Pinchas

The law was spoken: sons shall inherit their fathers’ property. Five orphan sisters set out to change the law. “They came close… and stood before Moses, Eleazar the priest, the chieftains, the entire people…” Commentators explain that they were sent on a mad bureaucratic chase, from one leader to another, until they finally found them all together and confronted them with the law’s intrinsic injustice. Legal tautology is cruel – ‘a law is right because it’s the law’ – and taking on an entire system seems impossible. Fighting it usually fails, for it strengthens the power of the system. The five daughters use another method – they “come close” before everyone, letting their humanity be seen, exposing the flaw and changing the law.

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[Inspired by: Numbers 27; Abarbanel on Pinchas; R. Raz Hartman, Pinchas 5775; Walter Benjamin, Critique of Violenceand the male-only Numbering of the Israelites by Henri Félix Emmanuel Philippoteaux.]

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