B'not Tzelofehad: Individual vs Communal Rights
1א
(א) וַתִּקְרַ֜בְנָה בְּנ֣וֹת צְלׇפְחָ֗ד בֶּן־חֵ֤פֶר בֶּן־גִּלְעָד֙ בֶּן־מָכִ֣יר בֶּן־מְנַשֶּׁ֔ה לְמִשְׁפְּחֹ֖ת מְנַשֶּׁ֣ה בֶן־יוֹסֵ֑ף וְאֵ֙לֶּה֙ שְׁמ֣וֹת בְּנֹתָ֔יו מַחְלָ֣ה נֹעָ֔ה וְחׇגְלָ֥ה וּמִלְכָּ֖ה וְתִרְצָֽה׃ (ב) וַֽתַּעֲמֹ֜דְנָה לִפְנֵ֣י מֹשֶׁ֗ה וְלִפְנֵי֙ אֶלְעָזָ֣ר הַכֹּהֵ֔ן וְלִפְנֵ֥י הַנְּשִׂיאִ֖ם וְכׇל־הָעֵדָ֑ה פֶּ֥תַח אֹֽהֶל־מוֹעֵ֖ד לֵאמֹֽר׃ (ג) אָבִ֘ינוּ֮ מֵ֣ת בַּמִּדְבָּר֒ וְה֨וּא לֹא־הָיָ֜ה בְּת֣וֹךְ הָעֵדָ֗ה הַנּוֹעָדִ֛ים עַל־ה' בַּעֲדַת־קֹ֑רַח כִּֽי־בְחֶטְא֣וֹ מֵ֔ת וּבָנִ֖ים לֹא־הָ֥יוּ לֽוֹ׃ (ד) לָ֣מָּה יִגָּרַ֤ע שֵׁם־אָבִ֙ינוּ֙ מִתּ֣וֹךְ מִשְׁפַּחְתּ֔וֹ כִּ֛י אֵ֥ין ל֖וֹ בֵּ֑ן תְּנָה־לָּ֣נוּ אֲחֻזָּ֔ה בְּת֖וֹךְ אֲחֵ֥י אָבִֽינוּ׃ (ה) וַיַּקְרֵ֥ב מֹשֶׁ֛ה אֶת־מִשְׁפָּטָ֖ן לִפְנֵ֥י ה'׃ {פ}
(1) The daughters of Zelophehad, of Manassite family—son of Hepher son of Gilead son of Machir son of Manasseh son of Joseph—came forward. The names of the daughters were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. (2) They stood before Moses, Eleazar the priest, the chieftains, and the whole assembly, at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, and they said, (3) “Our father died in the wilderness. He was not one of the faction, Korah’s faction, which banded together against the LORD, but died for his own sin; and he has left no sons. (4) Let not our father’s name be lost to his clan just because he had no son! Give us a holding among our father’s kinsmen!” (5) Moses brought their case before the LORD.
2ב

ספרי במדבר כ"ז:א', פיסקה קלג

כיון ששמעו בנות צלפחד שהארץ מתחלקת לשבטים, לזכרים ולא לנקבות, נתקבצו כולן זו לזו ליטול עצה. אמרו: לא כרחמי בשר ודם רחמי המקום (הקב"ה) – בשר ודם רחמיו על הזכרים יותר מן הנקבות, אבל מי שאמר והיה העולם אינו כן, אלא רחמיו על הזכרים ועל הנקבות...

Sifri on Bemidbar 27


When the daughters of Zelophehad heard that the land of Israel was to be divided according to tribes, according to the males and not the females, they gathered together to make a plan. They said, God’s mercy and compassion is not like the compassion of mankind. Mankind favors men over women. God is not like that. God's compassion extends to men and women alike...

3ג

(ו) וַיֹּ֥אמֶר ה' אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר׃ (ז) כֵּ֗ן בְּנ֣וֹת צְלׇפְחָד֮ דֹּבְרֹת֒ נָתֹ֨ן תִּתֵּ֤ן לָהֶם֙ אֲחֻזַּ֣ת נַחֲלָ֔ה בְּת֖וֹךְ אֲחֵ֣י אֲבִיהֶ֑ם וְהַֽעֲבַרְתָּ֛ אֶת־נַחֲלַ֥ת אֲבִיהֶ֖ן לָהֶֽן׃ (ח) וְאֶל־בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל תְּדַבֵּ֣ר לֵאמֹ֑ר אִ֣ישׁ כִּֽי־יָמ֗וּת וּבֵן֙ אֵ֣ין ל֔וֹ וְהַֽעֲבַרְתֶּ֥ם אֶת־נַחֲלָת֖וֹ לְבִתּֽוֹ׃ (ט) וְאִם־אֵ֥ין ל֖וֹ בַּ֑ת וּנְתַתֶּ֥ם אֶת־נַחֲלָת֖וֹ לְאֶחָֽיו׃ (י) וְאִם־אֵ֥ין ל֖וֹ אַחִ֑ים וּנְתַתֶּ֥ם אֶת־נַחֲלָת֖וֹ לַאֲחֵ֥י אָבִֽיו׃ (יא) וְאִם־אֵ֣ין אַחִים֮ לְאָבִיו֒ וּנְתַתֶּ֣ם אֶת־נַחֲלָת֗וֹ לִשְׁאֵר֞וֹ הַקָּרֹ֥ב אֵלָ֛יו מִמִּשְׁפַּחְתּ֖וֹ וְיָרַ֣שׁ אֹתָ֑הּ וְֽהָ֨יְתָ֜ה לִבְנֵ֤י יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ לְחֻקַּ֣ת מִשְׁפָּ֔ט כַּאֲשֶׁ֛ר צִוָּ֥ה ה' אֶת־מֹשֶֽׁה׃ {פ}

(6) And the LORD said to Moses, (7) “The plea of Zelophehad’s daughters is just: you should give them a hereditary holding among their father’s kinsmen; transfer their father’s share to them. (8) “Further, speak to the Israelite people as follows: ‘If a man dies without leaving a son, you shall transfer his property to his daughter. (9) If he has no daughter, you shall assign his property to his brothers. (10) If he has no brothers, you shall assign his property to his father’s brothers. (11) If his father had no brothers, you shall assign his property to his nearest relative in his own clan, and he shall inherit it.’ This shall be the law of procedure for the Israelites, in accordance with the LORD’s command to Moses.”
4ד

For the moment justice is served, both for the daughters of Tzelofehad and for generations of brotherless women to come.

But it causes a different problem. . .

5ה
(א) וַֽיִּקְרְב֞וּ רָאשֵׁ֣י הָֽאָב֗וֹת לְמִשְׁפַּ֤חַת בְּנֵֽי־גִלְעָד֙ בֶּן־מָכִ֣יר בֶּן־מְנַשֶּׁ֔ה מִֽמִּשְׁפְּחֹ֖ת בְּנֵ֣י יוֹסֵ֑ף וַֽיְדַבְּר֞וּ לִפְנֵ֤י מֹשֶׁה֙ וְלִפְנֵ֣י הַנְּשִׂאִ֔ים רָאשֵׁ֥י אָב֖וֹת לִבְנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ (ב) וַיֹּאמְר֗וּ אֶת־אֲדֹנִי֙ צִוָּ֣ה ה' לָתֵ֨ת אֶת־הָאָ֧רֶץ בְּנַחֲלָ֛ה בְּגוֹרָ֖ל לִבְנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וַֽאדֹנִי֙ צֻוָּ֣ה בַֽה' לָתֵ֗ת אֶֽת־נַחֲלַ֛ת צְלׇפְחָ֥ד אָחִ֖ינוּ לִבְנֹתָֽיו׃ (ג) וְ֠הָי֠וּ לְאֶחָ֞ד מִבְּנֵ֨י שִׁבְטֵ֥י בְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵל֮ לְנָשִׁים֒ וְנִגְרְעָ֤ה נַחֲלָתָן֙ מִנַּחֲלַ֣ת אֲבֹתֵ֔ינוּ וְנוֹסַ֕ף עַ֚ל נַחֲלַ֣ת הַמַּטֶּ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר תִּהְיֶ֖ינָה לָהֶ֑ם וּמִגֹּרַ֥ל נַחֲלָתֵ֖נוּ יִגָּרֵֽעַ׃ (ד) וְאִם־יִהְיֶ֣ה הַיֹּבֵל֮ לִבְנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵל֒ וְנֽוֹסְפָה֙ נַחֲלָתָ֔ן עַ֚ל נַחֲלַ֣ת הַמַּטֶּ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר תִּהְיֶ֖ינָה לָהֶ֑ם וּמִֽנַּחֲלַת֙ מַטֵּ֣ה אֲבֹתֵ֔ינוּ יִגָּרַ֖ע נַחֲלָתָֽן׃

(1) The family heads in the clan of the descendants of Gilead son of Machir son of Manasseh, one of the Josephite clans, came forward and appealed to Moses and the chieftains, family heads of the Israelites. (2) They said, “The LORD commanded my lord to assign the land to the Israelites as shares by lot, and my lord was further commanded by the LORD to assign the share of our kinsman Zelophehad to his daughters. (3) Now, if they marry persons from another Israelite tribe, their share will be cut off from our ancestral portion and be added to the portion of the tribe into which they marry; thus our allotted portion will be diminished. (4) And even when the Israelites observe the jubilee, their share will be added to that of the tribe into which they marry, and their share will be cut off from the ancestral portion of our tribe.”

6ו
ונוסף על נחלת המטה. שֶׁהֲרֵי בְנָהּ יוֹרְשָׁהּ, וְהַבֵּן מִתְיַחֵס עַל שֵׁבֶט אָבִיו:
ונוסף על נחלת המטה AND IF THEY BECOME WIVES TO ANY SONS OF THE OTHER TRIBES … THEN WILL THEIR INHERITANCE] BE ADDED TO THE INHERITANCE OF THE TRIBE [WHEREUNTO THEY SHALL BELONG] — for her son will be her heir and the son reckons his pedigree after his father’s tribe.
7ז

"Logic dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."

Spock (played by Leonard Nimoy) in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

8ח
(ה) וַיְצַ֤ו מֹשֶׁה֙ אֶת־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל עַל־פִּ֥י ה' לֵאמֹ֑ר כֵּ֛ן מַטֵּ֥ה בְנֵֽי־יוֹסֵ֖ף דֹּבְרִֽים׃ (ו) זֶ֣ה הַדָּבָ֞ר אֲשֶׁר־צִוָּ֣ה ה' לִבְנ֤וֹת צְלׇפְחָד֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר לַטּ֥וֹב בְּעֵינֵיהֶ֖ם תִּהְיֶ֣ינָה לְנָשִׁ֑ים אַ֗ךְ לְמִשְׁפַּ֛חַת מַטֵּ֥ה אֲבִיהֶ֖ם תִּהְיֶ֥ינָה לְנָשִֽׁים׃ (ז) וְלֹֽא־תִסֹּ֤ב נַחֲלָה֙ לִבְנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל מִמַּטֶּ֖ה אֶל־מַטֶּ֑ה כִּ֣י אִ֗ישׁ בְּנַחֲלַת֙ מַטֵּ֣ה אֲבֹתָ֔יו יִדְבְּק֖וּ בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ (ח) וְכׇל־בַּ֞ת יֹרֶ֣שֶׁת נַחֲלָ֗ה מִמַּטּוֹת֮ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵל֒ לְאֶחָ֗ד מִמִּשְׁפַּ֛חַת מַטֵּ֥ה אָבִ֖יהָ תִּהְיֶ֣ה לְאִשָּׁ֑ה לְמַ֗עַן יִֽירְשׁוּ֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל אִ֖ישׁ נַחֲלַ֥ת אֲבֹתָֽיו׃ (ט) וְלֹֽא־תִסֹּ֧ב נַחֲלָ֛ה מִמַּטֶּ֖ה לְמַטֶּ֣ה אַחֵ֑ר כִּי־אִישׁ֙ בְּנַ֣חֲלָת֔וֹ יִדְבְּק֕וּ מַטּ֖וֹת בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ (י) כַּאֲשֶׁ֛ר צִוָּ֥ה ה' אֶת־מֹשֶׁ֑ה כֵּ֥ן עָשׂ֖וּ בְּנ֥וֹת צְלׇפְחָֽד׃ (יא) וַתִּהְיֶ֜ינָה מַחְלָ֣ה תִרְצָ֗ה וְחׇגְלָ֧ה וּמִלְכָּ֛ה וְנֹעָ֖ה בְּנ֣וֹת צְלׇפְחָ֑ד לִבְנֵ֥י דֹדֵיהֶ֖ן לְנָשִֽׁים׃
(5) So Moses, at the LORD’s bidding, instructed the Israelites, saying: “The plea of the Josephite tribe is just. (6) This is what the LORD has commanded concerning the daughters of Zelophehad: They may marry anyone they wish, provided they marry into a clan of their father’s tribe. (7) No inheritance of the Israelites may pass over from one tribe to another, but the Israelites must remain bound each to the ancestral portion of his tribe. (8) Every daughter among the Israelite tribes who inherits a share must marry someone from a clan of her father’s tribe, in order that every Israelite may keep his ancestral share. (9) Thus no inheritance shall pass over from one tribe to another, but the Israelite tribes shall remain bound each to its portion.” (10) The daughters of Zelophehad did as the LORD had commanded Moses: (11) Mahlah, Tirzah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Noah, Zelophehad’s daughters, were married to sons of their uncles,
9ט

Does the Torah agree with Spock?

What do you think of the Torah's response? Is it fair?

10י
מַאי דְּרוּשׁ זֶה הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר צִוָּה ה׳ לִבְנוֹת צְלׇפְחָד וְגוֹ׳ דָּבָר זֶה לֹא יְהֵא נוֹהֵג אֶלָּא בְּדוֹר זֶה
What did they expound, in support of their conclusion that this halakha was no longer in effect? The verse states: “This is the matter that the Lord has commanded concerning the daughters of Zelophehad, saying: Let them marry whom they think best; only into the family of the tribe of their father shall they marry” (Numbers 36:5). They derived from the verse that this matter shall be practiced only in this generation, when Eretz Yisrael was divided among the tribes, but afterward members of different tribes were permitted to marry. On the day this barrier separating the tribes was removed, the Sages established a permanent day of rejoicing.
11יא

Other examples where the needs of the individual and the needs of the community might clash:

  • A death right before a holiday
  • Wearing a mask