This Land is My Land!
By Rabbi Yonah Burr
ותקרבנה בנות צלפחד בן חפר בן גלעד בן מכיר בן מנשה למשפחת מנשה בן יוסף ואלה שמות בנתיו מחלה נעה וחגלה ומלכה ותרצה
The daughters of Tzelafchad, son of Chefer, son of Gil'ad, son of Machir, son of Menashe, of the families of Menashe son of Yosef, drew near. These are the names of his daughters: Machla, Noa, Chogla, Milca, and Tirtza.
The Torah goes to great lengths to tell us exactly who these women were -- their names as well as their illustrious lineage. Rashi tells us that their righteousness and their love for the land of Eretz Yisroel inspired them to realize that they indeed deserved their own portion according to inheritance law.
One might ask, why does it matter if they actually ‘owned’ a piece of the land? Either way, they were to enter Eretz Yisroel along with everyone else. They would enter the land, eat its fruit, and perform the special mitzvos -- whether they owned it or not!
Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l learns from here an important lesson. Our love for a mitzva should compel us to be ‘stakeholders’ in it -- not just bystanders, but owners. Imagine a father telling his son before his Bar Mitzvah, "It isn’t necessary for you to have your very own pair of tefillin -- you can fulfill the mitzva just fine by borrowing someone else’s pair every day". Correct, technically. But would this convey the love for the mitzva?
Rav Moshe suggests that perhaps it is for this reason that we have a mitzva to commission the writing of our very own Sefer Torah, or at least to purchase our very own sefarim. By doing so, we take pride and ownership of the mitzva!
Rav Moshe adds that this story gives us another important lesson.
The Torah traces the lineage of the daughters of Tzelafchad all the way back to Yosef because if was from him that they received this love of the Land. Way back in Mitzrayim, Yosef insisted that when the Jewish People would eventually leave Egypt, they make sure to take his bones with them. He wished that his final resting place be only in his beloved land of Eretz Yisroel. This made such an impact on Yosef's family that his great-granddaughters were driven and inspired by their own love for the land.
Now, if we are trying to show the greatness of these women, wouldn’t it be even a greater praise if they would have come up with this love on their own?
We see from this that our job is to follow our mesorah and build on the foundation that we are given by our parents and Rebbeim. No credit is given for inventing some new way. We only pay homage to those who build and grow in the way of our Mesorah!
May we merit to show love for the mitzvos, following our precious Mesorah!
Have a wonderful Shabbos!