July 20, 2020

Amanda Berman on Numbers 27:1 -- "The Biblical Origins of the Zioness"

Amanda Berman joins Mark today for a dynamic conversation regarding Numbers 27:1 and its profound significance throughout the centuries. Amanda is the Founder and Executive Director of the ‘Zioness Movement’, an initiative which empowers and activates Zionists on the progressive left to stand proudly in social justice spaces as Jews and Zionists. She has been a civil rights attorney fighting anti-Semitism legally, spearheading such groundbreaking initiatives as the international action against Kuwait Airways for its discrimination against Israeli nationals, and the dual cases against San Francisco State University for its constitutional and civil rights violations against Jewish and Israeli students and community members. As you will discover, Amanda is a highly intelligent, articulate, and passionate speaker whose commitment to the advancement and protection of the Jewish people and the Zionist community shines forth brilliantly during today’s discussion.

Amanda begins this discussion by summarizing the story, looking at the significance of the daughters’ names within the story, and explaining the two powerful reasons why they bring their complaint to the leadership. She and Mark then analyze the daughters’ argument and discuss the logic of equality that is introduced during the story as well as the models of progressive change which are learned from it. They finish by noting the importance of significant incremental change both within this story and, indeed, throughout history, and Amanda shares the lessons about mankind which she has learned through her life and work. Today’s story is one of historic social transformation whose impact reverberates through society still today, providing yet another powerful example of the timeless value and wisdom of the Torah.

Episode Highlights:

Amanda’s summary of the story The significance of the daughters’ names The two powerful reasons why they bring a complaint to the leadership An analysis of their argument Establishing the logic of equality The models of progressive change learned from this story Significant incremental change The lessons about mankind that Amanda has learned


“They want to be part of the Zionist story. They’re women who believe that they should have the same rights as men as the Jews were settling in the land of Israel.”

“I think they also believed that even if they lived in a patriarchal society…I think that they believed that God wouldn’t see it that way, that God would say that women are equal.”

“If justice is to be served, we have to be able to inherit. We have to be able to pass on our father’s tradition.”

“God…unambiguously rules in favor of the five daughters.”

“This just might be the greatest single leap forward in a moment that has ever occurred in progressive thought.”

“They had the courage and they were welcome litigants before the bench.”

“I found myself, you know, less involved in the domestic issues that I cared about and I realized that it was because of this new manifestation of the anti-Semitism that existed there.”

“Making people aware that you can be both a social justice activist…and you can be a proud Zionist…that is a groundbreaking thing for some people.”

Numbers 27:1 The daughters of Zelophehad, of Manassite family—son of Hepher son of Gilead son of Machir son of Manasseh son of Joseph—came forward. The names of the daughters were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. https://www.sefaria.org/Numbers.27.1?lang=bi&with=all&lang2=en


The Zioness homepage: _https://zioness.org/

The Rabbi’s Husband homepage: http://therabbishusband.com/

Mark’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/markgerson?lang=en

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