In Bamidbar 27:1 we read of the daughters of Tzelofchad, who requested an inheritance. I heard an oral teaching that this was the same person (Tzelofchad) as mentioned in Bamidbar 15:32, who was guilty of collecting sticks on Shabbat, which resulted in his stoning. Although I have not been able to find a source connecting these two. Can someone confirm or refute?


The pasuk in Bamidbar 27:3 tells us that כִּֽי־בְחֶטְא֣וֹ מֵ֔ת, Tzlofchad died because of his own sin. Rashi there, quoting the Gemarah in Shabbat 96b and 97a, says that

אלא בחטאו לבדו מת, ולא החטיא את אחרים עמו. ר' עקיבא אומר מקושש עצים היה. ור' שמעון אומר מן המעפילים היה: Tzlofchad died by his own sin, and he didn't cause other to sin with him. Rabbi Akiva says he was the chopper of trees. Rabbi Shimon says he was from those who ascended

Though the pasuk never mentions Tzlofchad in Bamidbar 15:32, Rabbi Akiva says that Tzlofchad was the Mikoshes Aitzim, chopper of trees. His reasoning is that the pasuk says that Tzlofchad died because of his own sin in the Midbar, and this is the only individual sin in the Torah while Bnei Yisrael were in the Midbar.

The opinion of Rabbi Shimon is that Tzlofchad was part of the Ma'apilim, the people who wanted to go up to Eretz Yisrael after the Meraglim (spies) came back, and, despite the warnings of Moshe, went up and died. His reasoning is that if you take the gematria (numerical value) of the word Tzlofchad, you get 212, which is the same gematriua of the word Va'ya'a'pilu, the word the pasuk (Bamidbar 14:44) uses when describing the actions of the ma'apilim.

So to answer your question, there are reasons to believe that the Mekoshesh Aitzim was Tzlofchad, and that this was the "individual sin" from which he died.

I hope this helps!!!

  • That was the answer I was looking for. Jul 10 '17 at 21:48

The Daas Zekinin (15:32) brings that the Shabbat stick gatherer is Tzelafchad by saying that the gematria of עצי"ם with the bet of ביו"ם equates the same as Tzelafchad.

  • 1
    You know what is funny? In Yiddish, בוים (boym) means tree. :)
    – ezra
    Jul 11 '17 at 4:33
  • @ezra what's even funnier is how Yiddish can make an anagram out of a Hebrew word.
    – DanF
    Jul 11 '17 at 15:44

This is a dispute between Rabbi Akiva and Rav Yehuda ben Beteira mentioned in Talmud Bavli Shabbat 96b - 97a.

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