One of the unique occurrences of this week’s parsha (Pinchas) is the division of the Land of Israel among the twelve tribes.  This was not a logical nor even an emotional process.  Nowhere does the Torah tell us that any tribe was particularly suited to any part of the land (aside from Gad, Reuven and half of Menashe, who requested the Golan Hts for their cattle – but that was outside of the biblical boundaries of Israel).  Nor do we see that any tribe preferred any particular part of the land for itself.  Instead, the land was divided by way of a “lottery” – “Rather, according to the lottery shall you divide the land” – that was the command from God (Num 26:55).

And yet, we cannot say that the process was merely incidental.  Moshe wrote down the areas of the land on pieces of paper, and when the tribal leaders reached their hands into the pot, the appropriate pieces of paper “jumped” into their hands.   This indicates that there was an intimate relationship between the areas of the land and the tribes themselves.

The other place in the Torah that speaks of a goral, or “lottery,” is in the Talmud and in the Zohar.  The Talmud asks, “With what mitzvah was your father more careful?” – that is, what commandment did he strive to fulfill with more attention to detail?  We all have mitzvoth that appeal to us more than others – one person may be more careful about tzitzit, another about tzedako, another about Shabbat or tefillin – but in any case we all have a special connection with a particular mitzvah that we take more pains to perform carefully.  How do we form that connection?  The Zohar explains that it is like a “lottery.”  How the soul forms a special connection with a specific mitzvah is something that occurs from above – it is beyond logic or emotion – it is in the realm of goral, or “lottery.”

Not only the Jewish soul, but also the land of Israel itself is associated with mitzvoth.  Every part of the land is associated with a specific mitzvah.  And that is explains the specific connection of each tribe with a part of Israel, and why it was necessary to choose the area via a goral.  The association of the land of Israel with a particular mitzvah – just like the association of the soul with a mitzvah – is neither intellectual or emotional.  It is beyond reason, and that is why the tribes had to come together on specific parts of the land – “their” part of the land – in order to form the best connection with God above.

Today, we no longer live within tribes associated with specific areas of the land of Israel.  Everybody lives wherever it suits him.  Even so, there is a specific mitzvah that is specially connected with each and every Jew.  How do we know what it is?  It is the mitzvah that is difficult for us to perform.  It is the mitzvah that we just don’t want to do, that is beyond us.  Like a goral – we cannot fathom the mitzvah; we cannot wrap our head or our heart around it, and therefore it is hard for us to do.  But, if we decide nevertheless to do this mitzvah that is most associated with our soul, then we find ourselves lifted above, to new high levels that were previously beyond us – because the connection with Him is beyond intellect or emotion.

How, then do we do the mitzvah, if it is beyond us?  Like Pinchas, we have to just “jump in.”  We have to recognize the opportunity, and “just do it.”  “Bust a move,” as the vernacular goes…take the bull by the horns and do the mitzvah.  Then, the waters part and we go through the Reed Sea…

For more detail, go to

From Likutei Sichot of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, vol. 2, Pp 342-348

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