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RABBI ASHER BRANDER Va'eira
25 Teves 5772 

By: Rabbi Asher Brander, rabbi@kehilla.org

 

TEACHINGS: IN DEPTH REFLECTIONS ON THE PARSHA - BY RABBI ASHER BRANDERIf you are interested in purchasing Teachings:  In Depth Reflections on the Parsha Email rabbibrander@linkla.org 
 

Pass it On  

Reflections is dedicated in honor of Gina Oken's engagement. Mazel Tov!

Hashem introduce the five terms of redemption. [Shemos, 6]

6 Wherefore say unto the children of Israel: I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm, and with great judgments; 7 and I will take you to Me for a people, and I will be to you a God; and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. 8 And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning which I lifted up My hand to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for a morasha : I am the LORD.'

 

We only drink four cups of the seder - but we pour a fifth. Some authorities feel we should drink it, but the minhag yisrael is to pour it - it is the cup of anticipation that the best is yet to come. It speaks of a time that is not yet upon us - for when we drink the cup, we will have achieved that final redemption. In describing that pinnacle, the Torah introduces to a new word - that appears but one more time in the Torah [and one more time in the rest of Nach]

 

The word is morasha and the other time of course is in the context of the Torah's self-description. It is a verse that we echo daily. The Torah describes Torah as a Morasha. [Devarim, 33:4]

 

Moses commanded us the Torah, a morasha of the congregation of Yaakov.

 

We seek to understand that link between two morashas , i.e. Torah and the land of Israel. Further we understand that morasha has something to do with yerusha (inheritance) yet the Torah shies away from that more common term[1]. It is that tantalizing precise distinction we want to know

 

a. We begin with Abarbanel [Shemos/Devarim]

 

לאברהם ליצחק וליעקב וגו' ועם היות שלא נתתיה ירושה לאבות עצמם אתן אותה לכםמורשה כלומר לא בדרך גרות כמו הם אלא בדרך ירושה וממשלה החלטית....ר"ל כל שאר המצות ששמענו מפי משה יהיה לנו ירושה עולמית לכל זרענו שהיא קהלת יעקב

 

For Abarbanel, the distinction between morasha and yerusha is one of absoluteness. An inheritance is personal. It may be consumed or subverted. A morasha is a yerusha that must continue. It is a perpetual and broad inheritance that does not belong to specific individuals. The Torah is not Yankel's or Berel's - nor does the land of Israel belong to Edo or Lavi. The Torah and Eretz Yisrael belongs to all of the generation and to all generations!

 

b. Rabbeinu Bechayei adds another nuance within this basic distinction:

 

מורשה. ולא ירושה, לרמוז שלא יהיו יורשים אותה, לפי שעתידין היו יוצאי מצרים למותבמדבר אבל יהיו מורישים אותה לבניהם, ובניהם יכנסו לארץ ולא הם, ולכךהזכיר לשוןמורשה, וכן יש לפרש בפסוק "תורה צוה לנו משהמורשה " ולא אמר ירושה, כי היה במשמע שהתורה לא תהיה ירושה כי אם לאותו הדור שקבלוה בלבד ועל כן אמר " מורשה ", שצריך להורישה לבניהם וכענין שכתוב "ושננתם לבניך", כי גם הדורות העתידים חייבים הם בקיום התורה כאותםשקבלוה, ועל דעת רז"ל שם היו (פסיקתא זוטרתא ואתחנן ה, ג) וכענין שכתוב "ואת אשר איננו פה עמנו היום". והנה הבטחה זו סיים בה "אני ה'", כי כן התחיל בלשון הזה ובא ולמד אני ה' המבטיח אני ה' המקיים.

To hint that they will not inherit it - for those that left Egypt would die in the desert and transmit it to their children ... and so too with Torah ... for the word yerusha would imply just for that generation ... therefore morasha implies the imperative to pass it on ... for the future generations are also obligated in the fulfillment of the Torah

 

Morasha is marked by its transmission imperative. While it may not always be used, it must always be transmitted. Even as I receive a morasha, its essential definition is that which must be over. Further, it must follow that the imperative entails no adulteration - i.e. it must be transmitted in an untainted manner from one generation to the next[2]. As such we are carriers of the morasha - of the trust - but we dare not change it

 

Torah and Eretz Yisrael require active transmission to the next generations. I teach Torah and actively dwell in Eretz Yisrael - thinking not only about what it is for me - but actively plotting for the next generation[3] 

 

From these two notions it emerges that Morasha is an untainted absolute item that must be transmitted to all. It sounds like a rather daunting task - a classic Chazal [Pesachim 49b] gives us that key to accomplishing the morasha imperative

 

Moses commanded us the Torah, a morasha of the congregation of Jacob - read not morashah but me'orasah [the betrothed].12

 

In other words while Morasha and Yerusha are both inheritances, Morasha adds a critical subjective piece. I may inherit my grandfather's plaid jacket or my aunt's carpet sweeper - but need not love it; A yerusha is a dispassionate object - a morasha entails the imperative to love that which I receive. I must feel passionate i.e. betrothed to the Torah and Eretz Yisrael. A pareve kalte relationship with the Torah just won't do.

 

Simply consider the blessing on Torah and a simple observation allows one to merge all of our definitions:

 

Make sweet the words of Your Torah in our mouths and in the mouths of Your nation Israel and let us and our children be knowers[4] of your name

 

What is the link between the sweet words of Torah and our children being knowers of your name?

 

My chaver Rabbi Willig explained so beautifully the causative nature of this statement. To the extent that the Torah is luscious in our mouths, we and our children will be knowers of God's name.

 

Why? To the degree that we feel the sweetness, our children [and grandchildren] will want a piece of the pie. Commensurate to our expression of the sweetness of Torah will be the depth of its transmission.

 

How then does one fulfill his morasha imperative - i.e. perpetuate the untainted absolute transmission of Torah and Eretz Yisrael to the next generation - he marries the morasha. He smiles and sings the words of Torah. He skips on the way to the Kotel and sings love songs about Yerushalayim. He projects his love of God in every nook and cranny of his life.

 

History has shown that as a nation we are up to the task. May we individually see the nachas and drink the fifth cup soon.

Good Shabbos,

Asher Brander


[1] While the word yerusha does not appear in the Torah, the root ירש and its verb forms appears several times

[2] A sharp and similar Ohr Hachayim distinction manifests itself with regard to the laws of inheritance:

פירוש אם פירושמורשההוא ירושה וכפי זה הבכור יטול בה פי שנים או דלמא פירושמורשההוא שיהיו מורישין אותה, ופשטו ליה ירושה לכם ומורישין לבניהם והיינו דכתיב(שם ט"ו) תביאמו ותטעמו וגו' מלמד שמתנבאים ואינם יודעים מה וכו' עד כאן, הדבריםמגידים שהספק היה בארץ לא במשפט הבכורה שכבר נאמרה פרשת נחלות, שאם לא כןמה מקשה התלמוד במה נסתפק משה כיון שעדיין לא נאמרה פרשת נחלות עד אותהשעה:

[3] c. A 2nd Rabbeinu Bechayei notion views only Eretz Yisrael as the morasha

ואפשר לומר כי מלת " מורשה " תחזור לארץ ישראל ויהיה באור הכתוב: בזכות התורה שצוה לנו משה, הארץ שכתוב בה "ונתתי אותה לכםמורשה אני ה'", תהיהמורשה לקהלת יעקב, שהרי בקיימנו התורה אנו זוכין בירושתה, ובעברנו עליה אנו גולים ורשים ממנה, וזהו לשון " מורשה " מלשון.... הכל תלוי בתורה.

It is is because of the merit of the Torah that we hold onto the Morasha [the land of Israel]

There is only one Morasha and that is the land of Israel. The Torah is the means by which we hold onto that land. Ba'al Haturim echoes this thought. The stark message for the Torah Zionist is that our grasp of the land is contingent upon

 

[4] The notion of knowledge in Biblical Hebrew connotes intimacy and fondness [v'ha'dam yad es chava ishto, ki yedativ ...]

Good Shabbos
Asher Brander  


 
   
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