In Bamidbar 27:1 we read of the daughters of Tzelafchad, who requested an inheritance. Is this the same man (Tzelafchad) as mentioned in Bamidbar 15:32, who was guilty of collecting sticks on Shabbat, which resulted in his stoning? I realize Tzelafchad is not mentions in Bamidbar 15:32. But I heard an oral teaching that this was the same person in Bamidbar 27:1. I have not been able to find a source connecting these two. Can someone confirm or refute?
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!!!
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.
This is a dispute between Rabbi Akiva and Rav Yehuda ben Beteira mentioned in Talmud Bavli Shabbat 96b - 97a.