Two members of the community once came to a famous Rabbi for a Din Torah. As they sat around the table before they started to argue their case, they made general conversation. At one point one of the gentlemen said to the Rabbi that when the community was considering him to be its Rabbi, he, this gentleman was among his greatest backers. When the Rabbi heard this he immediately recused himself from judging the case. He felt he no longer can be an unbiased judge.
The Rabbi referred to this week’s Portion as support for his action. The daughters of Zelaphechad, we are told, came to Moshe with a claim that they should be entitled to inherit their father who had died and only left five daughters and no sons. Until then it was assumed that only sons inherit and not daughters. When there are no sons the inheritance should go to the deceased’s brother.
Before arguing their case they stated that their father had died VEHU LO HAYA BETOCH HA’EDAH…BE’ADAT KORACH, “but he was not among the assembly…the assembly of Korach.” (Num. 27,3) They were saying that their father did not support the rebellion against Moshe. The Torah immediately tells us that Moshe brought their claim before Hashem. Certainly Moshe could have judged their case as he did with all the other problems that were brought before him. However, when the daughters told him that their father did not support the rebellion against him, he no longer felt he can be an unbiased judge.
This story of the Rabbi and the endorsement he brought from Moshe indicates how Rabbis dealt with a Din Torah that came to them. They were honest and were extremely careful not to be prejudiced in any way.