Inheritance and succession are two important themes of this week’s Torah portion.
As Moses prepares to divide the Land between the different tribes and families of Israel he is petitioned by the daughters of Zelophehad to embrace a more egalitarian model of inheritance law. Their father has died and left behind no male heirs and, not wanting their “father’s name to be lost,” plea for “a hereditary holding among their father’s kinsmen”. At this time it was common for property to be transferred exclusively from father to son which makes the introduction of this new law, uttered by God no less, all the more special. Inheritance relates to more than just property though and can also be the passing on of characteristics, values and pride from one generation to the next.
Just a couple of paragraphs later we learn that Joshua, son of Nun, is to succeed Moses as leader of the Jewish people as they journey into the Land of Israel. At this point in the narrative it is difficult not to feel a little sad for Moses – a man who has lived in servitude of God and dedicated his entire being to helping the Jewish people grow and flourish – and now whose time as leader begins to come to an end. However, we celebrate the appointment of Joshua and the knowledge that the Israelites will continue to develop and prosper to even greater heights under his guidance. Like inheritance, succession is about the coming or passing of one person or thing to another. Perhaps this is why they are mentioned so closely together in our Torah portion.
Inheritance and succession can bring about mixed emotions; Sadness that someone or something great has come to an end but also joy for the great moments passed and enjoyed together and the exciting potential that the future holds.
As my time as Head of Education at Alyth comes to an end I am thankful for the great experiences we have shared together and all that I have learnt during my time here and know that this community will continue to go from strength to strength. I look forward to continuing my relationship with the Alyth and my wife, Robin and my daughter, Aviva, join me in wishing you and your family L’CHAYIM TOVIM U’L’SHALOM -”a good life and peace!”
This article originally appeared as Alyth Synagogue’s ‘Thought for the Week’ and coincided with my final week as there as Head of Education.