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This D'var Torah was delivered on 11 July 2009 at the Dorshei Derekh minyan of the Germantown Jewish Centre in Philadelphia. The complete text is attached after the following excerpt... Jewish and Christian feminists love the story of the daughters of Tzelophehad and how they and God re-write Torah to give them an inheritance in the Promised Land. But I think that their story is properly understood over and against the execution - or is it murder? Or martyrdom? - of Cozbi bat Tzur and Zimri ben Salu.
Zimri and Cozbi have violated a taboo - not intermarriage, I argue - but consentual intermarriage. Unlike the people condemned in the beginning of the chapter in the previous parshah, Cozbi and Zimri are not accused of worshipping other gods. Those people are Moabite; she is Midianite - like Moshe Rabbenu's wife Zipporah and father-in-law, Yitro. (I'll come back to the Midianite/Moabite confusion.) The newly weds moved in with his family and approached the most holy space - perhaps Cozbi would have sworn an oath to the God of Israel as did Ruth - wait she was Moabite. Cozbi was impaled before she could convert; her husband was killed beside her.
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