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B"H

Shalom and Bracha!

This Shabbat we read the portion of Pinchas. Amongst the subjects that are discussed in the portion is the apportioning of the Land of Israel to the twelve tribes. The Torah (Bamidbar 26:53-56) describes what seem to be two very different divisions of the Land. At first the Torah says that the Land should be divided demographically, with the larger tribe receiving the larger portion of land. Thereafter, the Torah says that the Land must be divided by lottery. Further, the Torah states thates it is divided by the word of Hashem. Rashi, based on the Talmud, explains that Israel was divided into twelve portions. The twelve portions were written on wooden lots and mixed in a container. The names of the tribes were written on other wooden lots and mixed in another container. Elazar the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) wore the Urim and Tumim (a special garment which aided in prophecy) and announced that if a particular tribe would be picked, this would be the portion of the tribe. The leader of that tribe would then pick the lots, and by divine miracle his tribe and portion would come up. By a further miracle, the wooden lots themselves would announce the tribe and portion. Thus the division of the land was by size, lottery and prophecy.

The division of the land has an important teaching both in our attitude toward life and in our service of Hashem. Each tribe received the portion that suited them logically. Underlying this was the prophecy that this was to be their portion and the lottery. The third Lubavitcher Rebbe once told a Chossid “make here (in Russia) the Land of Israel.” We all have a portion in life. We understand how we got there and sometimes question the justice of our portion. In truth, every person was given his portion in the world by Hashem in order to perfect the part of the world that his soul was uniquely created to perfect. Each of us was endowed with unique abilities to deal with our portion. When we focus in this manner our lives gain new meaning and we attain immeasurable success.

This carries a deep lesson in our service to Hashem. Many Mitzvot are within our comprehension. It is important to realize that underlying those Mitzvot that we do understand are deeper reasons that are beyond our comprehension. We must serve Hashem not only on the level of reason but also on the levels of lottery and prophesy which transcend our understanding.

This Shabbat precedes the Three Weeks when we mourn the destruction of the Temple and intensify our prayers for it’s rebuilding. The discussion of the inheritance of the land of Israel this week gives us strength to look forward to the redemption through Moshiach when the entire land of Israel will belong exclusively to the Jewish people. This is echoed by the end of the portion which mentions the Jewish holidays. Their total number is twenty-one, paralleling the days of the three weeks. This is because when Moshiach comes the days of mourning will be transformed to days of joy and great holidays. The context of the holidays in this portion is the offerings in the Temple, which intensifies our faith and yearning for the third Temple. The Midrash teaches that Pinchas, for whom the portion is named, is the soul of Eliyahu Hanavi (Elijah the Prophet) who will herald the redemption. May we hear his announcement this Shabbat!!

   Shabbat Shalom,

 Rabbi Biggs


 
   
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