Eretz Yisrael has been given to Am Yisrael as an inheritance. The concept of inheritance implies several lessons regarding our obligation to and relationship with Eretz Yisrael. A yerushah, inheritance, does not mandate a kinyan, a specific act of acquisition. The yerushah becomes the possession of the inheritor, even if his attention is diverted from it at the time. Wherever the inheritor may be, the inheritance becomes his possession. Likewise, notes Horav Mordechai Ilan z.l., is Eretz Yisrael’s relationship with us. Even when we are in galus, exile, it is kept guarded, waiting for our return. Eretz Yisrael is our inheritance.
The Torah is also referred to as yerushah. As it is stated in Devarim 33:4, “The Torah that Moshe commanded us, an inheritance for the congregation of Yaakov.” In the Talmud Sanhedrin 59a, Chazal interpret this to suggest that one can not separate himself from his inheritance, since it is bequeathed to him regardless of his acquiescence. Similarly, one can not disengage himself from the Torah.
Horav Mordechai Gifter, Shlita, cites the Baal HaTurim who distinguishes between vaurh and varun, inheritance and heritage. He explains that Eretz Yisrael and the Torah are our morashah, heritage. What is the difference between a heritage and an inheritance? Horav Gifter explains that an inheritance belongs totally to the inheritor to do with as he pleases. Hence, once he has inherited the object/property, it is his unconditionally. A heritage is bequeathed to an individual for a specific purpose –to transmit it to the next generation. Thus, our morashah, the Torah and Eretz Yisrael, continues to belong to Hashem. It is ours for one limited purpose –to see to it that it is clearly conveyed to the next generation. This remarkable insight not only defines our relationship to Torah, but it also defines our obligation to future generations.