I was struck by the power of the woman's voice in this portion. Rarely in our Torah are we given such stories, where the women's voice is as powerful and heard. The essence of the story is that a the daughters of Zelophechad approached Moses and made the case that their father had died, leaving behind only daughters. They requested that they should receive their father's portion in the land of Israel. Moses relays their request to God, and God agrees to their request. Then Moses in instructed of the laws of inheritance.
This was an incredibly unheard of scenario in biblical times. The role of women was barely acknowledged, let alone given equal status. I remember thinking 18 years ago- how b'shert that this was the portion as I began my rabbinate, marking new paths for women rabbis, at least in my congregation. And this is stil the case today.
I imagine many of us have been glued to our tv's for the past 2 weeks, watching the RNC and then the DNC. There are certainly many nuances to both of these conventions that are different from the past and are compelling us to stay tuned. And regardless of where one's personal politics may lie, there is no question that another glass ceiling has been broken, as a woman was, for the first time in American's 240-year history, nominated to be the candidate of a major party for President.
One of my favorite interviews from the past two weeks was with a lovely 101-year old woman at the DNC who was born when women did not have the right to vote, and could not believe how far we have come in her life time. She was truly exhilarated by the moment in time.
Just as in Torah, our history continues to move forward. In biblical days it seemed obvious that 5 daughters should receive their father's inheritance after his death, but no one had ever asked, and so it had never been. In today's world, there are many examples of "firsts", particularly as it relates to women's role in society. We may think "it is 2016 - a woman can do anything she wants," but sometimes there still needs to be one who is willing to ask, to push, to try.