It's told that the famed "tzaddik of Jerusalem," Rabbi Aryeh Levin (1885-1969), once accompanied his wife to a city clinic. "My wife's foot is hurting us," he explained to the doctor who received them.

More on this story later.

Three ways to acquire a home:

Method #1: Make a list of your needs: neighborhood, schools, commute, number of beds/baths, closet space, architectural style, etc. Figure out what your price range is. Find a house that fits your needs/capabilities profile (this may take 20 years). Buy it.

Method #2: Hang a map on the wall. Throw a dart at the map. Say to yourself: This shall be my home, not because it "fits" me in any way, but because I chose it. Buy it, whether or not you can afford it.

Method #3: Inherit a home from your father.

Three ways to get married:

Method #1: Make a list of what you're looking for in a spouse: physical attraction, emotional chemistry, common beliefs, interests and life-plans. When you find someone who fits your life, marry him/her.

Method #2: Decide that this is you partner in life. Make that decision the most important thing to you — more important than how he or she meets your expectations of what your s/he should be. It goes without saying that you will then find yourself married to the wisest, kindest and most beautiful person in the world.

Method #3: Stop thinking in terms of "my wife" or "my husband." You are a single entity. You're not in this marriage — you are this marriage (refer to story above).

Three ways to acquire a people to fulfill your Grand Plan (this part applies only if you're G‑d):

Method #1: Find a person who is kind, generous, wise, committed, and is of strong faith. Tap this person — let's say his name is Abraham — on the shoulder and say to him: "Abraham, I've been watching you for the last 75 years. I like what you're doing. I want your descendents to fulfill my grand plan for creation. Start teaching them the way of G‑d and prepare them for the trials and travails that are in store for them (that's to galvanize all those positive qualities you'll be imparting to them). I'll be back with more detailed instructions."

Method #2: Choose a people as your own. Say to them: "You are my choice. So from now on, regardless of whether you deserve it or not, regardless of whether you're capable or not, you are my people." Which will obviously empower them to be deserving of your choice and impart to them the capability to carry out their mission.

Method #3: Put a piece of yourself in their souls. Make them an extension of your very being.

As described in this week's parshah (Numbers 26:52-57), each of the 600,000 heads of household amongst the Children of Israel received a "portion," a "lot" and an "inheritance" in the Holy Land. We're talking about the same piece of land, but the Torah uses all three designations, which describe different, even contradictory, relationships between the land and its owner.

1) Portion (chelek) implies a logical apportionment, in which your share fits your needs and qualities. A more populous family got a larger estate than a less populous one. The seafaring merchants of Zebulun received their portion on the Mediterranean coast, the shepherds of Reuben in the grasslands east of the Jordan, and the olive growers of Asher in the Galilee hills.

2) Lot (goral) implies a supra-rational allotment. Names are written on scraps of parchment and pulled out of a hat. A plot of land is yours for no reason other than the fact that it has been decided that it's yours.

3) Inheritance (yerushah) implies an intrinsic connection between the land and the owner; it's not something you have acquired — either because it fits your needs and capabilities ("portion") or by the power of supra-rational choice ("lot") — but something that's yours by virtue of who and what you are.

In Chassidic teaching, the "portion of the land" allotted to and inherited by each of the 600,000 "general souls" of Israel represents the "portion in the world" that is given to each and every one of us. When a soul comes down into this world, it's given a body, a family, and an array of talents, resources and potentials; this is its "portion in the world" to utilize and develop in fulfillment of its mission in life. What this means is that everything in life can be related to as a "portion," a "lot" or an "inheritance"; everything we do can be accomplished on either of these three levels of involvement and connection.

Actually, the three "methods" are not three parallel paths, but three stages in the development of a relationship. No one (at least no one I know) buys a home by throwing a dart at a map. We start by following the logical formula of needs and capabilities. But once we move into our home and start living in it, we form a deeper attachment. At a certain point, the original reasons for which we acquired it become, if not irrelevant, quite besides the point. It's no longer ours merely in the sense that it fits our needs; it's ours because we choose to make it our home. Eventually, we graduate to the third level, on which our home becomes ours in an even deeper way — an integral part of our identity, an extension of our very selves.

The same with marriage. We usually start by choosing a mate for all the usual reasons. Some marriages never progress beyond this point, which may be the reason why so many marriages fail — our needs change, and our perception of how another person fits into our life also changes. The marriages that endure are those in which we accept each other with the supra-rational choice exemplified by the "lot" — a choice that says: this is my partner in life, beyond all whys and becauses. Finally, there are those exemplary marriages in which there occurs a true unity of ego and identity: "My wife's foot hurts us."

And so it is in our relationship with G‑d. Abraham fit the bill, and it was his virtues and qualities that made him G‑d's beloved. Then, at the Giving of the Torah, we became G‑d's chosen people — a choice that supersedes virtue and deservedness. Finally, the prophets speak of a future, the Era of Moshiach, in which our innate, quintessential bond with G‑d will come to light.