Pinchas: The Jewish Woman

June 29, 2023

Intuition, devotion, and influence: the three defining feminine characteristics that are so important in our lives.

(משיחת יום ה’ פ’ פינחס, י”ב תמוז ה’תשי”ז)

A. Your Wife is Always Right

In this week’s Torah reading, we study the story of the daughters of Tzelafchad, who asked to receive their family’s land in Israel (Source 1). The midrash analyzes this story in an original fashion: women preserve what men destroy. The men donated gold toward the golden calf; the women refused to. The men didn’t want to go to Israel, the women did – and fought for their land in Israel (Source 2).

This expresses the deep love the women had for the land of Israel.

When the Torah was given, Moses first addressed the women, and only afterward the men (Source 3). When the mishkan was built, it was the women who donated first (Source 4).

The Rebbe explains that these three incidents are really parts of one larger picture. 1. The giving of the Torah is emblematic of creation itself. 2. Entering Israel represents the purpose of creation – infusing the material world with sanctity. 3. The mishkan symbolizes the connection between the spiritual and the material. In all of these cases, the women acted appropriately,  demonstrating the power of the female intuition.

B. Ready to Pay a Price

In the desert, household chores such cooking, laundry, and ironing were done miraculously, but in Israel it would become the women’s responsibility. In light of that, it would have made sense for the women to object to going to Israel. However, we see that the women didn’t think so and continued to wish to go to Israel right away. 

Joke: Two weeks before Passover?

C. Affecting the Entire Family

“G-d’s eyes are always upon the land,” the Torah says about Israel. In the spiritual dimension, Israel means behaving like G-d is watching us every moment, and as a result, we make our environments holy (as the kabbalah teaches, our thoughts fill the four cubits around us [Source 5]). The same way the women excelled in their affection for Israel, they should also excel in creating Israel on the spiritual plane. Women have the power to infuse the home with this feeling of G-d constantly watching us. This affects not only the couple’s relationship and the education of their children, but also the husband’s behavior at work and in the office.

Story: The afterlife that was sold

The Alter Rebbe explains in Tanya that the most important part of our spiritual lives is to live with the recognition that G-d is always watching us, which in turns causes our behavior to follow appropriately (Source 6). The Rebbe adds that this is really the spiritual dimension of living in Israel. When we act in that manner, we are living in Israel in a spiritual sense.



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