We read this parsha, the last in Torah, during the festival of Simchat Torah, which takes place this year in the Diaspora (outside Israel) on Monday evening, October 8 through Tuesday evening, October 9. It contains the well known verse: “Torah was commanded to us by Moshe (Moses), an inheritance [morasha] to the Congregation of Yaakov (Jacob).”
Why does Torah use the word morasha when it could have used the related word yerusha?
Rabbi Yissocher Frand on torah.org notes a teaching from the Jerusalem Talmud (Bava Basra 8:2): everywhere we find the word morasha, it connotes a weakening of the idea of inheritance.
Writes Rabbi Frand: “Morasha is a peculiar word. It is not easy to translate. It is significantly different than the word yerusha. The connotation is that one has less ownership in an object that has come to him as a morasha than he does in an item that comes to him as a yerusha.”
To make this point, the Jerusalem Talmud references a verse in Shemot (Exodus) 6:8: “And I will give it [the Land of Israel] to you as a morasha.” It notes that the people given this promise never made it to the Land of Israel. Nearly all of them died in the desert, so the Land of Israel never became theirs.
Writes Rav Frand: “Had the Torah promised Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel) to those who left Egypt as a yerusha, it would have belonged to them with no ifs ands or buts. However, the Torah used the weaker form, morasha, meaning that it will not necessarily be yours.”
“It only became theirs to the extent that they gave it to their children. This, in fact, is the major connotation of word morasha. The word implies ‘it is yours – sometimes literally and sometimes only to the extent that you pass it onto your children without ever having taken possession.’”
“Torah is not a yerusha. Just because my father had the Torah does not mean that I will have the Torah. Sometimes a person only has the Torah as a morasha. This means that if a person sweats over Torah and makes an effort to understand Torah and puts in the hours required to master Torah, then Torah actually becomes his...Without the sweat and the hours, Torah will only be something that the person can potentially pass on to the next generation.”
As parents, we must toil in Torah and teach it to our children so they will have the potential to pass it on to our grandchildren.