Present or Inheritance... or Both?
The fifth of the promises to the soon to be liberated nation that our parasha begins with was the promise to be brought to the Land that Hashem would give them as a morasha (inheritance) (Shemot 6:8). Commentators are sensitive to the relatively uncommon use of the word morasha, especially when it is used with the verb "to give." After all, giving applies to a present that one consciously gives to one he chooses. In contrast the halacha is that inheritance goes automatically to he who is in line for it.
One can claim that the Torah uses the verb "to give" in this context because this is not a normal inheritance. Firstly, Hashem obviously did not die. Also, His "property" is not fully divided up among a group of inheritors, so Hashem must determine what to give as an inheritance and what to not give as inheritance.
The Netivot Shalom points out that giving has different connotations than inheritance. Giving indicates a more worthy recipient. Firstly, he needs to deserve to receive it. Secondly, the Netivot Shalom demonstrates how, according to Jewish thought, the recipient is one who enjoys and appreciates that which he receives, which is not necessarily the case regarding inheritance. What he does not highlight is what if any advantages there are for morasha.
I heard from Rav Hershel Schachter shlita that morasha is not just an inheritance that one may receive but if he desires he can thereafter dispose of. Rather it is a legacy that one is required to cling to and will be connected to him even if he tries to rid himself of it. While the thing needs to be given, it is something that is not received as a simple present but as a legacy. It is also something that we receive because of our familial connection. As the pasuk (ibid.) indicates the generation that entered Eretz Yisrael did not receive the Land in its own merit. Rather, the people were the inheritors of the forefathers to whom it was promised and who received it as a gift due to their virtue.
One should note that another prominent "gift" that Bnei Yisrael received that also is called a morasha is the Torah (Devarim 33:4). Torah, of course, is not just a privilege but is a grave and permanent responsibility. Torah and Eretz Yisrael share something else. They are the only two things in this world that, according to the gemara (Berachot 5a), are given through hardship. Indeed, these are hardships that are not only worthwhile to undergo but those that we are responsible to undergo in order to live up to our legacy.
In an age when people are used to receiving presents that are expected to make our lives easier or more fun, it is important to remember that the gift of legacies that are significant beyond compare are worth the trouble they entail and dedication they require.
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