The True Challenge of Mitzvot by Chaim Metzger


When the Benot Tzelafchad, daughters of Tzelafchad, are introduced, their lineage is traced all the way back to Yosef. According to Rashi, the mentioning of Yosef is there to compare the Benot Tzelafchad to Yosef, with regards to their profound love of the land of Israel. This comment of Rashi is perplexing, for if it was truly Eretz Yisrael that mattered to them, the Benot Tzlafchod would not have demanded land from their father’s inheritance, and would have been content simply living in the land.

One manner in which to understand this dilemma is that if something is truly dear to someone, he will want it to be his, even if it would still be accessible otherwise. The Torah tells us that because of their immense love of the land, they desired that they should have their own share, not merely be able to live there. By applying this logic, one can reach a new rationale as to why everyone is Chayav, obligated, to write their own individual Sefer Torah, Torah scroll, or according to Rosh, at least purchase their own Sefarim, Torah books. Although someone may be able to borrow Sefarim, a true love of Talmud Torah, Torah study, will caused one to desire to own their own.

Revisiting our initial question, Benot Tzelafchad’s love of the land had to be compared to Yosef’s because otherwise one might have thought that it is more desirable to gain an appreciation and love of the land on your own accord rather than to sustain a feeling passed down to someone by their forefathers. When a person does something of their own initiative, they feel accomplished regardless of the outcome, because they feel that just the fact that you thought of it yourself is an accomplishment. However, when one performs an action that has been passed down for generations, the actual deed is not a challenge, but rather, maintaining a love and enthusiasm for the tradition is challenging. The Benot Tzelafchad were not praised just for their love of Eretz Yisrael, but also the way they demonstrated it. This is alluded to in Pirkei Avot ( 4:2), which states, “SheSechar Mitzvah Mitzvah.” The Bartenura explains this phrase to mean that the joy of the Mitzvah is performing the Mitzvah itself.

This concept applies even in modern times. While it is admirable to love Eretz Yisrael, that in and of itself is insufficient.  What matters most is what one does to demonstrate his/her love for Eretz Yisrael, whether it is giving tzedeka to institutions in Eretz Yisrael, participating in a rally, or even actually making Aliyah.

 -Adapted from Darash Moshe

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