Adapted from MetaParshyot 5755 by R David Wolfe-Blank and Living Torah by R Aryeh Kaplan

Daughters of Tzelaph’had by Yael Harris



This is the finale of the story that began at the end of Balak. It involves conflicts that came about when the people started to act immorally with Moabite girls. They were drawn in and worshiped their god, Ba’al Peor. Pinhas acted as a vigilante. He killed a Yisrael man and a Midianite woman who set up a sex shrine in the inner chamber of the Ohel Moed (Communion tent). The ancient Jews were concerned that public sex would undermine their culture as it spread amongst the community. This Torah portion begins with the reward offered to Pinchas, the “Brit Shalom,” Covenant of Peace.


The Midianites were perceived as a hostile enemy because they purposefully created conflicts around public sexuality. This plagued the Yisrael camp. Though the Moabites seduced the Yisrael people, the Midianites were held responsible. It was thought to have been their idea that the Moabites facilitated. The Torah portion continues by telling of the war against the Midianites.


The Torah portion continues with a second census, and the division of the land of Yisrael to the tribes.


The daughters of Tzelaoph’had petitioned for the right to inherit land. Their father had died, and they had no sons. Moshe thinks the idea may be too radical for the society around 1400 BCE and consults with The Holy One of Blessing. The Holy One agrees that the inheritance should go to the women.

Later, in the upcoming Torah portion of Mattot, we learn that the daughters of Tzelaph’had would inherit the land on one condition: marry within their tribe. That way, the land given to their father would stay within the tribe. It is an early step towards agency for women, unheard of at that time and not perfect.

The holiday Tu B’Av is celebrated on the full moon of Av. It was designated as the single day of the year tribes were permitted to intermarry. Today, it is recognized as a Jewish day for matchmaking and love.

Yehoshua is designated as the next leader of the Yisrael tribes.

The Holy days are reviewed.


It is hot in the local cosmos, the Northern hemisphere. Moisture evaporates. People get tired and sometimes cranky. It is essential to pace ourselves this time of year. Remember not to take things personally. The heat is on for everyone (in the Northern Hemisphere).

The start of Summer is initiated with the longest day of the year. Temperatures continue to rise now as the days get shorter. Intensity increases and patience is short. Tempers may flare. Pinhas’s extreme action is in line with the intensity of the season. The shortening days generate more force and heat, as it were.

This is the first Shabbat in three weeks that mark the initiation of Yerushalayim’s siege and ended with the destruction of the Temple. These three weeks are followed by seven weeks of comfort and consolation.

The energetic structure of this period has a lot of information within it. Let’s use the Etz Hayyim (Tree of Life) as a model: The three weeks relate to the upper three S’firot Keter (Crown), Hokhmah (Divine Wisdom), and Binah (Divine Understanding); and represent a shifting of consciousness realigning thoughts. You can do this by journaling, through art, or by creating a focus board reflecting your intention for the upcoming year or something else.

The following seven weeks are the seven weeks of consolation. It is helpful to reference the secret of seven when moving through these weeks. Each week carries a specific focus; 1) Hesed (Lovingkindness), 2) G’vurah (Boundaries and Discipline), 3) Tiferet (Beauty, Balance), 4) Netzah (Tenacity), 5) Hod (Glory, Humility), 6) Yesod (Intimacy), and 7) Sh’khinah (Sovereignty). The lower seven S’firot relate to the emotion and physical plane. These seven weeks are an opportunity to align feelings and action with the new awareness cultivated.



According to a midrash, Pinhas was an incarnation of Eliyahu (the prophet). This is an odd statement because Eliyahu was born several hundred years later than Pinchas. It seems that the midrash should have said Eliyahu was an incarnation of Pinchas. Saying that Pinchas was Eliyahu, the Midrash suggests that the soul that first inhabited Pinhas was re-incarnated in its most valid form hundreds of years later.

This means that your whole life might be an incarnation of something which reaches its highest manifestation in a later lifetime. This life might be a rehearsal or refining step for a future person. Perhaps the soul inhabiting this era is here to prepare the way for later development of yourself. Later they’ll say about you, she/he/they was/were this later person, on an early run-through.


Behold I give to him a covenant of peace`

Numbers 25:12

After his zealotry, the holy one of blessing gave Pinhas peace as a gift. It appears that the verse hints to us that the way of peace is always better and more effective than the way of zealotry and war. (from R B Y Natan in Torah Gems)

Shalom contains the three letters shin lamed mem, which is the root for Shalem, which translates as fullness completeness; L’shalem is to pay back. Where there is fullness (nothing lacking), peace follows.


Yesod relates to intimacy and connection. It needs a good guide and gateway to ensure that not just anyone or anything may enter Yesod’s openness and intimacy. At this stage of the S’firah process, the work establishing characteristics is primarily complete. This process has been ongoing since Braysheet when we started with Hesed in Hesed. Many steps have been taken. They are filled with intention, commitment, and work required to come this far. Yesod is valuable. Entry into Yesod is a privilege.

One aspect of Yesod is sacred sexuality. G’vurah serves the purpose of keeping Yesod, the treasure, under careful protection. There are nourishing and vital methods to couple to bring about holy fruit; the next generation and the intimate experience.

“Shadai, the Divine name on the mezuzah, is associated with G’vurah of Yesod (Boundaries in Intimacy). A mezuzah reminds us that our homes are holy. “Shadai,” says, “Dai!”, Enough and sets a boundary.  Pinhas’s soul must be connected from G’vurah of Yesod. He wanted to ensure that one ill-advised choice would not dissipate all the momentum and potency building up during the past 40+ years. Pinhas set a boundary to protect future generations. G’vurah in Yesod.

Establishing a due process for the parsing out the land and the institution leadership of Yehoshua to replace Moshe all have to do with controlling the flow and carefully guarding the inheritance for the next generation of this Divine enterprise.  This, too, resonates with G’vurah in Yesod.

Tmimah Audrey ickovits

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