"This is the land which shall fall to you as an inheritance." (Num. 34:2)

Allegorically, the Land of Israel represents the physical world in general; the fact that we are obligated to perform certain commandments only within its borders alludes to the fact that we can only perform G‑d's commandments and elevate material reality while our souls are in this world, that is, during our physical lifetime. This opportunity does not exist before the soul descends into the body and after it leaves it, even though the soul is alive before birth and lives on after death.

By delineating the boundaries of the Land of Israel - allegorically, demarcating the sphere within which we can perform G‑d's commandments and elevate the material world - the Torah underscores the value we should attach to this opportunity, which we are granted only during our lives on earth.

Relative to the beautiful existence the soul enjoys in its celestial abode before birth, the difficult and challenging life it must lead in this world seems indeed to be a "fall" from a former height. But by utilizing all our powers to capitalize on the unique opportunity that is ours only in This World, we not only help G‑d achieve His purpose in Creation and fulfill the purpose of our existence, but also vastly enhance our ability to absorb the divine revelations that await us in the afterlife.

Adapted from Likutei Sichot, vol. 13, pp. 126-127; Tanya ch. 37; Likutei Torah 3:42b
© 2001 Chabad of California/www.LAchumash.org