Estate Records (Exert from my memoir #2)

He stood up to make his way to the bar to get us drinks touching my shoulder as he passed by. A few minutes later a glass of cold beer was sitting in front of me.  We were not strangers.  I had met him a year before through Jay who I was dating at the time and we had run into each other occasionally.  One night he asked me out and at first I reluctantly agreed.  It made me uncomfortable that he was friends with my ex.  He assured me he had not seen him in over a year.  There was one thing Scotty was good at, making women feel important.  He had used this skill to get me to agree to go out with him.  He was charming, good looking and other women wanted to date him.  So the night he asked me out I gave him my phone number.  He called me as soon as I got home to make sure I had given him the correct number.  I wondered how much of his charm was an act and how much was real.  I decided not to care.


The room around us was filled with smoke from cheap cigarettes and the smell of cheap beer permeated everything.  That night I didn’t notice, all I saw was the man sitting in front of me telling me his life story.



In this week’s Torah parsha Pinhas Moses and Aaron’s son Eleazar are asked to take a census of the Israelite people after God had sent a plague upon the Mideonite people for their trickery against Moses.  This parsha brings to light the importance of census taking, inheritance and land distribution.

The census is taken to determine the size of each tribe and the land is to be distributed based on the number of people of each tribe.  The daughters of Zelophehad came forward before Moses and explained that their father had died in the wilderness and had left no son.  They were brave determined women and asked that they be given a land holding.  Moses brought the case to the Lord, who determined their case just.  They were to be given their father’s share.  The Lord then tells Moses instructions for inheritance of property.

In the United States these practices are still carried on today.  Every 10 years in the US a census is taken.  The results are used for determining how federal funds and other resources are to be distributed based on population numbers.  This practice dates back prior to the Revolutionary War.  Census records can be viewed by the public after a period of 70 years and are available at US National Archive repositories located throughout the country.  These records can be helpful in researching one’s genealogy and family background.

The inheritance practices in Pinhas are also largely in place but can be varied based on ones final will and testament.  The daughters of Zelophehad were the first feminists mentioned in the Torah and modern women can look to their example in standing up for their rights at a time when women are beginning to see a backslide in the progress we have made over the last century.


“For the sake of His great name, the Lord will never abandon His people seeing that the Lord undertook to make you His people.” I Samuel 12:22.  


This week’s parashat Korah illustrates the importance of knowing history in order to avoid the mistakes of the past.  Korah and his people questioned why Moses and Aaron had placed themselves above the others.  Instead of trusting in God, they succumbed to the fear that they had been taken from a land flowing in milk and honey only to die in the wilderness.   This angered the Lord and the ground opened up sending Korah and his men alive into Sheol.


The problem is resolved in Prophets I Samuel.  The people of Israel were now asking for a leader and Samuel delivered to them their king Saul.  They were reminded of the past and did not make the same mistakes.


This parsha is relevant to what is going on in our society today.  The people are consumed with fear.  Fear of those who are different, fear of people being placed in positions of leadership, fear of losing power and fear of losing their status in society.  We are focusing on the wrong things.  Instead of fearing what is different in others, we could be focusing on what we have in common and how we can build upon that to make our communities thrive.  Our country is dividing itself and the only solution to the problem is to remember the mistakes of the past to better our future.