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Inheritance of our forefathers

Thursday, 10 July, 2014 - 4:28 pm

 

Dear Friends,

 

In February 1969, when Prime Minister Levi Eshkol passed away and Golda Meir was chosen to replace him, Golda Meir suggested to Menachem Begin to remain a member of the government, as he had been since the eve of the Six Day War, two years before that. Begin agreed, but only on condition that Golda add in her swearing-in speech the words “The inheritance of our forefathers was liberated,” referring to the areas that were liberated in the Six Day War. Begin, a man of words and semantics, attributed great importance to the term “inheritance of our forefathers.” It was important for him to emphasize the source of our right to the land and of its strength.

 

In this week’s Parasha, Parashat Pinchas, Hashem starts to fulfill his well-known promise to Avraham Avinu: “To your descendants I will give this land,” and he tells Moshe how to, practically-speaking, apportion the land to the Jewish People. “To these the land will be divided as an inheritance… to the many you will give more… and to the few you will give less… only by lot shall the land be divided” (Bamidbar 26:52).

 

In other words, beyond the general promise that the Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish People, there is also the personal connection of each and every Jew to his part in the land. There are two levels in this: a. the logical division, according to human common sense – giving more to those tribes that are more numerous, and less to those that are less so; b. division by lots, in other words, a Divine decision as to who will receive what within the boundaries of the Promised Land. “Only by lot shall the land be divided”. This casting of lots, we must know, was not just an ordinary lottery, but it was a decision of the Urim and Tumim – different letters in the stones of the Choshen (breastplate of the High Priest) that would light up and, combined, make up words, telling Elazar the Priest how to divide up the land.

 

In wonderful Divine Providence, this week’s Parasha is even more relevant than usual. Our bitter enemies are doing everything in order to chase us out of “the inheritance of our forefathers”, but they don’t know how strong we are. We are strong, because Avraham was promised the land for all of the Jewish People, and this week, the Parasha speaks about dividing up the land to individuals, by way of a Divine casting of lots.

 

Our enemies shoot missiles at us, but they don’t know what our Sages say in Tractate Brachot (5a): “Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai says: Three gifts the Holy One, Blessed be He, gave to Israel, and all of them were given by way of suffering. These are: Torah and the Land of Israel and the Next World.” We would gladly forego the suffering that come with the gift called the Land of Israel, but when there is suffering, we are strong enough to stand firm in the face of it.

 

And there is also what it says in Devarim, “A Land which Hashem, your G-d, seeks out; the eyes of Hashem, your G-d are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the year’s end.” But this, I think, our enemies are already aware of. For if not, how can they explain the fact that hundreds of missiles have been fired, and almost no one, Thank G-d, has been hurt?

Our brethren, who are living in the inheritance of our forefathers, we are proud of you and we are praying for you. Be strong!

 

Shabbat Shalom,

 

Zalmen Wishedski

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