted with Hashem
  6. the collector of twigs on Shabbos, whom they locked up and then consulted Hashem for his fate
  7. the blasphemer, whom they locked up and then consulted Hashem for his fate
  8. and after whom are laws which include the stranger being treated the same as the regular-born Israelite, perhaps in partial response
  9. Perhaps the double-portion of manna and the command not to go out.
Note how the heads of Gilead note how even when it interacts with Yovel, it will be to no avail to return the property. Perhaps as new questions were asked and new laws introduced, or even as new laws were introduced regularly over the course of the stay in the wilderness, interactions between laws already on the books and new laws came up, and required clarification. These may have been asked explicitly, have come up in court cases, or have been intuited. Thus, a law of a servant working forever after getting his ear pierced may have initially meant "forever," but once the concept of Yovel is introduced, the relation of the slave to this could have been raised, with a clarification that he goes free on Yovel. And we see how earlier law can even be overturned in the face of a complaint (e.g. to whom the inheritance goes to when there are only daughters). Even though other parshiyot are not mentioned explicitly as case law, case law they very well might be.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The answer to the problem you're talking about can be simple: In the Tanach time, HaShem is confirming or rejecting everything. This is because Moses and the priests that were in these times had a strong connection to HaShem and he could tell them what to do.
After that and until our days, "the prophecy is given to fools" so we have to decide on our own, with the tools (and brain) that we got.

Shabat Shalom.


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