Tzelophchod's daughters

Who was Eretz Yisroel given to?
The possuk in this week’s sedrah discusses the dividing of Eretz Yisroel among the shevatim:

לָאֵלֶּה תֵּחָלֵק הָאָרֶץ בְּנַחֲלָה בְּמִסְפַּר שֵׁמוֹת
“To these you should divide the land as an inheritance according to the number of names.”

There is a machlokess tanaim in Bava Basra (117a) if the land was alloted to the generation that came out of mitzraim or if it was alloted to the generation that came into Eretz Yisroel:

רבי יאשיה אומר ליוצאי מצרים נתחלקה הארץ, שנאמר: (במדבר כו נה) [אך בגורל יחלק את הארץ] לשמות מטות אבותם ינחלו; .... רבי יונתן אומר: לבאי הארץ נתחלקה הארץ, שנאמר 'לאלה תחלק הארץ בנחלה'; אלא מה אני מקיים 'לשמות מטות אבותם ינחלו'? - משונה נחלה זו מכל נחלות שבעולם: שכל נחלות שבעולם חיין יורשין מתים, וכאן מתים יורשין חיין
Rebbi Yoshiyoh says: Eretz Yisroel was divided to the people who came out of Mitzraim, as it says “[אך בגורל יחלק את הארץ] לשמות מטות אבותם ינחלו” – “You should divide the land by lots according to the names of the families of their fathers they will inherit.” [If 2 brothers came out of Mitzraim and one had one child who entered Eretz Yisroel and the other had 10 children, the one child would receive the same amount of land as the 10 children together.]

Rebbi Yonasan says – Eretz Yisroel was divided among the people who came into Eretz Yisroel as the passuk says “לאלה תחלק הארץ בנחלה” – “To these you should divide the land as an inheritance.” [This seems to mean, that in the case of one family with 10 children and one family with one child, all the children would receive the same amount of land as these are the people who actually entered Eretz Yisroel.]

However Rebbi Yonasan continues: So how do I explain the passuk that says “לשמות מטות אבותם ינחלו” – “You should divide the land according to the names of their fathers families”? This inheritance is different to all other inheritance. All inheritance in the world – the live inherit the dead, here the dead inherited the living.

[The Rashbam explains: Reuvain and Shimon came out of Mitzraim, Reuvain had 9 chidren and Shimon had 1 child and the children were going to divide 5 kur of land which is 10 lesochin. Each of the 10 children would take 1 lesech and then they returned them to their fathers and then the fathers went and gave the land back to the children as an inheritance. The 9 brothers would then divide 2 ½ kur amongst themselves and the one child would also take 2 ½ kur.]

Therefore it comes out that Rebbi Yonasan agrees with Rebbi Yoshiyo that in most cases the land was divided according to those who came out of Mitzraim. There are some cases, however, where they differ.

B’nos Tzelaphchad
The b’nos Tzelophchod came to Moshe and they said:
אָבִינוּ מֵת בַּמִּדְבָּר וְהוּא לֹא הָיָה בְּתוֹךְ הָעֵדָה הַנּוֹעָדִים עַל ה' בַּעֲדַת קֹרַח כִּי בְחֶטְאוֹ מֵת וּבָנִים לֹא הָיוּ לוֹ. לָמָּה יִגָּרַע שֵׁם אָבִינוּ מִתּוֹךְ מִשְׁפַּחְתּוֹ כִּי אֵין לוֹ בֵּן תְּנָה לָּנוּ אֲחֻזָּה בְּתוֹךְ בְּתוֹךְ אֲחֵי אָבִינוּ.

“Our father died in the midbar and he was not part of Korach’s assembly and he did not have sons. Why should the name of our father be removed from his family because he has no son, give us land among our father’s brothers.”

Why should Tzelopchod had received a portion in Eretz Yisroel if he did not enter Eretz Yisroel according to the man de’amer that the land was divided to those who entered Eretz Yisroel? Tosafos (bava basra 118b, d”h u’lemaan) explains that the reason that the bnos Tzelaphchad received land was through the reverse yerushah as follows:

Tzelaphchad had brothers who came into Eretz Yisroel and therefore merited a portion in Eretz Yisroel. However, in order to divide the land, it first went back to Chefer who came out of Mitzraim. Then the land went back down to Chefer’s children. Tzelophchod was the bechor, so according to his daughters’ claim, he took a double portion in this land which then went to them.

Tosafos’ question
Tosafos asks, if the land that Tzelaphchad’s daughters received was not from Tzelophchod and only came to his daughters through Chefer, why did the b’nos Tzelophchod have to say that their father was not part of Korach’s assembly? Even had he not merited any land his daughters would still receive land because the land only passed through Tzelophchod’s line of yerushah from Chefer to his grand-daughters? Tosafos does not answer this question.

Rabbeinu Yonah answers as follows:
  • Tzelophchod’s daughters wanted to take a double portion in Chefer’s land because Tzelophchod was the bechor.
  • Had he been part of Korach’s assembly, they would still have received a single portion.
  • However in order for them to receive a double portion, they would have to be considered as standing in his place and Tzelophchod would have to have been considered as Chefer’s heir.
  • This would not have been possible if he had joined Korach’s gathering.
Rabbi Sholom Hirschprung asks, why did Tosafos not give the same answer as Rabbeinu Yonah?

Rb Hirschprung explains that there is a machlokess between Tosafos and Rabbeinu Yonah in the understanding of Rebbi Yonasan:

What does Rebbi Yonasan mean?

Rebbi Yonasan says that the land was divided to those who entered Eretz Yisroel but nevertheless the land went back up to the generation who came out of Mitzraim and then came back down to the current generation. Does this mean that the real heirs of Eretz Yisroel are the children who entered or their fathers who came out of Mitzraim? 

The Rashbam says:
והבנים אינן כי אם שלוחים בעלמא

“The children are simply messengers to receive land and then return this to their parents.”

According to this Rebbbi Yonasan’s opinion is that the land was given primarily to the yotzei mitzraim.

Rabbeinu Yonah
However Rabbeinu Yonah says:

דגזירת הכתוב הוא שיחלקו ראובן ושמעון בשוה דכתיב לשמות מטות אבותם דהיינו שהבנים מחזירים אצל אבותיהן ואם לא שאבותיהן חולקין בשוה למה מחזירים אצלם

 “It is a gezeras hakasuv that Reuvain and Shimon (the fathers of the people who came into Eretz Yisroel) should divide the land evenly between them. As the passuk says ‘לשמות מטות אבותם’, that is, the children should return the land to their fathers. If this were not for the purpose that the fathers should divide evenly, to what end would they return the land to them?”

According to Rabbeinu Yonah, Rebbi Yonasan’s opinion is that the ones who really merited the land were the children, they only returned the land to their fathers so that the land could be redivided.


In the case of Chefer and Tzelophchod, according to Rebbi Yonasan: 
  • The Rashbam will say that the land that was given to all of Chefer’s descendants was Chefer’s property.
  • Rabbeinu Yonah will say that the portion of land that went through Chefer was the property of his grandchildren. It only went through Chefer to be redivided. 
Hashem was particular not to give part of Eretz Yisroel to Korach’s assembly. Has Tzelophchod been one of Korach’s gathering then:

Rashbam: According to the Rashbam (and Tosafos who holds like the Rashbam) this would not be a problem. The land was given to Chefer, not Tzelophchod. Therefore Tzelopchod, as a bechor, could receive a double portion as in any other ordinary yerushah.

Because the land was not given directly by Hashem to Tzelophchod there was no reason for him not to receive a double portion even as a member of Korach’s gathering. Therefore Tosafos asks why the daughters had to specify that Tzelophchod was not a part of this gathering.

Rabbeinu Yonah:  According to Rabbeinu Yonah, the land only went through the previous generation to be divided evenly but never belonged to them. Tzelopchod could not have bequeathed his daughters a double portion because the land never belonged to him. A bechor only receives a double portion in something that he acquires.

Therefore Tzelophchod’s daughters could only claim a double portion by saying that they stood in the place of their father and the land would have been considered as having been given to their father. As a member of Korach’s assembly he could not have received the land, which is why they had to specify that he was killed because of his own aveiroh.

This is why Rabbeinu Yonah answers that his daughters had to exclude the possibility of him having been associated with Korach but Tosafos remains with a question.


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