Thirty-four hundred years ago, the daughters of Zelophedhad launched the first feminist foray in the Torah. Zelophedhad, from the tribe of Manasseh, died in the wilderness leaving five daughters but no sons. The names of the daughters were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. The five daughters stood in front of Moses, Eleazar of the priest, the chieftains, and the whole assembly at the entrance of the Tabernacle, and they said:
“Our father died in the wilderness. He was not one of the faction, Korach’s faction, which banded together against the Lord, but died for his own sin; and he left no sons. Let not our father’s name be lost to his clan just because he had no son! Give us a holding among our father’s kinsmen!”
And they prevailed. God said the Moses, “The plea of Zelophedhad’s daughters is just: you should give them a hereditary holding among their father’s kinsmen, transfer their father’s share to them.”
We can imagine the courage that it took. After Korach’s rebellion, the people would have been loathe to challenge Moses, let alone God. After witnessing Miriam’s confronting Moses, the five women would have to be wary to challenge Moses, let alone God. The five daughters, nobodies, second-class citizens who were not counted in the census in the beginning of the Parashah, confronted Moses and chieftains and indeed God, and made their case.
The lesson is clear. If you believe that you are right, you can argue your cause, notwithstanding the powerful opposition arrayed against you.