Parshas Masei – Dividing Up the Land

By: Shalom Olensky


This week in the Torah:

G-d delineates the borders of the Land of Israel as well as how it is to be divided into portions for each tribe: a) the bigger the tribe, the bigger the portion, and at the same time, b) miraculously, this is a division precisely matching randomly cast lots.


Since the Land of Israel is to be divided into tribal portions sensibly, why employ a miraculous casting of lots as well?


Torah is given to the Jews as a) their birthright, b) their earnings, and c) as a gift.


While Torah is to be understood, there is only so much a created being can understand of the Creator’s Torah. Truer and divine comprehension can only come as a gift from Above.


Just as a gift is only given when the benefactor feels inclined towards the recipient’s worth, so too with the gift element of Torah, it is given only after one has toiled to understand.


The Land of Israel too is a gift from G-d; “The land which G-d’s eyes are upon it from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.” (Deuteronomy 11:12) I.e., G-dliness is readily apparent in the Land of Israel. This combination of earthliness and G-dliness can only come from Above. Hence, although the Land of Israel is first divided sensibly into the tribal portions, this is followed by the same assignments being carried out by means of randomly cast lots, the results of which are preordained by G-d alone.


(Based on Likkutei Sichos Vol. 13, Masei)


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