Tzelofhad’s Daughters: A Feminist Poem About the Western Wall

Israel as Home

This thought provoking poem by progressive Jewish feminist, Abby Caplin, draws a parallel between the biblical Daughters of Tzelofhad and the modern Women of the Wall. Both groups fight for gender equality within Judaism; the biblical women who argued that they should be able to inherit their father’s land, and the modern organization that works to attain equality for women at the Western Wall. A critical commentary on today’s leadership, the poet highlights how Moses turned to God for answers, ultimately granting the biblical women their just request, while the current political and religious leadership is resistant to changing the status quo. This poem was shared on, a project of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College that provides a platform for creating new Jewish practices.

Tzelofhad’s Daughters

The five daughters of Tzelofhad,
Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, Tirtzah
Strong bible women, sisters,
Stood together, sand between toes,
Toe to toe with their male elders,
Just in sight of the Promised Land.

Our father died and left no sons.
Give us our inheritance! They insisted.
Moses, confused, did not know what to do,
Except to simply ask
God, who said,
The plea is just!
Give them their share!
And it was made so.
In the Torah, it is written.

Now the great great-granddaughters of centuries of
Daughters of Tzelofhad, grown women with daughters,
And granddaughters of their own
Stand before the stones of
The Western Wall, what remains of the great Temple.
These are Women of the Wall.
They tender prayers to God
And plead their case.
Give us our share, our place before the Wall,
To pray freely, as full Jews,
This is our inheritance!

But those who rule do not ask God what is just,
Will not think to listen for
God’s answer, instead
Allow the pitch of chairs,
Prayer books ripped from mothers’ hands,
Allow the din of curses raining down
Upon the daughters of the hot desert sands.

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