The twelve tribes of Israel were such mighty warriors that one shudders at the thought of them bickering over a piece of beachfront real estate.
Fortunately, such a possibility is precluded by the passage in this week’s Torah reading (Numbers 26:55–56) which describes the procedure for the division of the Holy Land.
The land was divided by lottery: the names of the twelve tribes were written down and placed in one box, and the coordinates of the twelve territories into which the land was divided was placed in a second box. Then, pairs of lots—one from each box—were drawn. A Temple priest was there to prophesy each pick, ensuring faith in the lottery’s divine accuracy. To top it off, the lottery tickets themselves miraculously announced each pairing. No one questioned the results.
Secure in their mission, the tribes set forth to settle the land with gusto. The Jew destined for the mountains climbed to great heights; the Jew in the forest felled mighty trees; the Jew in the valley brought forth fine fruit; the Jew near the sea sailed in search of distant trade.
A similar lottery is administered to the soul before leaving heaven and coming down to this world. Each soul is paired with a particular “parcel of land,” a unique destiny, a lot in life. The match is divinely ordained.
Sometimes (particularly when we hit the rough spots in our lives) we may lose faith in the lottery’s divine accuracy. Our gusto may flag. This week’s Torah portion reminds us that our soul is on a divine mission with a unique destiny to fulfill—to settle and develop a particular “parcel of land” with acts of goodness and kindness. The knowledge that this is a match made in heaven fuels our confidence, commitment and excitement in tackling our portion in life.