"... If a man will die and he has no son, you shall cause his inheritance
to pass over to his daughter" (27:8)
The Sefer Hachinuch, in discussing the laws of inheritance, rules as
follows: Although the Torah ascribes directives in dealing with inheritance,
there is no obligation for a parent to leave an inheritance for a child.
This imperative is only found in regard to the nations of the world.
It is within every Jewish parent's nature to be concerned for his child's
financial well-being, with special emphasis placed upon insuring his child's
security even after the parent's death. The Chinuch's ruling seems contrary
to the innate character of the Jew.
A similar question can be asked on the ruling of the Talmud. The Talmud
states that a parent need only be concerned for the financial well-being of
his child until the age of six.2 How can we fathom a Jewish
parent allowing his child to be financially independent at the age of six?
The attribute of kindness defines a Jew's nature. Therefore, there is never
any doubt that a Jewish parent will assume responsibility for his six year-
old child. The Torah is sending a message to the child to appreciate all
that his parents are doing for him, for their financial assistance is done
out of a sense of compassion, rather than obligation. Additionally,
understanding his parents' motivation for supporting him, will strengthen
the child's love for his parents. Similarly, the Torah not requiring parents
to leave an inheritance instills in the children the understanding that what
they received from their parents was motivated solely by love, rather than
1. Mitzva 400 2.Kesubos 49b
Same Act Different Motives
"The name of the slain Israelite man who was slain with the Midianitess was
Zimri son of Salu, leader of a father's house of the Simeonites"(25:14)
The Torah records that after Shechem the son of Chamor violated Dina the
daughter of Yaakov, Shimon and Levi massacred the entire city of Shechem.
1 On his death bed, Yaakov delivers a scathing condemnation to
them for their misplaced anger.2 Furthermore, Yaakov makes a
prophetic reference to two future conspiracies that would occur as a result
of Shimon and Levi's actions. Yaakov prays for his name not to be associated
with these insurrections, and indeed we find in this week's parsha, when
relating Zimri's genealogy, the verse refers to him as Zimri ben Salu from
the tribe of Shimon, omitting any mention of Yaakov. Similarly, in reference
to Korach, the genealogy ends with Levi, omitting the name of Yaakov.
3 Why would the same action taken by both Shimon and Levi result
in two very different conspiracies, Zimri's act of publicly cohabiting with
an idol worshipper and Korach's rebellion against Moshe's leadership?
The Midrash teaches that although Shimon and Levi acted in unison, "lo natlu
eitza zeh mizeh" - "they did not seek council from one another".4
The Midrash is implying that while their actions might have been the same,
it is possible that their motivations were different. The Torah records two
different reasons why the brothers were outraged at the crime perpetrated
against their sister.5 One reason is "Nevalah asah v'yisroel
lishkav es bas Yaakov" - "An outrage had been committed in Israel by lying
with the daughter of Yaakov", emphasizing the defilement of the sanctity of
a Bas Yisroel, daughter of Israel caused by consorting with an idol
worshipper.6 The second reason given is "Hakezonah ya'aseh es
achoseinu" - "Should our sister be treated as a harlot", highlighting their
personal outrage at the rape of their sister.7
From the insurrections which occurred involving Shimon and Levi's offspring,
the motivating factor for each of their actions can be deduced. Korach's
argument was that "Kulam kedoshim" - "They are all holy." "Maduah tisnasu al
kahal Hashem" - "Why do you exalt yourselves over the nation of Hashem?"
8 Korach felt that all of Bnei Yisroel have an exalted status,
and no individual had the right to elevate himself or his family over the
rest of the nation. Clearly, Korach, who was from the tribe of Levi sensed
the unique status of Bnei Yisroel, and it was this sensitivity which
motivated Levi to act against Shechem.
Zimri, the Midrash teaches, was the son of Shimon and Dina; Shimon married
Dina after the incident in Shechem.9 Zimri's consorting with an
idol worshipper shows his insensitivity to the defilement that such an act.
brings upon Bnei Yisroel. If this act is connected to his father's actions
in Shechem, it can be deduced that Shimon's primary outrage was on a
personal level, not at the defilement of the sanctity of Israel. A further
proof of this is the fact that the Torah refers to Zimri, Shimon's son as
Shaul ben Hakena'anis, the son of the Canaanite woman.10 Chazal
explain that although his parents were Shimon and Dina, Dina is referred to
as the Canaanite since she was defiled by the Canaanite, Shechem.
11 The fact that the Torah records what appears to be a
derogatory title for Shimon's son must indicate that the Torah is censuring
Shimon for having married a woman who was defiled by a Canaanite. Clearly,
Shimon's sense of saving his sister from shame was greater than his
sensitivity to the defilement created by a Bas Yisroel consorting with an