Rabbi Wein.com The Voice of Jewish History

Rabbi Wein’s Weekly Blog
 Printer Friendly


 In the Torah reading of this week our teacher and leader Moshe prays and begs for a final time, that Heaven revoke its decree preventing him from entering the Land of Israel. His plea is unsuccessful and, in fact, he is told not to raise the subject again during his lifetime.

It is striking to note that Moshe does not complain about the outcome of his entreaty nor is there any note of bitterness in the rest of the book regarding his fate. One would think that on balance he could make a good case for himself. After all, he is seemingly being treated unfairly and the punishment meted out to him does not fit the offense committed.
There are many reasons advanced by the commentators as to the true motives of Heaven in not allowing Moshe entry into the land of Israel. Whatever the explanation that is offered, the final line must be that we are not privy to, nor able to understand the workings and judgments of the Lord.
This idea is encapsulated in the famous verse “that no living human being can see Me.” it is not only that God cannot be seen by human eyes, it is also that God's decisions and guidance of the world and of human events lies beyond the pale of our understanding.
Because of this, there always existed attempts to worship God in a manner that somehow could be understood in human terms. The basis of paganism was to make the gods human beings - and not very nice ones at that. We can understand Zeus and Apollo. The true God of Israel remains far beyond human comprehension. And that is what in essence separated Judaism and the Jewish people from all other cultures of the ancient world, and perhaps even of our modern world as well.
Our teacher and leader Moshe came closer than any human being to discern God’s presence. The Lord, so to speak, passed over him and somehow touched him. The face of Moshe radiated with the spark of godliness that was imparted to him. And it is perhaps this intimacy with God that Moshe possessedwhich allows him to accept God’s judgment without question and bitterness.
This is perhaps the supreme lesson that Moshe himself teaches the Jewish people in recounting these events. It is not so much the personal disappointment and frustration that he wishes to communicate to us in being unable to enter the Land of Israel. It is rather the supreme lesson that man is unable to judge God and that the line between the human who is created and God Who is his creator cannot be crossed.
The silence of Moshe on this matter throughout the rest of the book of the Torah speaks volumes. It teaches us the lesson of the relationship between God and humans and of the great inimitable Jewish idea of the glory of God and somehow of our relationship of acceptance and belief in Him.
Shabbat shalom
Rabbi Berel Wein

Subscribe to our blog via email or RSS to get more posts like this one.