In the reading of Pinchas, G‑d commands Moshe to divide Eretz Yisrael among the Jewish people.1 There were three distinct aspects to this division:

a) Eretz Yisrael was an inheritance for the Jewish people;2

b) the land was logically divided — a larger tribe received a larger inheritance, etc.;3

c) the division was by lot.

Why were these three aspects necessary?

Eretz Yisrael , as “G‑d’s inheritance,”4 was given to the Jewish people, for they too are deemed to be “G‑d’s inheritance.”5 As our sages state:6 “G‑d said: ‘Let the Jewish people who have come to My portion inherit the land that has come to My portion.’ ”

Thus, giving Eretz Yisrael to the Jews emphasizes their connection to G‑d.

Since this is a triple connection, as we say in the morning prayers:7 “How good is our portion , how pleasant our lot , and how beautiful our heritage ,” it follows that the giving of Eretz Yisrael also involved portion, lot and heritage.

The difference between “portion” and “lot” is somewhat similar to the difference between a sale and a gift. A sale is entirely dependent upon the buyer paying the seller for an object. A gift, however, springs entirely from the good will of the person who grants it, as he has no expectation of or desire for reward.

With regard to G‑d’s beneficence to the Jewish people, there are two manners of giving:8 a) that which G‑d grants as remuneration for the performance of mitzvos, and b) gifts granted from G‑d entirely independent of the Jews’ service.

Herein lies the difference between “portion” and “lot.” “Portion” refers to the connection that Jews achieve with G‑d as a result of their service (similar to a sale), while “lot” refers to the fact that the Jewish people are bound to G‑d simply because G‑d “has chosen us among all the nations”9 — similar to a gift.

The doing of something entirely of one’s free will, without the slightest coercion, is particularly stressed by a lot, since the person has no rational basis for his choice, but rather decides to rely entirely upon “the luck of the draw.”

But even in the case of a gift that comes entirely as a result of the good graces of the giver, there is still some connection with the recipient, for a gift is given from a sense of satisfaction with the recipient. As our Rabbis say:10 “Had he not done something for him, he would not have given him a gift.”

Then there is the third category, that of inheritance, for which the person who inherits need not do anything in order to receive his inheritance, for he stands instead of the legator.11 Because of the intimate connection between legator and inheritor, an inheritance passes as a matter of course.12

The merit of “inheritance” over “portion” and “lot” is thus that “portion” and “lot” — similar to “sale” and “gift” — fall within the category of something being given or handed over. Inheritance, however, does not involve removing an object from the possession of the legator, for the person who inherits merely takes the place of the legator.

In spiritual terms, “portion” refers to a Jew’s being bound to G‑d as a result of G‑d descending, as it were, to a level such that the service and merits of the Jewish people are of importance to Him.

“Lot” refers to a deeper level of connection, the Jewish people’s being linked to G‑d not because of any degree of service, but wholly because G‑d so desired. Nevertheless, at this level as well, G‑d chooses the Jewish people as they exist as an entity unto themselves, that they be bound and connected to Him.

The most profound level of unity is that of “inheritance,” wherein the Jewish people are intrinsically one, as it were, with G‑d — they are His “inheritors.”

Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXVIII, pp. 176-180