By Rabbi Y. Dov Krakowski
In this week’s Sedra we read about how the land of Eretz-Yisroel will be apportioned among the various tribes after the Conquest. In the midst of this the Torah interjects the issue raised by Bnos Tzelofchod (the daughters of Tzelofchod). Their father had died, leaving no sons who could inherit his assigned portion in the Land of Israel. They were now suggesting to Moshe that perhaps they could inherit their father’s portion. Moshe Rabeinu in turn relays their question to Hashem, who responds that they should marry into their own tribe, thereby allowing them to inherit their father’s portion in the Land while also keeping that parcel of land within its appropriate Sheivet. While this anecdote is an important one, the Torah still deviates from the subject at hand by inserting apparently extraneous detail into the retelling of this story: The Torah tells us not only that these righteous women were the daughters of Tzelofchod, but that Tzelofchod was the son of Mochir, who was the son of Menashe, who was the son of Yosef. It seems a bit puzzling that the Torah feels it necessary to insert their entire lineage in this passage.
Rashi addresses this issue and explains that the retelling of the entire lineage is meant as a praise of the daughters of Tzelofchod that should be traced back to Yosef; a praise for Yosef as well. Rashi explains that just like Eretz-Yisroel was so dear to Yosef Hatzadik that he requested that Klal-Yisroel bring back his remains there when it would be redeemed from Egypt, so too his ‘granddaughters’ had a special appreciation for the Land and wanted to make sure that their father’s inheritance in it would not be lost.
The difficulty with this Rashi is that Yosef was neither their father nor even their grandfather for them to have known him and therefore perhaps to have been influenced by him. He was in reality but a rather distant forefather. How was it that this influenced their appreciation for Eretz-Yisroel?
Yosef Hatzadik had asked that his remains should be brought up from Egypt. Moshe Rabeinu had carried Yosef’s bones the whole time that Klal-Yisroel was in the wilderness. Bnos-Tzelofchod had grown up witnessing this request of their ancestor being fulfilled. Thus while they didn’t have a direct influence from Yosef they did have a legacy from him.
While the actions we take are not always witnessed by others, they nevertheless always have an impact, they create a certain atmosphere. This atmosphere could be a virtuous one or, God forbid, a negative one. Our actions certainly have an impact, some a smaller one, some a greater one, but they all can have an influence for eternity.