In parshat Pinchas, we read about how the Land of Israel was to be divided. G‑d said that it must be through a lottery. “And you should inherit the land through a lottery1 ... Only through a lottery should you divide the land2 ... According to the lottery should you divide the inheritance.”3

Rashi4 explains how the lottery was done. Israel was to be divided into twelve regions, each written on lots. The names of each of the twelve tribes were written on lots as well. Elazar the High Priest, with the help of the Urim V'tumim, would say prophetically which tribe would be designated which region. Then the prince of the tribe would pick two lots and they would be the same as Elazar prophesied, one announcing the name of the tribe and the other announcing the boundaries of the region. The lots would miraculously call out. "I, the lot of such-and-such a region, have become the inheritance to such-and-such a tribe."

There is a rule that G‑d doesn't do miracles for no reason.5 If they had Elazar's prophecy and the lots, wasn't that enough of a confirmation that it was from G‑d? Why did the lots have to call out, "I, the lot..."?

This question becomes stronger when you consider the fact that the whole lottery was not an entity for itself, but rather a means to another end, that of conquering and dividing the land. It seems so unnecessary to have this miracle. What does this miracle add?

You see, ultimately, every Jewish person has a portion in the land.

There is a story6 of a Chassid of the Tzemach Tzedek, who very much wanted to travel to Israel. It was in the early part of the 19th century, and the journey was a very difficult one. The Rebbe said to him, "mach doh Eretz Yisrael" (make this place into Israel”).

This story was told publically by the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn. Since he said it to the whole community, the idea to "make this place into Israel" applies to all of us.

This is difficult to understand, since the ideal way of doing mitzvot is specifically in the Land of Israel, where we pray towards Israel, and we pray to be able to be in Israel with the coming of Moshiach daily. Why then should we make “this place,” which seems to mean the diaspora, into Israel?

When this story was told, there were many Jews who were living in Israel, which means that it applies to them as well. How does one living in Israel accomplish making their place into Israel, when they are living there already?7

The Rogatchover Gaon8 explains, that the preparation for a mitzvah is important and carries halachic significance. Thus when a Kohen was carrying the blood of a sacrifice to sprinkle on the altar, he had to have the proper intentions, otherwise the sacrifice was invalid.9 Carrying it was considered an integral part of the service, even though it was merely a means to an end.

The same is true when it comes to the preparation of any mitzvah. Although it is merely a means to an end, and not the main goal, it also has to be done completely and thoroughly. And when you do it that way, your mitzvah will surely be at the highest level.

Once, when the yeshiva students were with the Rebbe Rashab, he noticed that they were rushing through the song that they would sing in preparation of a Chassidic discourse. It was obvious that they were anxious to get to the teaching. The Rebbe instead gave an entire teaching10 explaining that everything that a Jew does should be done in a complete way, even if it is only a preparation for something. He also had a saying, "A genuine person11 is totally invested into everything that he does." In other words, he is in the moment completely, irrespective of what he will be doing later.

I have noticed that great craftsmen are obsessed with preparation and rituals. They have a method that they follow without skipping any steps. They also have a way that they organize their tools and workspace. I guess that's what makes them such skilled craftsmen.

What does it mean to be totally invested in the moment?

Every person has a soul, and the soul has three ways of expressing itself: thought, speech and action.12

Some mitzvahs are done with one of the three. For example, prayer is mainly done with thought. Torah study, however, is mainly with speech, and doing acts of kindness is mainly fulfilled through action. But, if one invests himself completely, he can use all his faculties—thought, speech and action—in every mitzvah he does.

And this is true about the preparation of a mitzvah as well. To be totally invested is to be involved with one's whole self, in every thought, speech and action.

The same applies to conquering a land. In order for it to be done right, it has to be complete. If the land isn't completely conquered, if some part of it remains in the hands of the opposition, the land remains incomplete, and there is a danger from the people who are in the unconquered territories.

The conquering nation also has to take total ownership of the land and be able to live the way they want to. The nation has to be able to be themselves in every part of the country.

The way G‑d set up the world is that there has to be preparation before an action. This is true about mitzvahs as well as in everything else. And the better the preparation, the better the action or mitzvah that follows. Therefore, one should invest himself totally in the preparation.

There are some times that more effort must be put into the preparation than into what is being prepared for. For example, with regard to education, the training is usually more intense than the actual future that he or she is training for.

Since the lottery was part of the preparation for inheriting the Land, it had to be done thoroughly and completely, including the elements of thought, speech and action. There was already the thought, the intent to do the lottery, and perhaps you can include Elazar's prophecy as thought as well. The action was the writing and the choosing of the lots. By the lots calling out, "I, the lot of such-and-such a region, have become the inheritance to such-and-such a tribe," the preparation was complete, and the commandment, "Only through a lottery should you divide the land," was complete as well. Because it was the actual lot that confirmed with speech what the division of the land was to be.

Our purpose is symbolized in the conquering and settling of the Land of Israel. To conquer and settle the Land means to make it into a Jewish and holy place, where G‑d could call home. A home is a place that one is free to be him or herself. When a person has ownership of his home, he owns every part of it, fashioning every detail to reflect his personal taste. It therefore takes on the atmosphere of the owner's preference.

Our purpose is to make this world into a home for G‑d,13 a place that He can be Himself. Every part of this world, from the highest spiritual realms to the lowest places of the physical world should be a reflection of Him and His Torah. As G‑d said when he created mankind, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the land and conquer it."14 Conquering it means to make the whole world into G‑d's home.

Perhaps this is also true for the land of Israel today. We don't control the entire land, and we endure danger and threat from the people in the territories that are not under our control. And the Jewish people in Israel, where there is not a Torah system of government, are not all living under circumstances conducive to living Jewishly. Perhaps the idea of "make this place into Israel" applies to people who live in Israel as well. Because, although they are physically living in the Land of Israel, they do not have the totality of the Land.15

“According to the preparation, so goes the accomplishment.” It is our work now in exile, although not ideal, that makes the home for G‑d. It is what brings Moshiach, the completion of the purpose of existence. The exile is the preparation and the means to the era of Moshiach.

Until he comes, we are in this dark and bitter exile. We have to know that every time and place a person finds himself in is ordained by G‑d. "G‑d establishes the footsteps of man."16 That means that we have to be totally invested in the moment. And what are we meant to do in every place until Moshiach comes? We are to make it into a home for G‑d, in other words, "mach doh Eretz Yisrael."

You might ask, "I am just one person in one place. How could small little me make a difference? How can I bring Moshiach?"

When it comes to the Land of Israel, our sages say,17 "There is no one of Israel that doesn't have a part in a mountain, the lowland, the south and the valley." Even though a person might have his inheritance on a mountain, it was as if his land was everywhere, because his inheritance completed everybody else's, and his affected everyone else's.

The same is with a person's work in his or her small part of the world. When you invest yourself genuinely and completely in making your place into Israel, you affect every part of existence, bringing redemption to everybody.

Each and every one of us can affect the world by using our time, place and abilities to the fullest. What is beyond your abilities is not meant for you to do. You are only meant to work with what G‑d gives you.

I see this in my own life. G‑d placed me in a very difficult situation and He took away most of my abilities. I am not perfect, but I try to do my best with the little I have. I learn and write Torah with my ears and eyes, and I try my best to lift the spirit of Jewish people with my smile and love. And I have seen how far it reaches.

You might not see how your actions makes a difference, but they certainly do. And when you give it your all, you will be amazed at the difference you can make. You can make your place into Israel. You can be the one who brings Moshiach. May he come soon.18