The Torah portion of Pinchas begins with G-d saying to Moshe:
"Pinchas... has turned My wrath away from the Jewish people by displaying anger among them on My behalf."
Pinchas' conduct involved self-sacrifice, for his deed aroused the wrath of the tribe of Shimon, whose members sought to kill him.
After the Torah concludes the tale of Pinchas, it speaks about the division of Eretz Yisrael and the appointment of Yehoshua to lead the Jewish people into the Promised Land. The portion concludes with a section on offerings, a number of which could be brought only when the Jews were in Eretz Yisrael.
Since all the above is part of the portion titled Pinchas, it follows that the entrance to Eretz Yisrael and all related matters are somehow connected to the spiritual service of Pinchas.
What is the connection?
Our Rabbis tell us that, were it not for the iniquities of the Jews, their first entry into Eretz Yisrael would have triggered the Redemption. Although this did not actually take place, in some respects the first entry resembled the future Redemption.
This similarity helps us understand the relationship between Pinchas and the entry into Eretz Yisrael, for our Sages state: "Pinchas is Eliyahu," and Eliyahu is the one who will bring the tidings of Redemption.
The novel aspect of the future Redemption lies in the fact that at that time, G-dliness will be fully revealed. Nowadays, G-dliness is clothed in the material world, and manifest only in a contracted manner. In times to come, however, a greater level of Divine illumination will be found within this world - a level not subject to contraction or limitation.
Man was created after the fashion of Above. Just as there are essential and concealed levels of G-dliness, so too, man is a composite of the essential aspect of his soul and its revealed (and limited) levels. In order for man to draw down the essence of G-dliness, it is necessary for him to draw on his soul's essence, which transcends the limited and revealed levels.
Thus, our Sages inform us that repentance is a prerequisite for redemption. This is so, not only because repentance eradicates previous sins, but also because it stems from the soul's essence, for which reason redemption must be prefaced by repentance.
Another aspect of spiritual service that emanates from the soul's essence is mesirus nefesh, self-sacrifice, wherein a person is ready to serve G-d beyond the limitations of his rational faculties.
This is why this quality is prevalent to a greater degree in the generations just before Moshiach's coming. For realizing the soul's essence is a necessary preparation to the realization of the G-dly essence in Messianic times.
There are two levels of mesirus nefesh:
- Mesirus nefesh limited to the strict letter of the law - if the Torah commands mesirus nefesh, he will do so; if not, he won't.
- The essential aspect of mesirus nefesh, wherein a person is ready to give his life without any intellectual considerations.
It was this latter type of mesirus nefesh that was displayed by Pinchas, inasmuch as his act of self-sacrifice was not obligatory.
Herein lies the connection between Pinchas and the entrance of the Jewish people into Eretz Yisrael - a precursor to redemption, which comes about through the essential service of mesirus nefesh, revealing as it does the essence of G-dliness that will be manifest in the times of Moshiach.
Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. IV, pp. 1070-1073
- (Back to text) Bamidbar 25:11-12.
- (Back to text) See Sifri and Tanchuma, end of Parshas Balak; Sanhedrin 82b.
- (Back to text) See Menachos 45b; Zevachim 111a.
- (Back to text) Nedarim 22b. See also Shmos Rabbah, beginning of ch. 32.
- (Back to text) Targum Yonasan, Va'eira 6:18; Zohar, Vol. II, p. 190a; Pirkei d'Rebbe Eliezer, ch. 47; Yalkut Shimoni, beginning of Pinchas.
- (Back to text) Tanya ch. 37.
- (Back to text) See Bereishis 1:27.
- (Back to text) Sanhedrin 97b. See also Likkutei Torah, Seitzei, p. 40d.
- (Back to text) See Likkutei Torah, Acharei, p. 26c.
- (Back to text) See Sanhedrin, 81b, 82a; Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat, 425:4.
In the reading of Pinchas, G-d commands Moshe to divide Eretz Yisrael among the Jewish people.
There were three distinct aspects to this division:
- Eretz Yisrael was an inheritance for the Jewish people;
- the land was logically divided - a larger tribe received a larger inheritance, etc.;
- the division was by lot.
Why were these three aspects necessary?
Eretz Yisrael, as "G-d's inheritance," was given to the Jewish people, for they too are deemed to be "G-d's inheritance." As our sages state: "G-d said: 'Let the Jewish people who have come to My portion inherit the land that has come to My portion.' "
Thus, giving Eretz Yisrael to the Jews emphasizes their connection to G-d.
Since this is a triple connection, as we say in the morning prayers: "How good is our portion, how pleasant our lot, and how beautiful our heritage," it follows that the giving of Eretz Yisrael also involved portion, lot and heritage.
The difference between "portion" and "lot" is somewhat similar to the difference between a sale and a gift. A sale is entirely dependent upon the buyer paying the seller for an object. A gift, however, springs entirely from the good will of the person who grants it, as he has no expectation of or desire for reward.
With regard to G-d's beneficence to the Jewish people, there are two manners of giving: a) that which G-d grants as remuneration for the performance of mitzvos, and b) gifts granted from G-d entirely independent of the Jews' service.
Herein lies the difference between "portion" and "lot." "Portion" refers to the connection that Jews achieve with G-d as a result of their service (similar to a sale), while "lot" refers to the fact that the Jewish people are bound to G-d simply because G-d "has chosen us among all the nations" - similar to a gift.
The doing of something entirely of one's free will, without the slightest coercion, is particularly stressed by a lot, since the person has no rational basis for his choice, but rather decides to rely entirely upon "the luck of the draw."
But even in the case of a gift that comes entirely as a result of the good graces of the giver, there is still some connection with the recipient, for a gift is given from a sense of satisfaction with the recipient. As our Rabbis say: "Had he not done something for him, he would not have given him a gift."
Then there is the third category, that of inheritance, for which the person who inherits need not do anything in order to receive his inheritance, for he stands instead of the legator. Because of the intimate connection between legator and inheritor, an inheritance passes as a matter of course.
The merit of "inheritance" over "portion" and "lot" is thus that "portion" and "lot" - similar to "sale" and "gift" - fall within the category of something being given or handed over. Inheritance, however, does not involve removing an object from the possession of the legator, for the person who inherits merely takes the place of the legator.
In spiritual terms, "portion" refers to a Jew's being bound to G-d as a result of G-d descending, as it were, to a level such that the service and merits of the Jewish people are of importance to Him.
"Lot" refers to a deeper level of connection, the Jewish people's being linked to G-d not because of any degree of service, but wholly because G-d so desired. Nevertheless, at this level as well, G-d chooses the Jewish people as they exist as an entity unto themselves, that they be bound and connected to Him.
The most profound level of unity is that of "inheritance," wherein the Jewish people are intrinsically one, as it were, with G-d - they are His "inheritors."
Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXVIII, pp. 176-180
- (Back to text) Bamidbar 26:52-56.
- (Back to text) As stated (Shmos 6:8), "I shall grant it to you as an inheritance" - "It is an inheritance unto you from your forefathers."(Bava Basra 119b.)
- (Back to text) Bamidbar ibid., verse 54 and commentary of Rashi.
- (Back to text) Shmuel I, 26:19 and commentary of Rashi, ibid.
- (Back to text) See Devarim 4:20, 9:26, 9:29, 32:9.
- (Back to text) Tanchuma, Re'eh 8. See also Bamidbar Rabbah 23:7.
- (Back to text) Siddur Tehillat HaShem, p. 17; Seder Tefillos LahaRambam at the conclusion of the book of Ahavah.
- (Back to text) See Likkutei Torah, Vayikra, p. 2b.
- (Back to text) Text of the blessing over the Torah.
- (Back to text) See Gittin 50b; Bava Basra 156a.
- (Back to text) See Tehillim 45:17; Bava Basra 159a.
- (Back to text) See Tzofnas Pa'aneiach (Dwinsk) I:18.