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Land and encountering unforseen issues

07/12/2018 11:12:51 AM

Jul12

Ofer Ben-Gai

 In parashat Matot-Masei, we read this week the sequel to a legal ruling from the previous parasha, Pinchas. The first episode happens while still in the desert, when owning land is still a theoretical dream. Five sisters claim their inheritance rights and win a ruling in their favor. Not a small feat in the biblical patriarchal society. In our current parasha, the Israelites are very close to entering their ancestral land. The concept of owning and inheriting land is not so far-fetched.
The country is to be divided between the 12 tribes with clear borders between them. If any of the five sisters is to marry outside her tribe, border lines would be blurred. Tribal leaders appeal the original ruling and a new ruling, really - a compromise is issued. This new ruling is loyal to the original, but sensitive to the new reality.
A society in the process of change encounters issues unforeseen in the past. This is the story of human civilization - we are always in the process of becoming. This is our role as Reform Jews – contribute ideas for adjusting our Jewish lives to modernity while staying rooted in, and knowledgeable of, the rich history and traditions of our people.
Ofer Ben-Gai is a member of Temple Shalom

Wed, June 19 2019 16 Sivan 5779