Thursday, July 8, 2010

Matot-Masei: The Eternal Gift

God's ancient promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to give the Land of Israel to their descendants took on a practical tone as the Torah detailed the borders of this inheritance:
"This is the land that you will inherit..." (Num. 34:2)
The Midrash connects this verse with a parallel phrase in Devarim - "This is the land I made an oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob saying, 'I will give it to your descendants'" (Deut 34:4). The Midrash says:
"The Holy One showed Moses everything that would happen in the future. Each generation and its leaders, each generation and its scholars."
Why did God show Moses what would happen in the future? How is this connected to fulfilling God's promise to give the Land of Israel to the Jewish people?


The Generous Employer

David worked for many years in a distant land, earning money for his family. When he felt he had saved up enough, David began the long journey home.

But during the trip home, tragedy struck. David was not careful enough, and all of the money he had earned over the years was stolen during one of his overnight stays. This was a catastrophe; all those years of work were lost! And David had no legal claim against his former employer, who had paid him in full.

Nonetheless, David was not completely disheartened. Over the years, he and his employer had been very close. David has seen proof of this closeness before he had left. His employer had informed him, after handing over his wages, "I guarantee the sum of money that you earned over the years for your family. If something should happen to you on the way home, just come back to me and I will give you the entire sum again."


God's Gift of Eretz Yisrael

God promised the Patriarchs that their descendants would inherit the Land of Israel. Yet the Patriarchs were worried. Abraham asked, "How will I know that I will inherit it?" Maybe my descendants will not be worthy and will be expelled from the Land?

Therefore God promised them, like the generous employer in the parable, "I will not forsake you until I have done that which I promised to you" (Gen. 28:15). Even if I have given the Land to your descendants and they have lost it, I will not forsake you.  I will give them the Land once again.


(Adapted from Mishlei Yaakov, p. 377)