Reclaiming her place
These are the names of the daughters of Zelophechad.
The Torah could have simply said “the daughters of Zelophechad” instead of stating each and every name of his five daughters.
but it didn’t
Instead right there in the Parsha, for all to read, men and women alike, it says their names — highlighting each woman and her identity.
Is that tzanua?
“They stood before Moses and before Eleazar the Kohen and before the chieftains and the entire congregation at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, saying”
Five unmarried women stood before Moshe Rabbenu, Eleazar the Kohen, all the chieftans (no doubt male)!
Is that tzanua?
And they said:
“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.”
They demanded of these important decision making men that they, five women, should receive their own estate! A practice that was seemingly unheard of!
Is that tzanua?
One has to wonder why there was no outrage coming from their leaders. Where was the demise of the nation due to the women’s lack of tzniut?
The jig is up.
Orthodox women are out there, educated, smart, and many aren’t buying into the lie that they must remain unnamed, silent and with no personal identity other than that of their husband or father.
This concept isn’t new. It’s as old as the Bible and even if women won’t say it that doesn’t mean they aren’t angered and demeaned. I know that many will protest and say, as I’ve heard countless times before, that they don’t mind and accept their place behind the scenes as a true “eshet chayil” should. While it may be true that a percentage really feel this way, it is becoming increasingly made known that many aren’t happy and want change.
I can sympathize with the desire to protect oneself and others by adding stringencies to the laws, but it is a very dangerous game to play. Big problems arise when stringencies are presented as law. Adam and Chava fell prey to sin for that exact reason. G-d said (Genesis 2-17), “But of the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat of it.” Chava was deceived by the snake because she believed, as it states (Genesis 3-3), “You shall not eat of it, and you shall not touch it, lest you die.” This gave the snake the opportunity to deceive her by proving nothing would happen when she touched the tree. This led to man’s very first sin.
If one feels the need to place stringencies then it must be presented as such and should be with the full awareness of the dangers they present. The taller one builds a fence around their loved ones the more confined they might feel and the more curious they might become about what is beyond that fence. People who yearn for truth will find it. Lies, apologetics and shaming people into silence and submission can only cause harm.
It is not against the Torah for women to have a name
It is not against the Torah for women to have a voice
It is not against the Torah for women to lead and set policy.
Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah are an example of this and our women know that. The danger does not lie in their having names, having a voice, or having a position. The danger lies in telling them that these things are dangerous when they are not.