1. There is an aspect of Simchas Torah which recurs year after year but has never been discussed, and I have not heard that anyone should make note of it.

It was the Alter Rebbe who taught that we must “live” with the times, the teachings of the weekly Torah portion. With this in mind we study one section of the weekly portion every day of the week.

Simchas Torah brings a novel situation. Since we read both VeZos HaBerachah as well as Bereishis on Simchas Torah, and since Simchas Torah can never occur on Shabbos, it follows that on Simchas Torah we must always study several daily sections of VeZos HaBerachah as well as several sections of Bereishis [or at least one, when Simchas Torah is Sunday].

The result is that Simchas Torah has the unique and exceptional quality of being a day on which we must “live,” not with one section of Torah, but with several — from the two portions Bereishis and Berachah.

Is this really so special a phenomenon? Although Torah is a unified entity it does have divisions. True, G‑d spoke the Ten Commandments in one utterance — but we heard ten commandments. Logic also compels us to say that Torah has its divisions — the goal of Torah is to be studied, understood and applied — therefore the Torah must be broken down into its details. Each mitzvah or fact must be separate from the other. This is also the purpose of the pauses in Torah. Rashi puts it this way:

And what purpose did these subsections serve (i.e. why are the larger sections broken up into smaller ones)? To give Moshe an interval for reflection between one division and another. Something which is all the more necessary for an ordinary man receiving instruction from an ordinary man. (Rashi, Vayikra 1:1)

In the broadest sense there is the division between the Written and Oral Torah as the Rambam explains:

All the precepts which Moshe received on Sinai, were given together with their interpretations, as it is said, “...and the Torah and the commandments.” “Torah” refers to the Written Law; “and the commandments” to its interpretation ... which is called the Oral Law.

The division in Torah also applies on a more intrinsic level; the division between the revealed Torah and the hidden Torah. All explanations of Torah that we have are at some point “hidden” in the written (or revealed) Torah, and yet the esoteric teachings of Torah are segregated from the exoteric aspect of Torah.

When the Alter Rebbe taught us to “live” with a specific section of Torah on a particular day, he was indicating that the division of Torah will also apply in the realm of time. Each day has its section of Torah.

The Alter Rebbe’s name, Schneur, also personified the aspect of “two lights” — for the Baal Shem Tov had said that the Alter Rebbe would illuminate the world with the glow of the exoteric teachings of Torah and esoteric teachings of Torah [the written and oral, revealed and hidden].

Consequently, the day of Simchas Torah must have special powers to incorporate seven Torah sections into its Divine service — whereas every other day of the year can “live” with only one portion and no more.

In this context several thoughts come to mind: We are joining the last portion of the Torah with the first; their themes are opposites; as their names indicate divergent meanings: “Bereishis” means beginning while Berachah (blessing) means the continuation, or “drawing down upon,” which comes after the initiation and continues on till the end of time. While it is true that we connect these two portions, their themes remain essentially opposites. Despite this difference the custom is to combine them and “custom establishes the rule of Torah.”

What does remain troubling is the order in which we read the section. Since one portion is the beginning of Torah and the other is the end — why change the order? More perplexing, after reading the end, why do we need the beginning?

The answer is that when we received the Torah at Sinai, the beginning was initiated by the Holy One, Blessed be He, and our Divine service expresses itself in carrying out (drawing down) all the powers and potentials given from above, to permeate and invigorate the soul powers and the whole being — from there to all the lower levels, and till the end of time.

What does this mean? Matan Torah (the giving of the Torah at Sinai) introduced an innovation in the essential power, potential and goals of the Jewish people. All Jewish souls were present at Matan Torah and the change therefore affected everyone.

Before the giving of the Torah we did not possess the potential to transform a physical object into an “object of holiness.” This astonishing power was initiated and transmitted to us at Matan Torah. At that time the earlier decree which had banned the lofty beings from descending and the nether creations from ascending was abolished. For G‑d, Himself, made the change: “G‑d came down on Mount Sinai.” In this manner, the lower beings, namely the Jewish people, were given the ability to rise and unite with G‑dliness. And in fact this actually happened, as we find Dovid HaMelech describes it in Tehillim (82:6): “I said you are gods [immortal],” which happened when we received the Torah at Sinai (see Avodah Zarah 5a) and continues afterwards.

The phenomenon of Matan Torah can take place every day, as our sages tell us, when one studies Torah, the Holy One, Blessed be He, studies and reviews opposite him. If the approach to Torah is with the same fear and trembling that prevailed at Matan Torah then the individual scholar will experience the same revelations as at Matan Torah. This is how Torah can always be fresh and new. Since G‑d is now facing him and reciting Torah, it is as if he receives the Torah now. And just as G‑d’sTorah is just as “fresh” the thousandth time it is spoken, so too, the student who receives the Torah experiences a “newness” in the Torah he learns.

If this is true every day of the year, how much more so on Simchas Torah, which completes the holiday season of Tishrei, including Yom Kippur, the day we received the second tablets.

So, we have established that G‑d made the start, and the Jew must carry forth till the end — hence we begin by reading VeZos HaBerachah on Simchas Torah and bring into the world all those aspects of Torah that were initiated at the time of Matan Torah.

Now, however, the second question becomes more perplexing. Having started at Matan Torah and continued with Berachah and covered everything in-between till the end of time — why start again from the beginning?

The explanation is that after completing the diffusion of the “Berachah” to the farthest reaches: “as far as the final sea” or “unto the latest day,” the Jew is then given a new beginning in Torah. There is a regeneration of the aspect of Bereishis. Of course, it is the same portion as last year, nevertheless, when we deal with intent and soul and essence there are many gradations, and when the person reaches the heights of completing VeZos HaBerachah he receives the Torah again in a fashion that will allow him to study it more soulfully and inwardly, with more enthusiasm and energy — immeasurably more lofty than previously attainable.

This new level of Torah study, which the Jew is given after completing the Torah, will also influence the physical world. There is no comparison between the impact a Jew has on the world when he has studied part of Torah to the impact he has after completing the whole Torah. And, since the world was created “For the sake of the Jewish People and for the sake of the Torah,” now that the Jew and Torah have risen, there must also be an ascent for the world — “New Heavens and new earth.”

Previously, the Jew imbued the world with Torah. Now that he is ascending from “strength to strength,” immeasurably higher than before, the Holy One, Blessed be He, is “pressured” into creating a “new heaven and new earth” for him.

May it be G‑d’s will, that this will materialize in the Divine Service of every Jew — for it is the function of the day of Simchas Torah.

And may our actions and Divine worship in the galus speed and bring closer the time of ultimate perfection — the true and complete redemption through our righteous Mashiach, when the Torah of Mashiach will be revealed: “New instruction shall go forth from Me” (Vayikra Rabbah 13:3) and similarly: “the new heavens and the new earth which I will make.” (Yeshayahu 66:22)

All the Jewish people will dance forth out of the galus — a complete nation with the complete Torah.

The closing words of the Chumash: “Before the eyes of all Israel” indicates a vision which will unite all the people — it will be the unified vision of Torah.

In this manner we will proceed to the complete Holy Land — which will be broadened to encompass all the lands of the world. And thence we will come to Yerushalayim, the Holy City, and the Holy Mountain — to the eternal Sanctuary.

And the joy of Simchas Torah will dissolve all boundaries and divisions.

All this depends on the action of one Jew — as the Alter Rebbe writes:

It is written in the Tikkunim that even if one Tzaddik returns to G‑d with a complete repentance, Mashiach will come in his generation.” (See Zohar Chodash sec. Noach)

So may it be, speedily and truly in our days.

2. It was mentioned earlier that today’s Chumash study includes several sections of Berachah and Bereishis. Let us study the third reading section of Bereishis which is especially associated with Tuesday.

The first verse of today’s portion:

The man named every livestock animal and bird of the sky, as well as all the wild beasts. (Bereishis 2:20)

This indicates a very lofty level. On the other hand, the last verse of the Torah reading reads:

G‑d made leather garments for Adam and his wife and He clothed them, (Ibid.:21)

where we clearly speak of Adam’s descent.

G‑d had brought all the animals and birds to Adam,

to see what he would name each one ... whatever the man called each living thing [would] remain its name. (Ibid.:19)

Here we see the rulership of man over all the living creatures of the world. As the Torah had stated:

Dominate the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky and every beast that walks the land.” (Ibid. 1:28)

The process of naming the animals has an additional importance. The Midrash relates:

When the Holy One, Blessed be He, came to create Adam, He took counsel with the ministering angels, saying to them, “Let us make man.” “What will be the nature of this man?” they inquired. “His wisdom will exceed yours,” He answered. What did the L‑rd do? He brought animals, beasts and birds before them and asked them, “What should be the names of this?” but they did not know; “of this?” and they did not know. Then He paraded them before Adam and asked him, “What is the name of this?” “An ox.” “And of this?” “A camel.” “And of this?” “A donkey.” “And of this?” “A horse.”

Thus, G‑d used the naming process as a proof of Adam’s superior wisdom. Clearly, the names he gave were not just acceptable vocalizations or nice-sounding noises — the angels could have thought of that, too. But no, Adam formed names that matched to their essential beings — this was his brilliance. This also emphasizes Adam’s control over the world of fauna — for he was able to reveal their true being and indicate their nature and function in the world. Thus, the first verse indicates the brilliance, power and loftiness of Adam. [It should be added that although the Scripture only speaks of the world of fauna — in fact, Adam also named and ruled in the world of flora, as well as the inanimate world of mineral.]

When we come to the end of the section we read of utter descent; Adam’s terrible fall. When they were created — they were on such a lofty plateau that:

The man and his wife were both naked, but they were not embarrassed by one another. (2:25)

They had no need for garments, because of their high spiritual position.

What happened after the sin of the Tree of Knowledge? They fell to such a lowly position that they needed clothing; not soft, delicate, and refined garments such as silk or wool, but coarse garments of leather.

The grossest material was able to afford them protection in matters of modesty as well as protection from the elements. Man had fallen below the level of leather clothes and was forced to receive benefit from them.

When we view these two verses in the context of the entire third reading section of Bereishis we are faced with an overpowering problem. The Alter Rebbe taught us to live with the moral of the daily Torah section. Here, we start out on the highest level and fall to the lowest nadir, what can we learn from this!? If the order had been reversed, that first we read about the fall of Adam and then we read of his great loftiness we could garner the lesson to rise from level to level, till the highest level. But when the Torah switches the narration and tells us first the good and ends of with the bad, where do we stand?

Let us take the following approach. Man’s initial steps in Divine service is expressed in the verse: “The man named every livestock animal and bird of the sky.” This was in response to the fact that G‑d had paraded all members of the animal kingdom before him to see what he would name them.

In other words: The goal and purpose of all created beings is that a Jew should utilize them for the worship of G‑d. “They were created only to serve me, whereas I was created only to serve my Maker.” This explains why every individual should realize that everything in the world was created for him — to use in serving G‑d. This applies to kosher as well as non-kosher animals. This principle applies in every area. The Mishnah says:

All that the Holy One, Blessed be He, created in His world He created solely for His glory. (Avos 6:1)

Which means, that man must utilize every created thing for the glory of G‑d, and to carry out the goal of his existence. “Let all your deeds be for the sake of Heaven,” (Avos 2:12) and, “In all your ways acknowledge Him.” (Mishlei 3:6)

This must be expressed not only passively, by recognizing and praising G‑d’s omnipotence and omniscience but by actively using every created thing in its proper way and nature to increase the worship of G‑d. All this begins with categorizing and naming everything.

In giving names to anything the subject is analyzed and evaluated to the point that its nature, potentials, functions and faculties are identified and delineated. Its function must also match to its essential spiritual nature so as not to create tension between its nature and its job. Rather, it must be properly categorized and then it will channel all its powers to add to the service of G‑d.

Thus, we see that the act of naming the creatures of the world is the beginning of the service of G‑d in the world. Consequently, when a Jew studies this verse, which tells us of the naming, and the Holy One, Blessed be He, sits opposite him and studies facing him, the phenomenon occurs again. It is as if G‑d is parading all the creatures of existence in front of him and asking him to study them and name them, and utilize their qualities in the service of G‑d.

This process is the act of revelation. That which was present, but concealed, is now revealed and manifest through the efforts of the Jew. In doing so the individual exercises his power of control over the creatures of the world.

But the Jew must advance from “strength to strength” and not be satisfied merely by revealing that which inherently exists. He must strive to convert the profane into holiness and thereby “create” something new.

This power is hinted at in the last verse of today’s section of Bereishis: “G‑d made leather garments ... and He clothed them.” In the Midrash Yalkut Shimoni it is related:

The Holy One, Blessed be He, took the skin that the serpent shed and made leather garments for them. (Bereishis, note 34)

The source of thesin became the vehicle for rapprochement. Thus is the gist of transforming darkness into light; “the night shines as the day.” (Tehillim 139:12)

But let us take a closer look. The purpose of the skin on a living being is to protect the organism. It is not, however, as essential an organ as the muscles, veins or bones. It is the least “alive” part of the creature. As such, when the skin of an animal is used to fabricate leather garments for human beings we witness a drastic transformation from the lowest part of the animal to the higher plane of humans. It is adapted to the size of the person and becomes indispensable to the person, helping him to function properly in his Divine service.

Now, how much more so in the case of the snake’s skin! Here, the lowest of the low became the garment for the “handiwork of G‑d” — Adam and Eve. And, whereas before the sin of the Tree of Knowledge there was no need for clothes because of their high spiritual level, after the sin, and their fall, the garments were not only necessary but they now provided a new aspect which did not exist previously — honor and beauty!

This concept is especially emphasized in the case of a king, as the Gemara explains that a king may only be seen when he is wearing his crown and regal raiments. Similarly in the case of the Kohen Gadol we are told:

Make sacred vestments that are both dignified and beautiful.... (Shmos 28:2)

The clothing must be beautiful and fit perfectly and thereby project the physical, as well as spiritual greatness and beauty.

Thus, the new institution initiated with the making of “leather garments,” was truly an improvement over the system before the sin of the Tree of Knowledge.

Another aspect should be mentioned. The Midrash relates:

In Rabbi Meir’s Torah it was found written “Garments of light” (The word Or was written with an Aleph instead of an Ayin) (Bereishis Rabbah 20:12)

The Gemara says that Rabbi Meir’s role was to: “Enlighten the Sages in Halachah,” (Eruvin 13b) and yet, he was so great, that “His colleagues could not fathom the depths of his mind.” (Ibid.) Rabbi Meir saw a light which was spiritually superior to the other Tannaim, and he found this supernal light in Torah. For this reason in his Torah the word “Or” was written with an Aleph, “light,” rather than with an “Ayin” — “leather.” His lofty state allowed him to transform the “skin” to “light.”

On a simple level, an Aleph symbolized the Holy One, Blessed be He, the One Master of the world. It is also symbolic of the Jewish people, the messengers of G‑d in the world. For just as G‑d is One — so are the Jewish people called “One Nation.”

The letter Ayin (gematria 70) represents the seventy nations of the world. Torah must modify this disunity and diffusion of the 70 forces in the world through sages such as Rabbi Meir. He can reveal the intrinsic light of Torah, and enlighten the eyes of the sages and therefore reveal that the true inner purpose of the diversity of the “Ayin” is really the unity of the G‑dliness of the Creator, and thereby, “leather garments” become “garments of light.” And since G‑d desires our actions in this world, we have the responsibility to carry on the example of Rabbi Meir to convert the Ayin to Aleph.

The third reading section of Bereishis encompasses this broad responsibility for the individual. First, recognize your potential — G‑d parades the creatures of the world before you to name them and categorize them and accentuate their roles, purpose and utility in doing G‑d’s will in the world.

Following this, the Jew advances from “strength to strength,” and not only “reveals” but “creates.” He transforms the skin of the serpent to a human garment of “light” which clothes the person in honor and beauty. Being the third day of the week we know that the second “Ki Tov — it was good” — was said to indicate that what was incomplete on the second day was reintroduced on the third day — and brought to perfection. [On Simchas Torah we read two Torah portions, making it the third day of two weeks. As such, on Simchas Torah the double blessing of “Ki Tov” is itself doubled.]

The lessons of Torah are eternal — as Torah itself is eternal — and our Divine service will bring a perfection and completion into creation.

And I will cause the spirit of tumah (impurity) to pass out of the land, (Zechariah 13:2)

and, “May our eyes behold Your return to Zion ...” (Siddur) with the true and complete redemption truly in our times.

* * *

3. This year Shemini Atzeres falls on Monday and Simchas Torah on Tuesday. Rosh Hashanah of course occurred on the same days.

There is a well-known mnemonic rule used to remind us when the portion of Vayeilech is read together with Nitzavim. It is based on a verse in Daniel (1:13): “Pa’T’Ba’GHaMelech” (the food of the king). The rule explains that when Rosh Hashanah (HaMelech) occurs on Monday (B’) or Tuesday (G’) then we separate (Pa’T’) Vayeilech from Nitzavim.

These letters were not just combined by some haphazard coincidence, but they probably reveal the inner context of the themes of Rosh Hashanah, Nitzavim, Vayeilech and consequently, also, Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah. This is especially pertinent, because the previous Rebbe explained, that what we accomplish on Rosh Hashanah through prayer and repentance we also accomplish on Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah, through rejoicing.

Let us therefore analyze these various subjects to find some message which will be relevant not only for scholars of esoterica but for every Jew, in a down-to-earth practical manner.

The essential theme of Rosh Hashanah is: “Proclaim Me king over you.” (Rosh Hashanah 16a) This acceptance of the suzerainty of the Almighty also entails the subsequent acceptance of His commandments and statutes. When there is a wholehearted acceptance of the sovereignty of G‑d, then even the supralogical statutes are fulfilled with delight and motivation.

Normally, only those commandments which are rationally acceptable and intellectually necessary will animate the subject to joyful performance. Statutes will be performed because there is no alternative. However, when the initial acceptance of the rulership was accomplished with delight and desire — being preceded with the supernal request: “Accept My kingdom” which was followed by: “willingly accepted His Sovereignty” (see Siddur); then because G‑d gives us the opportunity to “Proclaim Me King over you,” to crown G‑d as “King of Israel” and “King of the whole world,” as a result, the superational decrees become pleasant and “delightful,” being the will of the Omnipotent, and we fulfill them joyfully.

Thus the theme of Rosh Hashanah is to crown G‑d as King with rejoicing and thereby imbue the aspect of delight in all His commandments. To paraphrase: The gevuros (severities) have been sweetened. This is the theme of, “Rejoice greatly with trembling,” (Tehillim 2:11) which describes the mood of Rosh Hashanah.

On the one hand, Rosh Hashanah is an awesome day of judgment:

Concerning countries, [judgment] is pronounced [on this day] ... creatures are brought to mind, to remember them for life or death. “The angels tremble, fear and dread seize them,” “who shall live ...,” (Machzor)

all this connotes the aspect of gevurah. And on the other hand, the Divine service of Rosh Hashanah must be done with joy; to temper and sweeten the gevuros.

The “Ba’G’“ of the aforementioned mnemonic also symbolizes the tempering of severity. The letter ‘Ba’ (Bais) represents gevurah. On the second day of creation the Torah did not use the term “Ki Tov” because dissention was created on the second day — a separation and restriction was made in the waters. But on the third day (‘G’ — Gimmel) peace was imposed, between the supernal and temporal, the King and the people, and the blessing of Ki Tov was doubled — good for heaven and good for the creations. The number three represents — peace.

Intrinsically and essentially this is the purpose of all creation — to bring harmony among the divergent forces. Thus, Ba’G’ symbolizes the tempering of the forces of severity — peace in the world. We may also find this meaning in the complete phrase: “Pa’T’Ba’GHaMelech.” Pa’T’ means pieces — the food must be properly portioned and prepared in order to be presented to the king — thus here too the power of the King imposes the “peace” on all the severe forces.

Here we will discern the relationship to the portions of Nitzavim and Vayeilech. “Standing (Nitzavim) before the Holy King,” all the souls are prepared for their descent into the mundane world where they move (Vayeilech) to carry out the Supernal will and bring purification to the corporeal world. The world is presented to us in its pristine state of divergence (Bais). We must impose peace (Gimmel) and carry out our Divine Mission.

Since Rosh Hashanah may fall on four possible days, it is only when it occurs on Monday or Tuesday that Vayeilech is separated from Nitzavim. In other words, when Rosh Hashanah occurs on the other possible days the aspect of tempering the severity is already accomplished from Above, therefore Vayeilech does not come after Rosh Hashanah. But when Rosh Hashanah is on Monday or Tuesday then our input is necessary. In such years, when we sweeten the Gevuros then Simchas Torah is on Tuesday — for the aspect of the double blessing of the third day is again doubled, being the third day of Berachah and Bereishis.

The theme of Berachah is to reveal and radiate all the blessings to the “final sea” (day). This is an amazing feat to accomplish on a weekday — normally the abundant blessing is generated on a Shabbos or special day.

When Bereishis is read after Berachah it symbolizes the renewed creation — “the new heaven and earth,” the harmony of heaven and earth effected by the peace of the third day.

May G‑d grant that each and everyone will utilize these lessons in their personal Divine service in all of these aspects. From the august levels of the leaders, to the simple people, as symbolized by Simchas Torah when everyone dances together in harmony with the Torah. And from the rejoicing of Simchas Torah may we merit to the complete joy of the complete and true redemption through our righteous Mashiach. Then we will have the new teachings (of Mashiach) and the new heaven and earth, and the new joy: “an everlasting joy, upon their heads” (Yeshayahu 35:10) speedily and truly in our times.

* * *

4. It would be appropriate at this time to mention several matters of practical concern, for “the essential thing is the deed.”

The time for reviewing the Torah portion of Simchas Torah, twice Scripture and once Targum, is on Shemini Atzeres. Although some people have the custom of reviewing the portion of Berachah on the night of Hosha’ana Rabbah, it is the custom of Chabad to do it on Shemini Atzeres which is the eve of Simchas Torah. Since every week the proper time for the review of the portion is on Friday, the eve of the day when it is publicly read, similarly, regarding Simchas Torah it should be done on Shemini Atzeres, the day before it is read in public. In any case, if it was not reviewed yet, it should be done by tonight at the latest.

Another matter needing mention is the “Keren HaShanah.” The mitzvah of tzedakah applies at all times and it is especially important to give charity before praying:

In righteousness (tzedakah) I shall behold Your face. (Tehillim 17:15)

However, because often one may forget or not be careful to donate tzedakah before each prayer, a fund has been established to which one may contribute an amount in multiples of the days of the year and from this fund every morning and afternoon money will be distributed to tzedakah. For Shabbos and Yom Tov a double amount will be given on the day before. This being the last of the holidays of Tishrei it is an opportunity to remind everyone of this fund.

And from one good deed to another. During the month of Tishrei there were several propitious days for giving tzedakah: Erev Rosh Hashanah, the Fast of Gedaliah, Erev Yom Kippur, Erev Sukkos, and in the realm of hospitality, also the entire holiday of Sukkos.

Therefore anyone who has not fulfilled his obligation in the aforementioned charities should do so in the next few days.

It is also the proper time to remind and encourage everyone concerning the daily study of Chitas: Chumash, Tehillim and Tanya. The portion of Chumash study for Simchas Torah — should be concluded by tonight and all the daily portions should be diligently studied every day. To this should be added also the daily Rambam section.

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5. In the portion of Berachah we find several references to the boundaries of Eretz Yisrael. Speaking about Binyamin the Torah states:

To Binyamin he said: ... [G‑d] protects him all day long and dwells among his slopes. (Devarim 33:12)

The Sifri relates that this verse refers to the Bais HaMikdash:

Binyamin merited that the Shechinah should dwell in its portion.

Rashi comments:

All day long: i.e. forever. From the day that Yerushalayim was chosen as the seat of the Temple, the Divine Glory has never dwelt at any other place. (Rashi, loc. cit.)

The Rambam puts it this way:

As soon as the Sanctuary was built in Yerushalayim, it became unlawful to build a house unto the L‑rd and to offer sacrifices at any other place. (Laws of the Temple 1:3)

He further comments:

.. because the sanctity of the Sanctuary and of Yerushalayim derives from the Divine Presence which could not be banished. (Ibid. 6:16)

The Sifri continues:

When Yehoshua divided the land for the tribes, he omitted the “most fertile part of Yericho” which was an area of 500 cubits by 500 cubits and he gave it to Yonadav, the son of Rachav (the family of Yisro) ... and when the Shechinah rested in the domain of Binyamin they vacated that section (in Yericho and gave it to Binyamin) as it says: And the children of Keni, the father-in-law of Moshe, went up from the city of the date palms....

This needs clarification. Why was this “most fertile section of Yericho” not parceled out together with all the other areas of Eretz Yisrael? Why was it first given to the family of Yisro and only later transferred to Binyamin?

The Rogachover Gaon presents the following explanation:

Prior to the fall of Yericho we find that Yehoshua had stated: “And the city shall be consecrated to the L‑rd.” (Yehoshua 6:17) How is it possible to apply the state of “consecration” (cherem) on something which you still do not possess? We must therefore say that they forswore any use of the fertile section of Yericho in the manner of an oath and they said that it would be dedicated to the use of the Bais HaMikdash. For this reason, later, when the Bais HaMikdash was built in the domain of Binyamin this section of Yericho was given to Binyamin to be used for (or in exchange for) the Bais HaMikdash.

This will explain why the land was not allocated earlier — it was dedicated (consecrated) for a specific use.

We may draw an analogy to this concept from the cities given to the tribe of Levi. The Rambam rules concerning the cities of the Levi’im:

Even though the Tribe of Levi was given no share in the land, the children of Israel had already been commanded to give them cities to dwell therein, together with the adjacent open land. (Laws of Sabbatical and Jubilee Years 13:1)

This is based on the Scriptural verse:

Have them give the Levites from their hereditary holdings. (Bamidbar 35:2)

Why do the other tribes have to give the Levites their cities? Simple! This was in exchange for their service in the Bais HaMikdash on behalf of all the Jewish people. The Rambam notes this when he says:

They are rather the host of the Holy Name.... It is He, Blessed be He, who acquires for them, as it is said, “I am your portion and your inheritance.” (Bamidbar 18:20) (Ibid.:12)

Similarly the rich land of Yericho belonged collectively to the Jewish people, they made the oath that it would be consecrated for G‑d, and when the Bais HaMikdash was built and the Shechinah came to dwell in the portion of Binyamin they gave it to Binyamin.

* * *

Regarding the division of Eretz Yisrael in the future, let us first see what was given to the Levites in ancient times. The Rambam states:

The entire tribe of Levi was enjoined to have no share in the Land of Canaan.... If a Levite takes a share in the land, it must be taken away from him. (Ibid:10)

The commentaries on this Rambam write that in the time to come the Levi’im will have a share in the Land. (At first glance it would appear that the Rambam could concur with this opinion.)

The Rambam, however, does not make any mention of such a law, and in his list of Negative Commandments he lists the prohibition just stated concerning the Levi’im. Applying the Rambam’s rule that he only includes those commandments which are always (even in the time to come) applicable, we can deduce that the Rambam holds that in the future the Levi’im will not get a share in the Land.

This presents us with a contradiction, for the Gemara specifically says that in the future, Eretz Yisrael will be allocated to 13 tribes, including Levi! Can the Rambam disagree with the Gemara?

A careful study of the Rambam’s terminology will shed light on this problem:

The entire tribe of Levi was enjoined to have no share in the LandofCanaan.

If we peruse the Laws of Sabbatical and Jubilee Years we will find the Rambam consistently using the term LandofIsraelnotCanaan. Why did he make an exception here?

In discussing the future cities of refuge the Rambam states:

In the time of the King Mashiach three more cities will be added to these six ... where will they be added, among the cities of the Kenites, Kenizites, and Kadmonites, concerning whose territories a covenant was made with Avraham, and who have not yet been conquered. It is of these that Scripture says: “And if the L‑rd thy G‑d enlarge thy border....” (Laws of Murder 8:4)

With this in mind we may say that the prohibition for the Levites to inherit land applies only to the original land of Canaan — but not to the lands of the Kenites, Kenizites and Kadmonites. The term EretzYisrael includes these territories but the term LandofCanaan does not.

Being that this is not something clearly spelled out in the Gemara the Rambam does not mention it, but assumes we will deduce this rule from his emphasis on “Land of Canaan.”

There remains however another unclear point. The Rambam explains the reason for the restriction of the Levi’im to own land:

Because they were set apart to worship the L‑rd, to serve Him and to teach His upright ways and His righteous judgments to the many, as it is said, “They shall teach Yaakov Your ordinances and Israel Your law.” They were consequently set apart from the ways of the world: they may not wage war as do the rest of Israel, they have no share in the Land.... (Ibid. 13:12)

Let us keep this in mind and recall how the Rambam describes the time of Mashiach:

In that era there will be neither famine nor war, ... the one preoccupation of the whole world will be to know the L‑rd. (Laws of Kings 12:5)

Now, if we compare these two descriptions we will see that in the future all people will have the role of Levi’im, “set apart from the ways of the world.”

If so, why will the Levi’im not have a share in the Land of Canaan just like everyone else? The answer is that the Rambam had delineated that the Levi’im would have the responsibility in the Bais HaMikdash and would teach the “ordinances and the law.” True, all the Jewish people will study Torah and “know the L‑rd” — but the Levi’im will still be given greater responsibility to serve in the Bais HaMikdash and to study Torah to the degree of teachingHalachah. Certainly more time and effort will be needed for the detailed study of Halachah, than for regular study. For these reasons they will still be considered the servantsofG‑d and not receive a regular portion in the Land of Canaan.

The lesson we learn from this is that the Levi’im must express their desire and hope for the redemption even more than others. They will merit a double inheritance — on the one hand, “I am your portion and your inheritance” and, in addition, they will inherit — according to the Rambam — the lands of Kenites, Kenizites and Kadmonites. In each aspect they will receive a quality which is lacking from the other.

Now if all Jews cry out — “till when” and demand, “Immediate repentance — Immediate redemption,” the Tribe of Levi must do even more.

May we merit to go on the pilgrimage with the true and complete redemption through our righteous Mashiach speedily and truly in our days.