Two types of inheritance

I will bring you to the land, which I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, and I will give it to you as an inheritance (morasha); I am the Lord. Exodus 6:8

God assures Moses that He will redeem the Jewish people from the slavery of Egypt and bring them to the Land of Israel which they will inherit forever. Rabbi Yaakov ben Asher, the 13th Century commentator known as the Baal HaTurim points out that there are only two places in the Torah which speak about a morasha – an inheritance. One is here in our verse and the other is the verse Torah tzivah lanu Moshe morasha kehilat Yaakov – Moses commanded us a Torah, the inheritance of the congregation of Jacob (Deuteronomy 33:4). This is the first verse a parent is obligated to teach to their child.

Rabbi Chaim Elazary (d. 1984) formerly a Rabbi in Canton Ohio, makes another observation. He asks why the term morasha is used instead of the more common Hebrew word for inheritance, yerusha.

He explains that the term yerusha implies that the inheritor receives the inheritance exclusively. There is therefore no obligation on the inheritor to do anything once the inheritance has been received. Morasha however implies a type of inheritance which must not only be received, but which must be passed on to the next generation; beneficiary must become benefactor.

Just as the Torah, which was commanded to us by Moses, must be received from our parents and grandparents and passed on to our children and grandchildren, so too our people’s eternal bond with the Land of Israel must be strengthened in each generation. The Torah is teaching us that our inheritance is to internalise and value our ancient connection to the Land of Israel and inspire the next generation to do the same.


A version of this article first appeared in the Jewish Chronicle.

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