This week’s Parsha, Pinhas, is packed with lists. The first is a list of tribes and their descendants. After a “plague” of indecent relations with another tribe, G-d commands Moses and Eleazar, Aaron’s son, to take a census of all the Israelites over 20 years old and their lineage. The census catalogs the descendants of each tribe. Reading these lists, it’s easy to skip over Zelophehad, son of Hepher, a member of the tribe of Menashe. Unlike the other families named in the census, Zelophehad had no sons, but he did have five daughters, Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. G-d tells Moses to divide the land among the men listed in his census, giving larger families more land and smaller families less land. Later on in the Parsha, the five daughters of Zelophehad approached Moses to ask for their father’s land. Zelophehad died and left no sons, so his land should have been redistributed among the Israelites upon his death. His five daughters asked Moses not to redistribute the land so that his name would not be forgotten. Moses, unsure of how to proceed with the situation, turned to G-d for guidance. G-d explained that the daughters of Zelophehad had a fair argument and instructed Moses to transfer their father’s land to them. Furthermore, G-d declared that if a man died, having no sons, his land would be given to his daughters. Then, G-d appointed a new leader for the Israelites, Joshua. Because Moses disobeyed G-d’s direct orders to speak to a rock, which Moses hit, Moses was not allowed to go into Israel with the Israelites, and Joshua was appointed to take Moses’s place. The Parsha ends with another list of different occasions to bring sacrifices to G-d.
Within Pinchas, there are two occasions where great leaders rose to the occasion, Joshua and the daughters of Zelophehad. They saw a problem within their community and changed it. The daughters of Zelophehad demanded their right to inherit their father’s land and by standing by their argument and being brave enough to question the leaders within their community, they were granted that right. Joshua was chosen to replace Moses, an irreplaceable leader, when Moses was stepping down. Instead of running from responsibility, Joshua led the Israelites into their homeland and became the leader they needed.
This summer, although we are scattered across the world, we can still find ways to be leaders within our Yavneh community. Whether it is leading t’filot, helping your bunk get a 10 in nikayon, or leading Birkat, there are always opportunities to be a leader at camp, but being a leader this summer may look a bit different. Being a leader this summer may mean reaching out to camp friends that you haven’t talked to since last summer or taking a few extra minutes to get to know a new camper who may not know many people at camp yet. Like the daughters of Zelophehad, recognize the problems you see within your smaller and larger communities and urge your leaders to make a change. Like Joshua, seize the opportunity you are given to be a leader for your community. Though we can not be together this summer, laughing and learning, we can still prove ourselves to be the great leaders our world needs now more than ever.