Thursday, July 28, 2016

Inheritances, Past and Future (Portion Pinchas)

Tonight, Hillary Rodham Clinton will speak to the nation, accepting the Democratic nomination for president of the United States.

I have at times been a reluctant supporter of Sec. Clinton.  In many ways, I would have preferred a progressive with a stronger populist streak, more critical of Wall Street and the Democratic party establishment.

But tonight I celebrate this nomination.  This is an historic occasion, and I am eager to see the election of America’s first female president.  Tonight I celebrate the fact that my three daughters might aspire to the highest levels of leadership just as much as my son.  And tonight I celebrate the promise of hope over fear, of the Democrats’ vision of America as a land of expanding possibility rather than Donald Trump and his party’s dark and narrow dystopia.  Thank you, Hillary Clinton, for your leadership here.

And the timing is uncannily in sync with the Jewish year.  This Shabbat, we will read the story of five brave women—Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah and Tirzah—the daughters of Zelophehad, who came to Moses with a quiet but revolutionary request: let us inherit land in Canaan, just like the men.  God responds by heartily approving their request, noting: “They speak justly.”  The great contemporary commentator Avivah Zornberg adds: “Before a word has been spoken, the narrative has set these sisters in a world that holds no obvious place for them. . . The sisters’ fine timing is expressed in their speaking against the grain of common prejudice.  Here, then, to speak at the right moment is to speak precisely at the wrong moment.  It is to speak without the support of conventional frameworks; to speak at the particular historical moment when one’s speech will resound uncannily—when it may create change.”

May Hillary Rodham Clinton’s speech tonight, and her actions in the coming weeks and months, echo that of these five biblical foremothers, courageously paving the way for justice, for hope, for compassion, for change.

I’m with her.