Friday, July 6, 2018

You Can Change The World

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In this week's parsha, Pinchas, we read about how the land of Israel was to be divided. Hashem said, that it must be through a lottery, "Only through a lottery should you divide the land," "According to the lottery should you divide the inheritance," "And you should inherit the land through a lottery," 

Rashi explains how the lottery was done. Israel was divided into twelve regions, and they were each written on lots. The names of each of the twelve tribes were written on lots as well. Elazar the Kohen Gadol, with the help of the Urim V'tumim, would say prophetically which tribe would be designated which region. Then the prince of the tribe would pick two lots and they would be the same as Elazar prophesied, one would say the name of the tribe, and the other would say the boundaries of the region. The lots would miraculously call out. "I, the lot of such-and-such a region, have become the inheritance to such-and-such a tribe." 

There is a rule, that Hashem doesn't do miracles for no reason. If they had Elazar's prophecy, and the lots, wasn't that enough of a confirmation that it was from Hashem? Why did the lots have to call out, "I, the lot..."? 

This question becomes stronger, when you consider the fact that the whole lottery was not a thing for itself, but rather a means to another end, the main thing was conquering and dividing the land. It seems so unnecessary to have this miracle. What does this miracle add? 

Ultimately, every Jewish person has a portion in the land. 

There is a story of the Tzemach Tzedek, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the third Rebbe of Chabad Lubavitch. A Chassid, wanted to travel to Israel, it was around the turn of the 19th century, and the journey was a very difficult one. The Rebbe said to him, "mach da eretz Yisrael," (make this place into Israel). 

This story was told by the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneerson, and being that he said it to the whole community, it means that the idea of, "make this place into Israel," applies to all of us. 

This is difficult to understand. The greatest way of doing mitzvahs, is specifically in the land of Israel, we pray towards Israel, and we pray to be able to be in Israel with the coming of Moshiach over and over again. So why should we make this place, which seems to mean in the diaspora, into Israel? 

When this story was told, there were already many Jews who were living in Israel, which means that it applies to them as well. How does one living in Israel, accomplish making their place into Israel, when they are living there already? 

The Rogechover tells us, that the preparation for a mitzvah is important and makes a difference halachically. Therefore, when a Kohen was carrying the blood of a sacrifice to sprinkle on the altar, he had to have the proper intentions, otherwise the sacrifice was invalid. Carrying it was considered an integral part of the service, even though it was merely a means to an end. 

The same is true when it comes to the preparation of any mitzvah, although it is merely a means to an end, and it is not the main goal, it also has to be done thoroughly and completely. And when you do it that way, your mitzvah will surely be at the highest level. 

Once, when the yeshiva students were with the Rebbe Rashab, the fifth Rebbe of Chabad Lubavitch, Rabbi Sholom Dovber Schneersohn. He noticed that they were rushing through the song that they would sing in preparation of a Chassidic discourse, it was obvious that they were anxious to get to the teaching. The Rebbe instead, gave an entire teaching, explaining that everything that a Jew does, he should do in a complete way, even if it is only a preparation for something. He also had a saying, "A genuine person, everything that he does, he is totally invested in." In other words, he is in the moment completely, irrespective of what he will be doing later. 

I have noticed, that great craftsmen are obsessed with preparation and rituals. They have a method that they follow and they don't skip steps. They also have a way that they organize their tools and workspace. I guess that's why they are great craftsmen. 

What does it mean to be totally invested in the moment? 

Every person has a soul, and the soul has three ways of expressing itself, thought, speech and action. 

When doing a mitzvah, there are those that are mainly done with one of the three. For example, prayer is mainly done with thought, Torah study is mainly with speech and doing acts of kindness, is mainly through action. But if one invests himself completely, he can use all his faculties, thought, speech and action in every mitzvah. 

And this is true about the preparation of a mitzvah as well. To be totally invested, is to be involved with one's whole self, thought, speech and action. 

The same is true when conquering the land, in order for it to be done right, it has to be complete. If the land isn't completely conquered, if some part of it remains in the hands of the opposition, the land remains incomplete, and there is a danger from the people who are in the unconquered territories. 

The conquering nation also has to take total ownership of the land. Meaning, that they should be able to live the way they want to, the nation has to be able to be themselves in every part of the country. 

The way Hashem set up the world, is that there has to be preparation before an action. This is true about mitzvahs as well as everything else. And the better to the preparation, the better the action or mitzvah that follows. Therefore, one should invest himself totally in the preparation. 

There are sometimes that more effort has to be put into the preparation than into what is being prepared for. For example, education, when it comes to educating our children, or for that matter, most everything one goes to school for, the training is usually more intense, than the actual future that he or she is training for. 

Being that the lottery was part of the preparation for inheriting the land, it had to be done thoroughly and completely, including thought, speech and action. There was already the thought, the intent to do the lottery, and perhaps you can include Elazar's prophecy as thought as well. The action, was the writing and the choosing of the lots. All that was missing was the speech part, by the lots calling out, "I, the lot of such-and-such a region, have become the inheritance to such-and-such a tribe," the preparation was complete, and the commandment, "Only through a lottery should you divide the land," was complete as well. Because it was the actual lot that confirmed with speech, what the division of the land was to be. 

Our purpose is symbolized, in conquering and settling of the land of Israel. To conquer and settle the land means to make it into a Jewish and holy place. A place that Hashem could call home. A home is a place that one is free to be themselves. When a person has ownership of his home, he owns every part of it and he fashions every part of it to reflect his personal taste, it takes on the atmosphere of the owner's preference. 

Our purpose is to make this world into a home for Hashem, that He can be Himself, and that every part of this world, from the highest spiritual realms to the lowest places of the physical world, should be a reflection of Him and His Torah. As Hashem said when he created mankind, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the land and conquer it." Conquering it means to make the whole world, Hashem's home. 

Perhaps this is also true for the land of Israel today. Being that we don't control the entire country and we endure danger and threat from the people in the territories that are not under our control. And even more, being that the Jewish people in Israel are not free to live Jewishly, according to the Torah and under a Torah system of government. Perhaps the idea of, "make this place into Israel," applies to people who live in Israel as well. Because although they are physically there, they do not have the totality of the land. 

According to the preparation, so goes the accomplishment. It is our work now in exile, although it is not ideal, that makes the home for Hashem. It is what brings Moshiach the completion of the purpose of existence. The exile is the preparation and the means to the era of Moshiach. Until he comes, we are in this dark and bitter exile. We have to know that every place that a person finds himself in, is ordained by Hashem, "Hashem establishes the footsteps of man." That means that we have to be invested in the moment. And what we are meant to do in every place until Moshiach comes? We are to make it into a home for Hashem, in other words, "mach da eretz Yisrael," (make this place into Israel). 

You might ask. "I am just one person in one place, how could small little me make a Difference? How can I bring Moshiach?"

When it came to the land of Israel, our sages say, "There is no one of Israel that doesn't have a part in a mountain, the lowland, the south and the valley." Even though a person might have his inheritance on a mountain, it was as if his land was everywhere, because his inheritance completed everybody else's, and his affected everyone else's. The same is with one person's work, in his or her small part of the world. When you invest yourself genuinely and completely in making your place into Israel, you effect every part of existence and you bring redemption to everybody. 

Each and everyone of us can affect the world by using their time, place and abilities to the fullest. What is beyond your abilities, is not meant for you to do. You are only meant to work with what Hashem gives you. 

I see this in my own life. Hashem place me in a very difficult situation and he took away most of my abilities. I am not perfect, but I try my best with the little I have. I learn and write Torah with my ears and eyes, I try my best to lift the spirit of Jewish people with my smile and love. And I have seen how far it reaches. 

You might not see how what you do makes a difference, but it certainly does. And when you give it your all, you will be amazed at the difference you can make. You can make your place into Israel, you can be the one who brings Moshiach. May he come soon. 

1 comment:

  1. In my view this is one of your best explanations I have ever read