Shirah is so lucky!” Rochel Leah said to her mother as she walked into the house. She had just returned from a good-bye party her friends had made for Shirah, who was going to spend the summer in Eretz Yisrael with her grandparents. “I wish I could go to Eretz Yisrael, too.”

“Well, you visited Uncle Mendel and Aunt Chaya in California last summer,” said her sister Bassie.

“Yes, but going to Eretz Yisrael is much more special,” sighed Rochel Leah.

Eretz Yisrael is very special,” agreed the girls’ mother. “In this week’s parshah, Pinchas, we read some stories that took place as the Jewish people were getting ready to enter the Holy Land.”

“I know one of them,” declared Rochel Leah. “I even wrote an essay on it for our Chumash teacher at the end of last year. We were supposed to pick a character in the Chumash whom we really looked up to and liked. I chose the daughters of Tzelofchod who loved Eretz Yisrael so much that they insisted that they also deserved a portion in the Land. They got it, too!”

“Another episode is the goral — the lottery,” added Bassie. “Moshe prepared twelve pieces of parchment which had different territories of Eretz Yisrael inscribed on them. Each nassi — head of the tribe — picked out one piece of parchment, and that was the territory that was given to that tribe.”

“Girls,” said their mother, “did you know that a spectacular miracle happened as the lottery was drawn?”

“I remember learning that the piece of parchment called out its boundary and its tribe as it was chosen,” said Bassie.

“Yes. Are you wondering why HaShem made such a miracle? Doesn’t it seem as if there was no need for this miracle? After all, all the information was written on the parchment. Why did the parchment have to speak as well? The reason is that this miracle teaches us how special Eretz Yisrael is and how much HaShem cares about our Holy Land. It was an extra miracle for a land which is extra special.”

“You know, girls, Eretz Yisrael is not just a land with boundaries we can see on the map. It is a place where HaShem’s holiness is more openly than anywhere else. Do you know what that means? It means that Shirah isn’t the only one who can be in Eretz Yisrael this summer.

“You mean, you’re going to send us, Mommy?”

“Probably not this summer. But listen to this story. A chossid once asked the Tzemach Tzedek if he should move to Eretz Yisrael, where he would devote his life to learning Torah and serving HaShem. The Tzemach Tzedek replied, “Make this place Eretz Yisrael!”

“What the Tzemach Tzedek was saying was that when our lives are filled with Torah and mitzvos, wherever we go is like Eretz Yisrael: wherever we go, we are drawing down HaShem’s holiness into our world. Living our lives this way will make Mashiach come ever so much faster, and then we will all be in the actual land.”

(Adapted from Sichos Shabbos Parshas Pinchas, 5751)