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By Rabbi Dovid Siegel | Series: | Level:


“In the morning you shall draw near in tribe division, and the tribe which Hashem captures shall near in family division, and the family Hashem captures shall near in familiar subdivision and finally as individuals.”

We return to the insightful words of our Sages who reveal the process used in determining the guilty party. They explain that Yehoshua asked Hashem to inform him of the sinner’s identity but Hashem responded, “Am I an informer! Go and draw lots to determine the guilty party.” Hashem’s response seems quite perplexing to us. If Hashem would not reveal Achan’s identity, what could be proven through drawing lots? Conversely, if Hashem would reveal the sinner’s identity through the lots, why wouldn’t He tell Yehoshua directly? In regards to detrimental speech, the Chafetz Chaim makes no distinction between speech and other forms of communication. In addition, we previously questioned that the process of drawing lots isquite risky and lends to much skepticism. Indeed, this was the case with Achan who blatantly denied the authenticity of the lot until Yehoshua coaxed him into admitting his guilt. Why, then, did Hashem order this specific method to accomplish His purpose?

The drawing of lots is an amazing phenomenon, one seemingly governed by Heavenly powers. The Jewish people have used this system throughout history to determine unknown or pre-ordained facts. The Torah introduces the authority of the lots regarding the division of portions in Eretz Yisroel. Hashem informed the Jewish people that their individual portions of land would be determined through the drawing of lots. Rashi quotes the Talmud which explains the selection process in the following manner. Twelve sections replete with exact borders were written on twelve pieces and mixed together in one box and twelve tribes were written and mixed together in another box. Yehoshua announced through Divine inspiration which specific tribe would be drawn and the related portion which would be drawn together with it. Needless to say, he was correct every time. Here, too, the question begs to be asked. Since Yehoshua obviously knew this inside information, what need was there for drawing lots? Why didn’t he merely share his secret knowledge with the Jewish people?

We conclude from this that lot-drawing represents a significant dimension of Heavenly design. The unequivocal results of the lot reveal the perfect association between a particular experience and the one involved in it. One example of this is the lots drawn by the sailors on Yonah’s stormy ship to determine the source of their life threatening predicament. Radak interprets Scriptures to indicate that the passengers held numerous lot drawings, but the results always fell on Yonah. The storm was explicitly directed at Yonah and the repeated result of the lots definitely proved it. In essence, the authentic lot-drawing process attests to the perfect association between a person and his related predicament.

The upshot of this is that all experiences in one’s lifetime are tailored to his specific needs but this is rarely evident. Certain experiences, however, require serious levels of clarity that they are truly meant to be so. This, then, is the setting for the lot drawing process. The lot proves beyond all doubt that one’s personal experience is indeed Heavenly ordained for him. The sailors on Yonah’s ship were apprehensive in confronting any particular passenger on their ship. However, their perilous predicament compelled them to prevail upon the guilty person, thereby preserving their own lives. Confrontation of this sort required total confidence that they were addressing the proper subject, and they therefore turned to the clarity of the lot-drawing process.

We now understand the Heavenly message behind the drawing of lots. Hashem, in His infinite wisdom, incorporated in our world the ability to ascertain one’s portion in life. The lot serves as a perfect indication to the Divine providence involved in one’s particular experience. It reinforces the fact that his experience is truly meant exclusively for him. In essence, the lot reveals to one the Divine dimension in that what will soon occur.

Hashem responded to Yehoshua that He would not reveal Achan’s identity; however, He would allow for its exposure. Achan’s future plight was so clearly ordained that it allowed for natural discovery. The natural process of lots would tell the story as it is. We now realize that the lot was meant to prove that Achan was indeed deserving of his upcoming experiencing and receiving his fare share for what he had done. Hashem instructed Yehoshua to draw this lottery to demonstrate to all this fundamental principle of Divine providence. One’s experiences are so specifically designed for him that their implementation can be discovered within the natural system of lots. The experience is so ordained that its peaks for itself and reveals its authenticity through the drawing of a lot.

This lesson had a direct relationship to Achan’s atrocious behavior and inexcusable arrogance. Our Sages teach us that now was the fourth time Achan trespassed a ban on the spoils of a war. Moshe Rabbeinu placed a ban on the spoils of three previous Jewish victories, but Achan disregarded each of them. Our Sages reveal that Achan eventually confessed and explained his rationale behind all of his actions. He said, “I saw that Hashem promised the Jewish people, ‘And you will acquire the spoils of your enemy!'” These words reveal that Achan challenged Moshe Rabbeinu himself maintaining that the spoils were meant for the Jewish people. After all, didn’t Hashem promise His people the prizes of war?

We now realize the timeliness of this lesson to the Jewish nation. Were the spoils of these wars, in fact, meant for the people or not? Was the upcoming execution of Achan Heavenly ordained or not? Does Hashem have a say in our possessions and their acquisition or not? Conceivably, the drawing of this lot would prove all of the above. The truth would be revealed and the Divine intent would be discovered. Achan’s future lot would be determined within the laws of nature themselves and his upcoming experience would speak up on its own. Although Achan attempted to deny this clear message we will soon learn that even he eventually succumbed and attested to the authenticity of the process. In the upcoming passages we will further discover the significance of the lot in the division of Eretz Yisroel and its relationship to Achan’s behavior.

We have much to learn from the natural phenomenon of lot drawing. We realize through this that Hashem’s Divine plan finds expression even within the laws of nature. The lesson of the lot is clear. Our lot in life is undoubtedly ordained by Hashem and tailor made to fit our individual needs. It is set so perfectly that it even speaks for itself and exposes its truth through the “natural” process of drawing lots.

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