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Browse Torah Articles: Sefer Bemidbar: Parashat Pinehas: Benot Selofhad

Contributed by: R. Ezra Mizrahi

In this week's parasha we see five sisters who approach Moshe and request that the portion of land that was supposed to go their father should go to them. These five sisters were the daughters of "Selofhad". They came to Moshe and claimed that their father did not have any son (as we know, only sons inherit and daughters do not), and that he did not die with the group of people who died with Qorah.

They explain that he died in his own sin, and that they want to inherit his land.

Our rabbis say that Selofhad was the Mekoshesh Essim, the person who worked on Shabbat, and was therefore killed in the desert.

Moshe turned to Hashem and asked what should be done in this situation.

Why didn't Moshe know?
Rabbis tell us that "every person who obeys the laws of Shabbat will receive his portion (of land) without anguish/problems." If a person DOES NOT follow the laws of Shabbat, it seems like they obviously DO NOT inherit their portion.

If Selofhad worked on Shabbat, what was the question? Isn't it obvious that he (or his daughters) should not receive his portion?

No. There is an opinion that says that Selofhad worked on Shabbat for the sake of heaven, not knowing that it was not allowed. He believed that work for the sake of heaven could be done on Shabbat.

If this was his true intention, then he (and his descendants) would not lose their portion.

This is why Moshe turned to Hashem, who knows each person and what their intentions are, to see what Selofhad intended.

Indeed, his actions were for the sake of heaven and his daughters did receive their portion in the land of Israel.
 

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