producers-circle

How Is Land Ownership Connected To The Pesach Sheni Offering?

How Is Land Ownership Connected To The Pesach Sheni Offering?


Rabbi David Fohrman

Rabbi David Fohrman

Founder and Lead Scholar

In Parshat Pinchas, we read about the daughters of Tzelaphchad, who sought to inherit their father’s land. God granted their request, and even codified it into law. But there’s something unique about this story — it’s strikingly similar to the story of the Pesach Sheini offering. When a group of ritually impure people approached Moses and requested a way to make an offering, God codified a practice called Pesach Sheni, which acted as a “make-up” offering for the impure. But what does inheriting land and ritually impurity have to do with each other?

Join Rabbi Fohrman and Daniel Loewenstein as they explore the meaning of nationhood and purity. In this podcast, they explore the implications of the connection between Pesach Sheini and the daughters of Zelophehad, and develop ideas such as whether there might be a hidden structure to the Book of Numbers, and what it might mean to think like God.

Read More

Please sign in or sign up to comment.

Transcript

Rabbi Fohrman: Hi everybody. Welcome back to Parsha Lab. This is Rabbi David Fohrman. I'm here this week with one of our fabulous writers, Daniel Loewenstein. Daniel.

Daniel: Hi, Rabbi Fohrman. How are you?

Rabbi Fohrman: Good to have you aboard and really look forward to having you here today for one more of these, Daniel. Before we begin, I just want to remind all of you folks, out there in Aleph Beta listener land, to subscribe to this podcast if you haven't already. You can do that with your favorite podcasting app. Stitcher or SoundCloud or iTunes or whatever it is that you use. It's not that hard to do; it's just the press of a button so what are you waiting for, go do it.

Plus, if you really like us you can rate us. There's all these nifty little stars. You can pick five of them and give them to us and that would be really delightful. You can tell your friends and if you don't want to just go shout at the rooftops, you can actually do that electronically by sharing this podcast with your fellow potential listeners to it.

Anyway, without no further ado, Daniel, I want to kick this off.

Daniel: Thank you so much. The parashah we're going to be discussing today is Parashat Pinchas. One of the stories in Parashat Pinchas is the story of bnot Tzelafchad.

The Story of B'not Tzelafchad

The five daughters of this man, Zelophehad, who died in the desert and his daughters were worried about being, sort of, disenfranchised and not being able to inherit land. Because, at that point, in the Torah it's implied that the laws are that only male children can inherit land and therefore since Zelophehad did not have any male heirs the land would go to some sort of distant relative.

Rabbi Fohrman: In other words, just so that we understand, the issue of the daughters of Zelophehad actually wasn't just that these young women felt that they weren't going to get any inheritance because that's really no different from any woman at the time. They're particular position is that they are the sole children of their father. So their father doesn't have a male heir. That means, essentially, that they're entire household is, sort of, disappearing from the map at least in terms of inheritance in the Land of Israel. That's really the claim that they're going to press.

Daniel: Exactly. Now, they take this claim to Moses and they ask him to do something about it. Let me ask you a question. Based on the track record of the Children of Israel so far in the desert, when the press claims or when they make requests how does God usually respond?

Rabbi Fohrman: It feels like a trick question.

Daniel: Specifically in the Book of Numbers.

Rabbi Fohrman: Well, the Book of Numbers typically most claims come across as somehow illegitimate and in denial. Although some are accepted. I mean, the claim of Korah, of course, is rejected, but the claim of the people to send spies is accepted. It may be a disaster, but it feels like there may have been a request for spies depending on how you see the various biblical texts driving with each other and that was accepted. But certainly you don't have a great record of people making legitimate claims and being listened to.

Daniel: Great. There's a lot in the Book of Numbers about people making people making requests, as you said, seem to be illegitimate and God very often gets angry, there are lots of punishments, fires and what have you. And how about here, in the story of the daughters of Zelophehad, how does God respond?

Rabbi Fohrman: This seems to be one of the bright exceptions, right? This is a case where God actually almost joyfully accepts their request. Moses comes and puts this request to God and God comes back with "kein bnot Tzelafchad dovrot," the daughter of Zelophehad are speaking correctly. You shall surely give to them what it is that they're asking for. So a ringing affirmation is the claim.

Daniel: Right and fascinatingly not only is this a localized acceptance, but actually their claim has been codified into law.

Rabbi Fohrman: Yup. They become the basis for this halachic principle which gets ensconced forever more for the last 3,000 years that land can pass to a female daughter. Sons get precedence, but there is no such thing as getting disinherited if you have female daughters.

Daniel: Now, I think this is a little bit of an extreme case, the ringing endorsement that God gives to this request. I think there's actually one other time in the Book of Numbers where we have, sort of, a similar ringing endorsement from God. Where a request even actually ends of getting codified into law. Any idea what it is?

Rabbi Fohrman: Oh, Daniel, you're playing our favorite game with us again. Where have we heard these words before? I do and I think it's not just the generalities, but it's the particularities of the language too. It really, really seems like a double story or two stories that are supposed to overlay on each other.

The other example of this is the story of Pesach Sheini, the second Pesach. Daniel, why don't you tell our listeners about it?

Pesach Sheni

Daniel: Sure. Okay, so back in Numbers, Chapter 9, we have the story about the bringing of the korban Pesach, the Passover offering and how there was a small group of people who were ritually impure and were thus unable to bring that offering. They went to Moses and, just like the daughters Zelophehad, they said hey, you know, we're going to left out of this. We don't want to be left out. Can you help us work something out?

Rabbi Fohrman: By the way, Daniel, the real corner piece here and I use corner piece colloquially for those who've been around the block with me. Sometimes I'll use these jigsaw puzzle analogies for connecting these two pieces of text and a corner piece in a puzzle is the piece that you know where it belongs even without reference to other pieces. It's just, you know where it goes, it's a corner piece.

Here, too, even if you weren't aware that in general these things were connected, there's a particular word which is so striking. There's the lama yigara or the lama nigara question. This is really what both of these claimants ask for. In the words of the daughters of Zelophehad, "lamah yigara sheim avinu m'toch mishpachto," why should the name of our father be lessened, sort of be depleted. It's a very unusual Hebrew language.

Daniel: Great and you find the exact same term in the story, in Numbers 9, where the people who were impure say "anachnu ta'im b'nefesh adam," we are impure, we have touched a dead body, "lamah nigara l'vilti hakriv et korban Hashem," why should we be lessened or left out and be unable to bring this offering to God.

Rabbi Fohrman: Exactly. In both cases, that's the opening gambit of the claimant of those making this request. So you have the lamah nigara language. Why should we lose out?

Daniel: Right and you also have the fact that God accepts their request and then even codifies it into law.

Rabbi Fohrman: And also the sense that the law is somehow unclear before this, right? That there's an ambiguity in the law in both cases. It requires human beings to step forward and clarify things through case law. Case law presented as it were to God Himself. In both cases the request is presented to God and in both cases God is affirmative. We talked about that great affirmation in the case of the daughters of Zelophehad.

In the case of the Pesach Sheini, again, you have this new law that's promulgated for generations. "Ish ish ki yihiyeh tamei lanefesh," if a person finds himself impure, unable to offer the Passover offering when they're supposed to have, which is in the month of Nissan, then 30 days later in the second month, they're able to offer that offering basically exactly a month later and they do it according to the same laws.

So the setup and the structure of both of these stories is the same and the language in important ways is the same.

Daniel: Great. So if we have these linguistic similarities and these structural similarities so the Torah seems to be suggesting that there's an important theme or commonality between these two stories.

Rabbi Fohrman: And yet at face value these stories couldn't be more different. What would the story of Pesach Sheini, this seemingly abstruse law regarding offerings have to do with the laws of inheriting the land? But, Daniel, one thing comes to mind and I'll just throw it off your direction. Which is that before the people come into the Land, in the Book of Joshua, to inherit their land collectively, what do they all stop and do?

Daniel: Bris Milah.

Rabbi Fohrman: They do milah, a circumcision, but then immediately after that dot, dot, dot drumroll, please. They all offer the --

Daniel: The korban Pesach.

Rabbi Fohrman: Yup. They offer the Passover offering and it's the first time they're actually in the Land, they're eating from the produce of the Land, they're offering the Passover offering and they're about to conquer Jericho. They're on the outskirts of Jericho which is going to be the beginning, so to speak, of the collective inheritance of the Land. So there seems to be something about inheriting the Land and offering the Passover offering that seems to be fundamentally, you know, connected to one another. So these two stories are starting to converge a little bit.

Daniel: It sounds like you have an idea about why these two things would be connected.

Rabbi Fohrman: Well, I'm just kind of thinking out loud. That's the beginning of an idea. I have a little bit more of an idea and I'm happy to mention it, but, Daniel, you want me to go first or you go first?

Daniel: No, you go first. Absolutely, you go first.

Rabbi Fohrman: I mean, the only thing I would say is that perhaps we're talking about, sort of, two entrance tickets into nationhood over here, in some kind of way. I don't have the idea fully fleshed out, but back in the day when we took our first year parashah there was a wonderful series on the laws of tzora'at (leprosy). Tzora'at is always one of these things -- leprosy -- that seems so far removed from our understanding. Yet, if you look carefully at the language, the language also echoes the language of Pesach and of the Pesach offering.

I basically developed some theories there and you can go back to those videos and watch them along with their epilogues. They're our first year parashah at alephbeta.org. So feel free to go take a look all you listeners or watcher out there. But the theory, if I recall, that emerged from there is that the Passover offering seems to be a very unusual thing. It seems to have an unusual function within the rubric of halachah. It seems to be literally an entrance ticket into nationhood.

The argument, I think, I made there was that we all, sort of, have two parts to our persona. One of those parts is we feel more strongly maybe in this world and that is our individual self. Right? America is great for its celebration of rugged individualism and individualism taken too far can lead to, you know, the triumph of the ego. The ego when it triumphs doesn't make us feel good, if all we are as individuals, it make us feel lowly. It makes us feel cut off. We can celebrate our triumphs. The triumph of rugged individualism.

However, what do we have at the end of the day when we're cut off and painfully alone?

Daniel: Rabbi Fohrman that reminds me of a -- there's a book that came out. I believe it was called Habits of the Heart, which was a study of development of individualism in different forms in America. One of the interviewees they had was this woman named Sheila who was explaining how she viewed her religion. It was, sort of, a very personal -- a very individualistic kind of experience where she took the things that are meaningful to her and left out the things that were not meaningful to her. She, sort of, decided to call if Sheila-ism.

I remember I once heard someone speaking and saying that thank God her name wasn't Judy.

Rabbi Fohrman: Yeah, I suppose so. So when all you are as an individual off by your lonesome self you can do things that seem very meaningful, but yet they're very, very lonely. I can speak to you this personally. You know, I'm here in the office crazily enough on the day that my daughter, thank God, is going to be getting married in the afternoon.

Daniel: Mazel tov (congratulations) about that, by the way.

Rabbi Fohrman: Thank you very much. It's a thrilling, really overwhelming event. I mean, walking down the aisle is going to feel like a complete out of body experience. You know, it's funny because you know you go to these weddings and I'm not such a wedding goer, but when it's your own kid it feels like the most meaningful thing in the world. You realize that it actually makes a difference when people show up. You think, what does it make a difference when people show up? I'm happy my daughter's getting married. But there's something about communal celebration. There's something about not doing this alone, about doing this with others and having others there that is just a very important part of the joy and the experience and you couldn't imagine just doing this alone. You want your friends around you.

Daniel: So Rabbi Fohrman, how does this link back up to inheritance and the Passover offering?

Rabbi Fohrman: Daniel, I'm glad you brought that up. What I'm driving at here is that there's another part of our personas which is our communal selves. Which is to say, and this is a very subtle point, but it's not just that there's thing called community and I'm a part of it. It's different. It's that there's these two parts of me. Right, there's me as an individual and then there's another version of me, sort of a communal me; a part of me as community without ego boundaries, just part of a nation.

In this world, we somehow balance those two and put our ego lives together with our communal lives and somehow have to work that tightrope. It's like there's these two parts of yourself. My argument was then that in the laws of leprosy one of those parts of you die, the communal-self dies, so to speak, while the individual self continues to live and the challenge of leprosy is to resuscitate the communal self and you do it through a re-enactment of the Passover offering. The Passover offering seems to be that entrance ticket into our communal selves so maybe inheritance is something like that.

In other words, these girls, right, what they're asking for really is for their family to be part of this, perhaps, communal self. This would lead, sort of, to maybe a somewhat different understanding than we normally have of nachalah. We normally think of nachalah, we don't really think of inheritance as a triumph of the rugged individual ego. Right? This is mine this thing and here's my land. This is my place in the world.

It seems like a triumph of the individual, but I wonder, Daniel, if what we're seeing possibly is that nachalah is more important for the communal self than it is for the individual self. In as much as an inheritance in the Land of Israel is a communal thing. When you have an inheritance you're part of a nation that has an inheritance. It's not so significant that you as an individual get to plant your flag in this place and say here was Daniel Loewenstein. What's important is that your family gets to be part of something so much larger.

You know, if you think about land, land itself is so much larger. Land outlasts us. Land makes the ego seem silly. It makes the individual seem laughable. You're going to die and you're going to get buried in the land. The land will not last you. You can't even hold it. It's bigger than you. It holds you.

So land is the thing that laughs at our individual selves and when we think we're owning it and claiming it for ourselves an individual, we're really becoming part of something so much larger than us. The land in terms of the physical land that we're owning, but also land is a synonym for nation. Right? We're part of the land, part of our people, part of our --

Daniel: And also part of our families and maybe that's why the daughter of Zelophehad play so much of an emphasis not on wanting a piece of land, but rather on wanting to make sure that the name of their father isn't diminished.

Rabbi Fohrman: Right. Look at that language. "Lamah yigara sheim avinu m'toch mishpachto," why should the name of our father be diminished from among his larger family? You know, look at that language. It's not just so much why doesn't our father's name live on in perpetuity as an individual. It's that how come he can't be a part of something larger in perpetuity. Part of the family that has its stake as part of the nation.

Maybe this is a celebration of the individual lasting through its connection with community in both cases; in Passover and in here. So those are --

Daniel: It's fascinating. So it sounds like what you're suggesting that the reason possibly for God's ringing endorsement of the request both to be able participate in the Passover offering and to be able to participate in inheritance of land is because of their special significance as signifiers of participation in nationhood.

Rabbi Fohrman: Yeah. It's a willingness of the personal ego to lay itself down and say I am only meaningful if I'm part of something larger. It's really interesting that you bring that up; that notion of God's ringing endorsement. That these would be the things that God would endorse and maybe it says something about Divine values. It seems to me that, you know, maybe I mentioned to you this world before and I said that our ego boundaries are here in this world.

Daniel: Yeah, what did you mean by that?

Rabbi Fohrman: What I meant by that cryptic comment was the following. It feels to me -- now I can't tell you because nobody's been there and back -- but one of the great mysteries is --

Daniel: Except for Bilbo Baggins.

Rabbi Fohrman: That's right. Wasn't that the name of his book, There and Back? There and Back Again. There you go The Lord of the Rings fans. But nobody's really been there and back. Nobody's been to the next world and come back so we really don't know what it's like. But if I had to guess what the next world is really like, how it's different from this world, I would suppose that it's a world where oneness predominates. This world is a one where separateness predominates; that world is a world where oneness predominates.

Let me explain what I mean by that. This world is a world where we, kind of, do things and build things and in that kind of world things need to be tidy and they need to be ordered and they need to be separate and distinct from each other. One of the deepest aspects of that order is the existence of our individual selves felt as individual selves. The notion that you are just you, Daniel Loewenstein and you're circumscribed in time and space and you only exist where you exist. You only exist when you exist.

Daniel: I wouldn't be able to know who I was if I couldn't tell myself apart from you.

Rabbi Fohrman: Yeah and so you're whole identity is built upon this fragmentation. This sense that you are cut off and fragmented and fundamentally alone. God actually looks at the very first human kind in this world and, nebach, tragically says "lo tov heyot adam l'vado," it's not good to be so alone. But that was the very first person with an individual set of boundaries.

Somehow it seems to me that that's not the way things really are. That's a construction for this world, an artificial world. There's another world that pre-exists this world. It's God's domain. In God's domain there's another rule and the rule is the rule of God, "Hashem echad," God is one. In that world oneness predominates rather than separation predominating.

Daniel: So, I think, if I'm understanding where you're going with this the reason God was so happy to facilitate these requests is because they were actually moving in the direction away from individuality and towards a greater sense of oneness with other.

Rabbi Fohrman: Yeah, denial of ego which is that, you know, you have to be a separate self in this world to get things done, but it does have its drawbacks. When the human being can lay down their individuality and stand for something larger than themselves that is partaking a little bit of the deliciousness of God's own world, God's own values.

Therefore, God is all too happy to say hey, you want to be part of the nation that's so important to you, you feel so terrible, you missed it. Absolutely. Let's make a way for that to happen. Hey, you feel bad that you don't have the land, but not because it's a triumph of your individual selves, but it's because your father, you want him to be part of something larger forever. That's amazing. Let's find a way for that to happen. That's such a great idea.

When people can collaborate with God to do that, God is, like, okay. Let's do this. We'll promulgate laws forever in order to be able to do this. It's a triumph of God's values which we don't really see in this world.

In other words, it's so fascinating. It feels to me like, Daniel, if I asked you like at the end of the day, you know, what do you want to achieve in this life and what do we think about our goals? We so often think about them in terms of what we can individually accomplish, but then the goals become so much larger when we think about what we can contribute to other people's lives.

Let me ask you this question, Daniel. At the end of the day, imagine you can have two kinds of achievements at the end of your life. One achievement where Daniel Loewenstein would be remembered forever. Forever. Everyone forever would know about Daniel Loewenstein, but Daniel Loewenstein would not have done anything for anyone else. Right? He would be billionaire Daniel Loewenstein who made it to the top of Fortune 500 and built his tall skyscrapers and became president of the United States. But he never actually did anything with that. All he did was he lived for himself. And he would be remembered forever because of that.

Or Daniel, another possibility. A possibility that you became deeply involved in making life better for the world. In making the world a better place to live and you managed to achieve that and you achieve deep and lasting significance in that. And there are thousands and thousands of people who are better off because of you, but no one knows your name and at the end of this no one remembers it was you, but that's your legacy. That you were able to become part of this. Which of those two would you rather have after 120 year?

Daniel: I think that's a very important question and intuitively I would hope that we all would prefer the latter.

Rabbi Fohrman: Although, living in an ego based world it's hard to say that, right? Because it's no, I do want to be remembered. Because that's what it means to live with an ego. That's what it means to live in a separate world. So it's so hard to get yourself there, really, but if God says if that's what you're doing, if you want to come there in this world I'm totally on your side. Let's make it happen.

Daniel: Rabbi Fohrman that's a really, really fascinating theory to explain this connection. I had a different theory. I don't actually think that they're incompatible. What struck me as fascinating was the placements of our two stories.

Again, just to remind all our listener, we had the one story about the Passover offering and the people who were unable to participate and requested to be able to participate in some way, back in Number, Chapter 9. Then all the way in Chapter 27 we have the request of the daughters of Zelophehad to be able to inherit their father's land, in the Land of Israel.

So what I find fascinating about the placement of these stories, if you think about it, is they sort of form bookends to the quote, unquote dark times in the Book of Numbers. Two chapter later from the story of the Passover offering, in Chapter 11, you have the story of the Mit'onenim, the complainers and from there things go downhill. With the people who request the meats and then there's the plague and then the spies and Korah and --

Rabbi Fohrman: Disaster upon disaster upon disaster.

Daniel: -- disaster upon disaster. You know, sort of wrapping up with the daughter of Moab and Midian and the plague that is stopped by Phineas and then just about right after that happens in Chapter 27 we have this lovely story of people requesting land.

Rabbi Fohrman: So what you're suggesting is is that there's a kind of sandwich. These terrible things in the middle, but there are these two bookends, these bright stories and the bright stories both have these common themes. The Pesach Sheini story and this daughters of Zelophehad story of these two people venturing a request tentatively to God. A request that's granted that gives them what it is that they're seeking.

Daniel: Right and what struck me about these stories which we called attention to, is that word nigara or yigara. Why should we be diminished or, in a certain sense, why should we be left out? What I think is fascinating, and let me know what you think about this theory, is this sort of contrast in terms of the way the people who were impure and the daughters of Zelophehad seem to be relating to God's vision of, you know, what's good versus everyone else in the middle.

What I mean to say is the people who were impure they seem to be saying this Passover offering thing it's really cool. We love the idea of celebrating our redemption and we wish we were a part of it. And the daughters of Zelophehad, similarly, seem to be saying, we value the Land of Israel and we want to be a part of it. The requests seem to be coming from a really good place. Like, you were saying before, they're sort of legitimate requests.

I think maybe the Book of Numbers might be telling us that whatever, sort of, slip and fall the Nation of Israel had in the desert where they started relating to God in this very petty way, asking Him for different requests they had, testing Him and testing Him there. Originally, they were better than that. Originally, when there were opportunities to be close with Him and to fulfill His commandments then if you were left out of that you wanted to be a part of it.

Then the thing happened in the middle, but finally they got back to where they were supposed to be. They got back to that good place where if they were left out of something then they wanted to be a part of it for the right reasons and they were asking because we don't want to lose a chance to settle in the Land of Israel. Right? We want to be a part of Your nation fully. We want to execute Your vision in the right way.

Maybe, what it's showing is number one this contrast of making requests of God for selfish reasons versus for selfless reasons and number two sort of is the story arc of saying the Nation of Israel was doing okay and then they started going through the wilderness and disaster struck. Then, finally, at the end of that 40-year period when they're about to go into the Land of Israel they finally have made it back again.

Rabbi Fohrman: There and back again one more time.

Daniel: One more time.

Rabbi Fohrman: One more time, going back again. It's an interesting theory. So what you're suggesting is take the ideas of which we were talking about before and give them historical context by seeing them as bookends for some other requests that were darker. If you think about those darker request, you're right to point out that in those disastrous stories they really all have to do with requests or most of them do.

The Mit'onenim are people who are requesting without even knowing what they're requesting. If you look at that language, hit'avu ta'avah, right? Which is weird. They had this desire. Desire for what; it doesn't even say. They desired something that was nameless. That they couldn't even put their finger on.

Then there's all these other questions after that. We want meat. We don't like the mannah. We want regular bread. We want spies. We want to go back to Egypt. We want to break off from the community. And you're right, Daniel, that so many of those requests the opposite of them are really in the daughters of Zelophehad and in the Passover offering.

Because what's the Passover offering? We don't want to go back to Egypt. We celebrate our redemption from Egypt and we celebrate that and we celebrate that God took us out. We're going forward and we're not going backward. And we're willing to take possession of the Land. People who died in the desert died because they wanted ultimately to go back to Egypt. No, we're willing to go forward. We want to go forward. We celebrate the ability to take possession of the Land.

If you think of that hit'avu ta'avah, that nameless desire, I wonder if that also circles back to that ego point. It always struck me as strange, Daniel, that the beginning of the Mit'onenim, the beginning of the disaster, right after Pesach Sheini that language of hit'avu ta'avah. The people had this desire and there's no direct object there. It's not clear what the desire was and it always struck me as nameless desire. It was desire for the sake of desire.

I think if you think deeply, Daniel, about what a nameless desire means, desire for the sake or desire or you just say no, I won't. I want something and I don't know what I want, but darn it I'm mad. Then that is basically the corruption of the ego par excellence. That's me saying no, there's a me here. I don't even know what the me wants. It's not about the car that I want. It's not about the money that I want. It's the me who wants.

Daniel: It's just about the ascertain that there's a me and I want it to be recognized.

Rabbi Fohrman: That's right. There's a me darn it and you're not recognizing me and then trying to pin it on something. That I need this. I need that. That I'm a needer (sic). That is the beginning of the end. Then everything else that happens is just an expression of one or the other and the no, of take care of me, take care of me, take care of me. I want to be recognized and you don't feel accepted for your you.

I'm saying, if you can just let go of that and just it's not always about you. If you can understand that and get into a little bit of ego transcendence, getting beyond yourself, then you can actually start living a happy life. Then you can actually be wonderful and then God says, yeah, let's do that. And these two stories are the bookends to that and maybe it really is there and back again.

You know, the last tragic good thing that happened was that moment of ego transcendence when the people said let's celebrate this offering. Let's find a way to celebrate this offering.

At the end of this whole thing, as they prepare to go into the Land of Israel, after a terrible string of failure there's this happy note, this hopeful note with the daughters of Zelophehad that come and say yes, we look forward to taking possession of the Land. It's not even for us. It's not even about what we're going to have. It's not even about our needs. It's about our father and it's about our father being part of something larger and about our house being part of something larger. We want to be part of something larger.

Daniel: So Rabbi Fohrman, I think, what we came up with was really one theory that the Passover offering and inheriting the Land are both ways of signaling that you are letting go of your own individualism and your own ego and participating in something larger than yourself. Possibly, the reason that God would be so eager to exceed to those requests would be because God Himself views the world as being better when people are larger than themselves and part of something greater when everything is unified, so to speak.

Which is difficult for people, because people tend to want to be individuals and assert their individualism and part of the challenge of living is to find a way to move beyond that.

Rabbi Fohrman: Yeah and to find that balance; to realize that I am an individual for the time being. You know, it's funny I'll just end off with this note. In Yizkor we pray that our loved ones are part of tzror hachaim, the bundle of life, the bond life. Think of like how un-individual that is, right, but to be part of something larger, this great celebration of life in the next world. Where we think the next world is death, but that life somehow is there and if you can just be part of it. In this world we don't experience our lives quite that way. We're much more separate, but to be able to reach beyond our separateness gives us a taste of that World to Come, in some kind of way. Maybe these people were reaching out towards that as they were reaching towards Israel and leaving away Egypt.

By the way, it's interesting even the word Mitzrayim. Think about what the word really means. Think about the middle of that word. Tza'ar, narrow, bordered, cut off as opposed to reach beyond that sense of narrowness.

So Daniel, let's leave it here. I really appreciate those thoughts. They're fascinating. I love doing these podcasts because, you know, I've seen this connections before, but never really synthesized them in any satisfying way. I really appreciate the chance to do that in real time with you here.

Daniel: Me, too. Thank you so much and, Rabbi Fohrman, congratulations on the wedding tonight.

Rabbi Fohrman: Oh, thank you so much. I really appreciate it. Daniel, I look forward to dancing with you there and with virtually with all you people out there at Aleph Beta land. So this is Rabbi David Fohrman for Daniel Loewenstein saying good-bye, but not before you subscribe to this podcast and send us those five star ratings, guys. Come on. Just do it. We're really, really happy to have you aboard. I look forward to seeing you next week. Have a good week. Shabbat shalom. Bye-bye.

Read More