Monday, August 04, 2008

the Bnos Tzlofchad's marriage choice

Unless you were already privy to the interpretation of Chazal, I think you would read these pesukim (36:6-7) at the end of last week’s parsha
לַטּוֹב בְּעֵינֵיהֶם, תִּהְיֶינָה לְנָשִׁים אַךְ לְמִשְׁפַּחַת מַטֵּה אֲבִיהֶם--תִּהְיֶינָה לְנָשִׁים
to mean that the Bnos Tzlofchad could marry anyone they desired, provided that their chosen spouse was also a member of their sheivet (see Rashbam who presents this reading as pshat).

Chazal, however, interpret the pesukim to mean that the Bnos Tzlofchad were permitted to marry anyone whom they chose, without any limitation on which sheiveit their spouse was a member of. Only other women inheriting a portion were bound by the condition to choose a spouse from their sheiveit alone.

In light of Chazal’s reading, it is interesting to see how the Torah describes the actions of Bnos Tzlofchad:

כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּה ה אֶת-מֹשֶׁה, כֵּן עָשׂוּ, בְּנוֹת צְלָפְחָד

What does it mean כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּה – there was no command?! Yes, it might have been a good idea for the Bnos Tzlofchad to marry members of their own sheivet given that Hashem expressed this desire with respect to everyone else, but can we call that a “command”?

Apparently, we can! It reminded me of R’ Elchanan’s interpretation (see this post) that Bilam was punished even though G-d never explicitly commanded him not to go with Balak’s messengers because the will and desire of G-d was clear. The understanding of G-d's desire, even absent a verbel command, creates an obligation. (See the Netziv in his Harchev Davar on this pasuk.)

1 comment:

  1. It says כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּה ה אֶת-מֹשֶׁה, not them. There WAS a commandment given, but not to them. Just because they weren't chayav need not mean they didn't have the reshut to follow the same rules as others.