Hammer Time Pinchas: Dividing the Land – Combining the Reason
Moshe received two contrasting instructions with regards to portioning the land of Israel for the shvatim. First Hashem informed Moshe that the land would be divided according to the amount of people in each shevet,
“For the numerous one you shall increase its inheritance, and for the fewer one you shall lessen its inheritance”. Yet only two Pessukim later Hashem said,
“According to the lot shall one’s inheritance be divided, between the numerous and the few”.
An argument between Rashi and the Ramban ensues based on this seeming contradiction. Rashi explains that the land was indeed divided according to the size of the shevet itself and the “lot” which was cast miraculously revealed the size of each shevet thereby facilitating the precise division of land. The Ramban however is of the opinion that Eretz Yisrael was divided equally between all the shvatim regardless of size and the lots were cast regarding the location of land for each shevet. The directive regarding “the numerous and the few” referred to the specific families within each shevet who would be apportioned land according to their numbers.
Rav Amnon Bazak indicates that regardless of which opinion you take in calculating the division, the Torah was uncharacteristically unclear regarding its instructions. He explains that the reason for this is because the Torah was concerned with transmitting an essential lesson. The division of Eretz Yisrael according to number and size represents man’s vested efforts to necessitate justice and righteousness in this world; after all, partitioning the land according to population and necessity is most fair. At the same time, the “lots” which were drawn represent man’s succumbing to the fact that regardless of the efforts he invests, ultimately Hashem is responsible for his fate and the fortune of Eretz Yisrael. We must exert and enact a conscious effort without ever losing a profound commitment to Hashem’s overwhelming and almighty influence. This combination should help provide proper reflection as to the causes of the destruction of the Temple and will hopefully provide insight and understanding into how to facilitate its reconstruction and the Geula Shlema. Amen