Religious desires that emanate from deep spiritual feelings are not always appropriate, despite their worthy source. Sometimes people sincerely want to participate in a ritual that they cannot. My old friend R. David Silverberg offered a fantastic interpretation on last week’s Torah reading demonstrating this point, which he later learned was previously offered by the Chasam Sofer (link – see Tuesday). Comparing the similar language of the request of those impure to participate in Pesach sacrifice on the one hand and that of Tzelofchad’s daughters to obtain a portion in the land of Israel, R. Silverberg notes the differing response:
However, there is one important difference between the two stories, one which may perhaps frame the incident of the temei’im in a much different perspective. When Moshe brought the question of Tzelofchad’s daughters to God, God began his response with a firm “endorsement” of their claim: “Kein benot Tzelofchad doverot” (“Tzelofchad’s daughters speak correctly” – 27:7). He explicitly affirms the validity of their argument that they should be given their father’s estate. When it comes to pesach sheni, by contrast, we find no such recognition that the petitioners’ claim was valid. In fact, if we read their request carefully, we see that it was not granted, at least not fully…
The message, perhaps, that emerges from this contrast is that when people sincerely come forward with a petition of “lama nigara,” seeking inclusion in an area where they have previously excluded, the answer depends on the circumstances. Sometimes, as in the case of Tzelofchad’s daughters, the request will meet with halakhic approval, but in other occasions, such as the instance of the temei’im, the petition will be denied. There is no single, blanket answer to the question of “lama nigara”; each case must be carefully examined and assessed in light of established halakhic principles and norms, among other relevant factors, to determine whether or not the request could or should be granted.
See his full essay here: link – Tuesday.