Dear Readers,

In this week’s Torah portion, we read about the daughters of Tzelafchad and how they petitioned Moses to grant them an inheritance in the land of Israel since their father had died and had no sons.

The Chassidic masters explain that each of the forty-two legs of the journey from Egypt to the Holy Land reflects another generation and stage in our world history. The incident of the daughters of Tzelafchad occurred on the last stop of this journey. It represents the end of our cosmic journey, right before our ultimate conquest of the Land, in the messianic age.

Since the patriarchs, there have been great women who displayed spiritual qualities that their husbands (who were themselves righteous leaders of Israel) could not attain. These individuals experienced a taste of the messianic era in their lives, when the feminine values will rise above the masculine.

During the generation of the desert, the women, too, repaired what the men broke down by refusing to participate in the Golden Calf and by refusing to listen to the negative counsel of the spies. The daughters of Tzelafchad petitioned to receive an inheritance, when the men had been unwilling to enter the Land.

The great Kabbalist Rabbi Isaac Luria, the Arizal, explains (Shaar Hagilgulim) that the generation of the final redemption is a reincarnation of the souls of those who were freed from Egypt. Their strong feminine values will be mirrored in the last leg of our history, causing and heralding the ultimate redemption, when the feminine role will be cherished.

We are that generation. And there is no time better than now when we so desperately need the feminine voice and the feminine qualities of receptiveness, nurturance, and empathy to change the very nature and hostility of our world and transform it into a home for G‑d.

This week begins the “Three Weeks,” the annual period of mourning the destruction of the Holy Temple and our ongoing exile. It begins on the 17th day of the Jewish month of Tammuz, a fast day that marks the day when the walls of Jerusalem were breached by the Romans in 69 CE.

The second Temple was destroyed because Jews were guilty of harboring baseless hatred towards each other. Rather than feeling and acting like a united people, they chose to see separations. We remain in exile today because we need to learn how to foster baseless love.

We can help correct that by breaking down the barriers that divide us, including those barriers we create to judge, feel superior or act callously towards others. Instead, let’s build a shelter of protection that surrounds those who are going through tough times (and who isn’t?), encircling them with love, empathy and practical assistance.

Wishing you a wonderful, nurturing week.

Chana Weisberg,
Editor, TJW