All That I Need
To a larger group give a larger inheritance, and to a smaller group a smaller one; each is to receive its inheritance according to the number of those listed. Be sure that the land is distributed by lot. What each group inherits will be according to the names for its ancestral tribe. — Numbers 26:54-55
Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Pinchas, which means “Phinehas,” from Numbers 25:10–30:1.
The very first thing I do each morning when I wake up is recite the traditional Jewish morning prayers. These prayers put me in the right frame of mind and help shape my day. Among those important prayers is a blessing thanking God for providing me with everything that I need. Not everything that I want, but exactly what I need.
It’s also a beautiful reminder to trust that God has given me exactly what I need. I don’t need to worry about what my neighbor has, or even another member of my family. What another person has may not be what I need at all.
In today’s reading, God instructed Moses to divide the land of Israel between the twelve tribes. Moses had just finished counting the people, and God told him: “To a larger group give a larger inheritance, and to a smaller group a smaller one…” Moses was to assign the land according to the needs of each tribe.
However, then God added this directive: “Be sure that the land is distributed by lot.” Although Moses had already assigned the portions in theory, in practice they were to be determined by lot. In giving out the land by lots, Moses was able to avoid one tribe becoming jealous of another tribe’s allocation. All would be done by lottery so that there could be no doubt that the outcome was ordained by God, just and fair. Miraculously, the lottery results were consistent with what Moses had already determined, with each tribe receiving land in proportion with its needs.
We can learn a lot from the way that the Israelites received their portions in the Promised Land. On the one hand, it seems random — determined by the luck of the draw. On the other hand, we know that it was determined by God, and that each tribe received exactly what it needed. Wanting a larger portion would be like wanting a shirt that is too big. It may look nice, but it’s not going to fit our body.
That’s the way that we need to approach our own “lots” in life.
Happiness doesn’t come from having more. If that were true, then statistics would show that richer people are happier, but that’s not the case. Nor does happiness depend on having what someone else has. We need to know deep down that we have exactly what is best for us right now — not more and not less — and be happy with what God has given us.
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