You are a manager at your work place. From your experience and expertise, you are certain that your strategy is the right way to take to deal with a particular problem that threatens your team’s efficiency. You are being confronted by several of your employees, however, who challenge your policy. Officially, you are their superior and they need to concede to you.

How do you handle the situation? Do you use your rank and order them to do things as you have outlined? Do you educate them on your position, convincing them why this is the better approach? Or do you sit down with them to listen to their position and solicit advice from others, being open to the possibility that your subordinates might be correct?

The daughters of Tzelafchad—Machlah, Noah, Choglah, Milkah, and Tirtzah—stood before Moses and the entire congregation saying, “Our father died in the desert, but he was not in the assembly that banded together against G‑d in Korach’s assembly, and he had no sons. Why should our father’s name be eliminated from his family because he had no son? Give us a portion along with our father’s brothers.”

So Moses brought their case before G‑d.

G‑d spoke to Moses, saying: “Tzelafchad’s daughters speak justly. You shall certainly give them a portion of inheritance . . .

“Speak to the children of Israel saying: If a man dies and has no son, you shall transfer his inheritance to his daughter.” (Numbers 27:1–8)

Every episode in the Torah teaches an everlasting spiritual lesson. The Kabbalistic masters understood this law of inheritance as a metaphorical reflection of the spiritual roles of men and women.

The “conquest of the land” was not a command for the generation of the wilderness alone. Each of us is enjoined to “conquer the land”—to gain mastery of our physical world and transform it into a proper and holy home for G‑d.

The nature of the physical is that it is resistant and hostile to G‑dliness, holiness, and spirituality. The way to “conquer the land” has traditionally been to battle, subjugate, and uproot the darkness and negativity (whether by battling evil people or regimes, or by fighting value systems that are antithetical to the morality of the Torah). We “battle” by suppressing the materialistic nature of our world and imposing on it a higher purpose and function.

But there is another method of transforming our world into a G‑dly home: by cultivating and exposing the inherent positive elements within creation. In this mode, we are not working in the traditional, linear method of imposing and overcoming, but rather in the more inner and pervasive manner of raising and elevating our reality to make it more G‑dly.

These two methods, in a nutshell, reflect the masculine and feminine modes of spiritual endeavor. We employ the “masculine” mode when we conquer, subjugate, or overcome. We employ the “feminine” approach when we cultivate, nurture, and bring out the inner qualities. (This is not to say that every man will always use the masculine mode and every woman the feminine, but these are the masculine and feminine energies within creation.)

Both roles are vital for transforming our world into a G‑dly one. But from the beginning of time, the male role was traditionally perceived as superior and more effective. And for a time, that role was the vital one. When evil abounds, you need to fight it aggressively and head-on.

But there comes a point when humankind is ready to make a transition—from authority to dialogue, from dominance to persuasion, from control to nurture.

The daughters of Tzelafchad understood this reality. They realized that there would come a time and a place when “conquering and settling the land” would not be an exclusively masculine endeavor. Not all conquests are achieved by overpowering one’s adversary. There is a feminine way to transform the materiality of our lives into a “holy land.”

G‑d agreed with their perception.

G‑d instructed: “If a man has no son, you shall pass his inheritance on to his daughter.” The Kabbalistic masters understood this to mean that at times the qualities of the “son,” the masculine, aggressive, and combative nature, are better replaced by those of the “daughter,” the passive, compassionate, non-confrontational side.

Humanity will reach a time when the feminine qualities of receptiveness, nurturance, and empathy will be valued and vindicated for their equal, if not more effective, role of changing the very nature and hostility of “the land” and transforming it into a home for G‑d.

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.

From the time of our patriarchs, there have been women who displayed spiritual qualities that their husbands (who were themselves great leaders of Israel) could not attain. These were individuals who tasted the messianic era in their time, when the feminine values will rise above the masculine.

The generation of the desert was also exposed to this messianic reality when the women 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.