Sometimes, notwithstanding the subject of a daf being one topic, certain words or phrases leap out because they speak to us on a very different level – oftentimes about an altogether different topic. And the reason for me mentioning this – especially today – is because much of today’s daf (Ketubot 38a) focusses on the biblical word אֹרָשָׂה meaning ‘betrothed’ (see Shemot 22:15 & Devarim 22:28), and because today is my 10th anniversary with my betrothed.
To be clear, today isn’t my wedding anniversary (although that too is coming up soon). Instead, it is the 10th (secular) anniversary of me, along with my family, making Aliyah to Israel. But in order to explain why I refer to Israel as my ‘betrothed’, a little background is necessary.
On two occasions, the Torah invokes the word מוֹרָשָׁה. In Shemot 6:8 it is used with reference to the Land of Israel, and in Devarim 33:4 it is used with reference to Torah. And while the word מוֹרָשָׁה is generally translated as ‘inheritance’ (in order to convey that the Land of Israel and the Torah is part of the heritage and the inheritance of the Jewish people), our Sages (Brachot 57a) added a further exquisite layer of meaning to this word given the linguistic connection between the word מוֹרָשָׁה and אֹרָשָׂה, thereby teaching us אל תקרי מורשה אלא מאורשה – ‘do not read it as ‘morasha’ (inheritance), but rather as ‘me’urasa’ (betrothed)’.
What this means is that every Jew is in a perpetual state of betrothal with the Land of Israel and with the Torah. In fact, it is worthwhile noting how some commentaries assert that the root of the word ארש is connected to the word ארז – meaning to be wrapped up and bound together – which conveys how someone who is betrothed is wrapped up with another, and in terms of the above-mentioned idea, how a Jew is bound up with the Land of Israel and the Torah.
Admittedly, this idea applies to all Jews wherever they live. However, it is oftentimes only when we are prepared to give things up for what we love that we come to realize how much we truly love them. And while every person’s Aliyah journey is unique, what I have continue to learn – day after day – and notwithstanding the not-insignificant sacrifices, is how much I love my beloved Israel.
Yet, as we learn from the double usage of the word מוֹרָשָׁה, my connection to Israel is also tied up with my connection to Torah. As our Sages (Bereishit Rabbah 16:4) teach us אין תורה כתורת ארץ ישראל – ‘there is no Torah like the Torah of the Land of Israel’. And by living in Israel and concretizing my beloved relationship with Israel, I’ve also been blessed that my Torah learning and teaching has been enriched as well.
Ultimately, anniversaries provide opportunities to celebrate and to take stock of relationships, and so, when reading today’s daf and seeing the word אֹרָשָׂה, I was moved to take stock of this special relationship with my betrothed which I was blessed to take to a new level 10 years ago and which, B’Ezrat Hashem, will continue to move and inspire me in years to come.