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Parashat Pinchas

Moses’ Leadership

While Moshe is instructing the Israelites about their allotted portions of land, the daughters of Tzelofhad approach him and ask for clarification of their status, being a family of 5 sisters. Moshe hadn’t yet dealt with an all-female sibling set and wasn’t quite sure what to do about it. But he recognized their claim as legitimate, so he immediately brought the question directly to God, who told Moshe to treat them the same as brothers. Moshe continues to impress us with his humility and willingness to say ‘I don’t know’ whenever that occurs. Indeed, our Sages taught us: “Teach your tongue to say ‘I don’t know’, lest you be caught uttering a falsehood.” (Talmud, Berakhot 4a) Equally impressive is his approach towards gender equality; Tzelofhad’s daughters were not barred from approaching Moshe, and Moshe treated their inquiry with respect and seriousness. 
 Our Sages were also impressed by Moshe’s selflessness when dealing with his impending death. We know that he didn’t want to die in the desert. He wanted to be able to enter the promised land and see it first, but God saw it fit to deny him this. Moshe’s response to being told that he was about to die was to arrange for his successor, and towards the end of our Parasha we read of Moshe placing his hands on Joshua’s head and ordaining him.

There are but two example of Moshe’s extraordinary human qualities which continue to make him the most celebrated leader of our people.