Perhaps one of the most striking stories of Tanach occurs in parshas Pinchas. A group of five sisters approached Moshe Rabeinu to rightfully request a portion of Eretz Yisrael. Though it is well known that chazal give our women credit where credit is due, (most famously, that in the merit of the righteous women we exited Egypt) here we are presented with nashim chakmonios - wise women, who with their love for Eretz Yisrael and their rare understanding of the Torah, brought forth their question to the entire court of Moshe. Moshe said he did not know and must seek counsel with Hashem, and the women were proven correct!
Immediately preceding the counting for nachlas ha'aretz, Hashem commanded the Jews to retain animosity towards the midyonim. This seems to be somewhat unnecessary, as the next parshah presents the mitzvah to wage war against them. What changed in the interim that caused development of the mitzvah?
The Kli Yakar (26:2) notes the curious reversal of the order of the letters 'י and 'ה , that were added to the family names in this parshah. He explains that when an איש - a man, assumes his appropriate leadership role, the 'י in his name precedes the 'ה of the אשה - a woman, and the correct spelling of the name of G-D is formed. However when man is drawn to desirously follow an inappropriate leadership of a woman, the 'י in his name follows the 'ה of the אשה. When the Jewish men responded to the call of the bnos midyon, their spiritual leadership was affected to the extent that the 'ה representing the nashim tzidkonios of our nation preceded the family names whereas the 'י representing the men followed.
It was at this point in time that the women of klal yisrael 'took the lead' as shown by the bnos Tzlafchad's wisdom, which even surpassed that of Moshe Rabeinu! [regarding this specific halachah]
It may be said then, that until the reversed roles would be corrected, Hashem did not want to command a war against midyon, since, as is well known (regarding the mitzvah of p'ru ur'vu), "war is the way of men and not the way of women". Rather Hashem commanded us to retain resentment against the midyonites, which is quite in sync with the nature of women. (see mes. nidah 31b)
Leadership is sometimes expressed in not such obvious ways. Maran R' Shmuel Berenbaum ztz"l said, that Shabbos shows its true superiority over yom tov when it offers yom tov the majority of its shmoneh esray prayer.
The Targum Yonasan states that Moshe specifically announced his need to ask Hashem the halachah, in order to teach the men of the sanhedrin not to be too prideful in the face of the people to admit being unknowledgeable.
When Moshe was not led into naturally acting as if he knew the answer to the sisters' question, but instead he admirably chose to openly admit his lack of knowledge, he reinstated the position of leadership for the men of klal yisrael. A true leader does not follow the popular vote or the expectations of the masses. Leadership is formed by unashamedly doing what is right no matter how unpopular it may be. This is an example of stiras zekainim binyan - what appears to be (self)destructive but is truthfully constructive.
Only after this did Hashem command the Jewish men to take full revenge and wage war against midyon.
Let us retain our leadership positions, not necessarily by being assertive but rather by caring for our flock and humbly doing what is correct!
Posted By KH to KollelH blog at 7/08/2010 12:38:00 AM