Weekly Torah Portion – The Blessings Of Birthright
Parshat Pinchas: Numbers 25:10-30:1; Jeremiah 1:1-2:3.
No matter how far a Jew may wander, each of us remains deeply connected to the Land of Israel. Geography notwithstanding, the Jew is in Israel and Israel is within the Jew.
What ties us so deeply to the Holy Land? In Parshat Pinchas, we read of three factors that determined how the land was apportioned:
As the progeny of Abraham and Sarah, every Jew inherited a part of the Promised Land. Then a specific portion was given to each family, adjusted to fit the size of the family. Lastly, a lottery determined the geographical location of each family’s portion.
These three steps reflect the multi-tiered relationship we have with our land.
Our portion was determined based on family size, a logical determination.
The lottery rises above our specific needs, executed by God and His choosing, transcending our characteristics.
The third relationship is the deepest. Israel is our inheritance, which belongs to every Jew. Regardless of the size of family or level of knowledge, an inheritance is a birthright, an inner union, an essential bond.
Our soul connection to Israel reflects our deep connection with God. We, therefore, see that our relationship with God has three modalities, reflecting the inheritance, apportionment and the lottery.
In the morning service we say: Ashrenu mah tov chalkenu (how fortunate are we, how goodly is our portion) umah na’im gorelanu (and how sweet is our lot), umah yafah yerushatenu (and how beautiful is our inheritance). Note the same three words: portion, lot and inheritance. Let’s examine them.
Just like the portion of Israel was based on family size, our portion of Torah reflects our level of engagement with Torah and mitzvah observance.
The second layer of our soul connection transcends our limitations. It is executed by God and by His choosing, similar to a lottery, which is entirely controlled by God. He chose to give us the Torah and mitzvot and allow us to connect to Him.
The third and deepest connection is Torah as our inheritance. A baby can inherit a fortune, by the virtue of who he or she is, and we are connected to God and His Torah at birth. It’s written into the code of our souls, imprinted into every fiber of our being.
As we enter the Three Weeks, when we mourn the destruction of Jerusalem and exile of our people, we are reminded that despite our wanderings, we remain deeply connected to His land through the intrinsic connection our souls have with Him.
This connection empowers us to make a positive impact in ways we can scarcely imagine.
Whenever the Jews of Israel faced a crisis, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, of righteous memory, would encourage Jews everywhere to increase their Jewish observance, light Shabbat candles, install kosher mezuzot, observe kashrut, study Torah, etc.
The Rebbe keenly understood that a mitzvah reaches deep into the core of our being, to the place where we are one with each other and one with Israel, so that the physical distance is of no consequence. When a Jewish girl lights Shabbat candles in Michigan, it helps her brothers and sisters in Israel.
This is what brought Israel blessings and miracles in the past; this can repeat itself again. Think of ways that you can reach deep into yourself, to the place where you are Jewish simply because it is your birthright, into your personal portion of Israel as it resides in your soul and be sure to express it in physical action.
Rabbi Kasriel Shemtov is spiritual director of The Shul in West Bloomfield.