by HaRav Dov Begon
Rosh HaYeshiva, Machon Meir
“A petition was presented by the daughters of Tzelafchad, son of Chefer, son of Gilead, son of Machir, son of Manasseh, of the family of Joseph’s son Manasseh” (Numbers 27:1). Rashi explains why Joseph has to be mentioned when the verse could suffice with mentioning their lineage back to Manasseh. The Torah is teaching that Joseph loved the Land, for he made the Israelites swear to bring up his bones to Shechem (Genesis 50:25). Joseph said, “You took me from Shechem. Bring me back to there” (Ba’al HaTurim, Ibid.). Tzelafchad’s daughters loved the Land, as it says, “Give us a portion” (Numbers 27:4). This teaches that they were all righteous.
The love of the Land which burned in the hearts of Joseph and of Tzelafchad’s daughters has continued to burn in the hearts of myriad of our Jewish brethren down through the generations. In a procession lasting thousands of years, individuals and groups have merited in every age to walk -- or run -- before the camp, bearing the torch of love of the Land, a love which has been practically displayed through self-sacrifice, struggles and wars. Their intent has always been to bring merit to the Jewish People and to the entire world, through the revelation of G-d’s glory and light for all to see in our Living Land. Over the last century, which has witnessed the national rebirth and the ingathering of the exiles, the torch bearers of Love of the Land before the State’s establishment were those pioneers who settled the Land and made it flower from the Galilee to the Negev. Those people established the infrastructure for the State of Israel.
In our own day, the torch bearers and lovers of the Land who walk before the camp, benefiting all of Israel and literally defending, with their bodies, the State and Land of Israel from its enemies who long to destroy it -- albeit in vain -- are the settlers of Judea and Samaria, Gaza, the Golan Heights and the Galilee, and everywhere else in our country. They are the saints of our generation, in whose hearts the love of the Land burns, that same love of Joseph and of Tzelafchad’s daughters. They will be beneficiaries of Jacob’s blessings to Joseph: “Joseph is a fruitful son, like a fruitful vine by the fountain, with branches running over the wall”; “In times to come, Israel will use you as a blessing. They will say, ‘May G-d make you like Ephraim and Manasseh’” (Genesis 49:22, 48:20).