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Updated: Jul 18

Lotteries are not merely a random method of decision-making but a tool employed to uphold principles of fairness, unity, and divine justice. * On Parshas Pinchas

by ChatGPT

In Parshas Pinchas, we encounter a profound concept that holds significant spiritual implications: the use of lotteries as a method of dividing the land among the tribes of Israel. The classic commentaries and additional sources shed light on the spiritual and symbolic dimensions of lotteries, revealing the deep-rooted connection between divine providence, fairness, and the preservation of unity within the community.


Rashi, drawing upon the teachings of the Sages, describes the process of the lottery for the tribes. The land was divided into twelve portions corresponding to the twelve tribes. The tribes and their boundaries were written on twelve slips of parchment, and the High Priest would draw one slip for the tribe and another slip for the specific boundary. This process emphasized that the allocation was not based on measurement but on divine providence (Rashi on Numbers 26:55).


Chizkuni highlights that by utilizing lotteries, it became evident that the division of the land was not a result of human calculation or manipulation. Rather, it was a manifestation of God's will, demonstrating the active involvement of the divine in the allocation process (Chizkuni on Numbers 26:55).


According to the Midrash Rabbah, the division of the land through lotteries was an expression of divine justice and impartiality. The use of lotteries ensured that each tribe received its designated portion without any prejudice or bias, affirming the principle of divine justice in the distribution of resources (Midrash Rabbah, Bamidbar 13:6).


The Midrash Tanchuma emphasizes that lotteries served as a means to preserve unity and harmony among the tribes. By utilizing this method, the tribes were reminded of their shared destiny and collective responsibility. Lotteries promoted a sense of fairness, ensuring that no tribe would feel disadvantaged or excluded from their rightful portion of the land (Midrash Tanchuma, Pinchas 7).


In various situations, lotteries are viewed as a fair solution when equal distribution or fair judgment is practically challenging. Whether it be dividing an inheritance among heirs or allocating assets among partners, lotteries provide a means to leave the decision to randomness, upholding principles of fairness and equity.

While the perspectives presented highlight the significance of lotteries in promoting fairness and divine justice, they also reveal certain nuances and differences in their approach. Rashi and Chizkuni both emphasize the notion of divine providence in the allocation of the land. They underscore that the use of lotteries ensures that the division is not influenced by human biases or calculations but is rather guided by the divine will.

On the other hand, the Midrash Rabbah and Midrash Tanchuma focus on the preservation of unity and the establishment of a just society through lotteries. They highlight the importance of ensuring that each tribe receives its designated portion, preventing disputes and fostering a sense of collective responsibility.

Despite these variations, these perspectives converge on the idea that lotteries are not arbitrary tools but a means through which divine providence, fairness, and unity can be realized.


The utilization of lotteries as a method of dividing the land serves as a powerful testament to the intertwined nature of divine providence, fairness, and unity. The process revealed the active involvement of the divine in the allocation, ensuring fairness and justice in the distribution of resources. Moreover, lotteries became a unifying force, strengthening the bonds among the tribes and fostering a sense of shared destiny.

As we reflect on the spiritual significance of lotteries, let us internalize the principles they uphold. Let us strive for fairness, unity, and trust, recognizing the divine hand that guides our lives.

May we embrace the lessons embedded in the ancient use of lotteries and apply them in our pursuit of a just and harmonious society.

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