Girls Who Run the World

Get your SKINNY on in less time than it takes to do a bottle flip.


(the pitch)

We’re nearing the end of the fourth of the Torah’s five books. The book is called Bamidbar (bah-meed-bar), which means: In the Desert. It gets its name from its opening verse: “And God called to Moses in the desert of Sinai... ” The book follows our peeps for 40 years as they traveled in the desert from slavery in Egypt to the Holy Land of Israel. Bamidbar is called Numbers in English because it includes several chapters where a census was taken of our peeps. In the first chapter of Bamidbar, we read about the census that was conducted one year after the Israelites’ Exodus from slavery in Egypt. (If you want a re-count, read this SKINNY.) In this week’s Torah reading, we learn that it’s been 39 years since that census was taken and the entire generation of Israelites who distrusted the scouts’ report about the Holy Land have died out so that only the next generation would get to enter the land. (If you were too busy playing Pokémon Go, read this SKINNY for the intel on the 40 year generation gap.)


(the over think)

In this week’s Torah reading, our peeps were still traversing the desert on the edge of the Holy Land when some of them got into trouble for worshipping idols and downloading forbidden dating apps. A contemptible guy named Zimri (zeem-ree), who was a leader in the Tribe of Simeon, was the worst offender. Zimri and his paramour openly defied Moses’ leadership. A fierce plague began to spread throughout the Israelite camp as punishment. Pinchas (like bean with a “p”- chas), who was Elazar’s son and Aaron’s grandson, stopped the plague by killing Zimri and his lover with a spear. (If you’re not FB friends with Elazar and Aaron, read this SKINNY.) Pinchas was rewarded for his efforts by getting this week’s Torah portion named after him and was promoted to be a holy priest. (More on Pinchas in next week’s Torah episode.)
After the plague, God told Moses to count all the Israelite men between the ages of 20 and 60 so they could divide up the Holy Land among the 12 Tribes. Numerical SKINNIES know that God liked to count our peeps and promised to give the land to our tribe-mates. (Read this SKINNY if you want to be numerical too and read this SKINNY if you’re tribe deficient.) The Tribe of Levi, which included 23,000 burly men, didn’t get any land as they were assigned to serve God in the Holy Temple. (If you haven’t bought a pair of Levi’s in a while, read this SKINNY.)
After the counting, God told Moses to ascend the Avarim (ah-vah-reem) mountain, which provided a lovely scenic overlook of the entire Holy Land. In last week’s Torah reading, Moses learned he wouldn’t get to enter the land. (If you were too distracted watching the RNC and DNC, read this SKINNY to get the update on Moses’ pending demise.) Team SKINNY suspects Moses had FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) when he saw the Holy Land. In this week’s Torah reading, Moses selected Yehoshua (y’who-shoe-ah; Joshua in English) as our peeps’ next leader. (If you remember Rachel’s crush on Joshua from Friends, but don’t recall the Torah’s Joshua, read this SKINNY.)


(to be in-the-know)

Only men were counted as part of the census. While Team SKINNY is sad-faced emoticoned that women weren’t included in the count, five sisters “Leaned In” and got a chunk of land for themselves. According to the law at the time, only men could inherent land, which meant the sisters wouldn’t be entitled to any of it because their father had passed away without sons. The sisters petitioned Moses to give them their father’s share. Moses consulted with God, who approved their request. God then revised the inheritance land-laws to include girls. (Team SKINNY says: “Yay, God!”)


(bookmark. reflect. share)

The five sisters who refused to stay silent and accept their fate were named Machlah (mah-ch-lah), Noa (like the dude in the flood), Chaglah (chag-lah), Milcah (meal-kah), and Tirtza (tear-tz-ah). They were the daughters of Zelophchad (tz-la-ph-chad) from the tribe of Manasseh. According to the Talmud (tall-mood) – a collection of ancient Jewish laws and customs – the sisters were wise, pious, and astute legal interpreters. Team SKINNY thinks they were badasses!
The five sisters approached Moses in front of all of the male leaders and the entire community to make the case that they should inherit their father’s share of the land that was being apportioned to the Israelites. They told Moses that their dad was an honorable man who wasn’t among those who joined the rebellion led by Korach (core-ah-ch). [Read this SKINNY if you missed the rebellion on your news app.] Furthermore, the sisters argued, their father also wasn’t among those who believed the scouts’ false report of the land. (Girl Scout SKINNIES know that because of the scouts’ fraudulent report, our peeps were sentenced to 40 years of boot camp in the desert until the entire generation of scout believers had died off. If you want to be a Girl Scout too, read this SKINNY.) The sisters explained that since their father wasn’t among the generation who were barred from entering the land, he would have gotten a nice piece of property with room to grow. Moreover, they pressed, because he had no sons it wasn’t fair that his name would be eliminated from the history of our people. The only rightful decision, they said, was for their father’s land inheritance to be passed to them.
Get this: The sisters weren’t just making their case to Moses and the other male leaders of the community – they were making their case to God. They were actually critiquing God by pointing out that God’s law was unjust. You might assume Moses would’ve dismiss their claims. Instead, he brought their case to God who fully agreed with the sisters. God then amended the law to enable daughters who had no father or brothers to inherit land. While this might not seem revolutionary by today’s girl-power standards, it was a big deal back-in-the-Torah-day as a landmark decision for women’s rights.
Team SKINNY thinks this week’s Torah portion inspires all of us to stand up when we see injustice. Have you ever stood up for your rights? Discuss at dinner on Friday night (or any other night!)


(the chew on)

Rick Astley isn’t a MOT (Member of the Tribe), but if you’ve always wanted to be rick-rolled or have no clue what it is, click here. (We doubt you’ll thank us.)



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