There are many important moments in Pinchas including G-d's "pact of friendship" with Aaron's grandson Pinchas that ensures the descendants of this important zealot will hold the "priesthood for all time". (Pinchas is rewarded for what he did at the end of last week's parsha when Zimri publicly flouted
G-d's laws by having sex in his tent with a non-Israelite woman. Pinchas killed them both in the act. Enough said.)
The parsha concludes with a detailed list of daily offerings and describes what additional ones are required on Shabbat, Rosh Chodesh (the first of each month) and on all the important holidays.
But Shabbat mom chooses to focus on what she (and many far more knowledgable commentators) consider the most powerfully feminist story in the Bible, that of the "daughters of Zelophehad, of Manassite family."
Following a census that includes the allotment of land in Canaan, these five young girls whose "father died in the wilderness" protest that their dad's portion should not be given away since he has no sons who would legally have been his rightful heirs. Appearing before Moses at the Tent of Meeting, they proclaim,
"'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!' Moses brought their case before the Lord. And the Lord said to Moses, '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.'"
Further, Gd tells Moses that if there is no son, daughters can inherit property from this point on.
From the moment Shabbat mom read these words (before she was even a mom), she knew that if she had a girl she would name her after the Biblical feminist Noa (whose sisters were Mahlah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah).
Daniel and I wanted our future daughters to be strong and independent, self-confident, and always willing to speak their minds. (Shabbat Mom didn't realize at the time that this included talking back to parents!) In fact, that forceful model, perhaps best represented by the American Jewish matriarch the Notorious RBG, describes our modern-day Noa (at left), a recent Heschel grad who is headed to Brown this fall. These qualities are also evident in our youngest, fierce Yael (center), a rising 6th grader whom we named for the warrior Yael in the Book of Judges ("Blessed above women shall Yael be") and our brave Avital, rising 9th grader (not pictured here since she is exploring the Galapagos), named for the regal Avital who was married to King David and is mentioned in the Book of Samuel. Shabbat Mom regards the Bible as the best baby name book ever! We are very proud of these three young Jewish women who we pray will be (along with their brother Caleb, named for the Biblical spy Caleb of Shelach Lecha) an unbroken link in the chain of Jewish continuity. Sisters are doing it for themselves!