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Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Va'etchanan

Appreciating the Merit of Entering The Land of Israel

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The ability to somehow subsume one’s own personal disappointments and even tragedies into the general picture of positive Jewish life and mission is vividly illustrated in Moshe’s response to God’s refusal to allow him to enter into the Land of Israel. Moshe does not accept the decree in a stoic, ‘what is the use’ manner but he instead uses it to impress upon the Jewish people the special good fortune that they possess in being able to enter and inhabit the Land of Israel.

Perhaps only someone who has been denied a special favor, gift or talent can truly appreciate the uniqueness of someone who possesses that favor, gift or talent. (For instance, I appreciate and love to hear great chazanim and baalei tefila though I cannot carry a tune. But I digress.)

Jews who currently have the ability to visit and even more importantly to dwell in our ancient homeland are pretty much blasé’ about the whole matter. We have become so comfortable and accustomed to this gift granted to us that we are even willing to forego it and some Jews even have the temerity to vilify it and claim that gift and opportunity was and is a "mistake!"

Moshe certainly would not have thought so. He breaks down the heavenly gates of prayer, so to speak, in order to gain entry into the Land of Israel. He is willing to forego his lofty office and enter the land just as plain Mr. Moshe but all to no avail.

But instead of bewailing his fate bitterly he uses the experience to encourage his people and steel them for the task and mission that life in the Land of Israel always and automatically entails.

The Jewish soul’s desire to live in the Land of Israel, a desire not diminished by thousands of years of exile and separation, is an extension of the attitude and spirit of Moshe himself. All defeats in Jewish life, no matter how expensive and devastating they may be, are still in the long run only temporary setbacks.

That is the reality of the message of this Shabat Nachamu - that comfort, consolation and triumph eventually await us. Perhaps it is this knowledge of God’s commitment to our survival and success that allows Moshe to move past his own personal disappointments and defeats. Moshe sees the future and spans the generations and is aware of the eternity of Israel and its never ending attachment to the Land of Israel.

And he knows that the eventual destiny of the people of Israel is inextricably bound up with the Land of Israel. And therefore in the midst of his tears over his own unfulfilled hopes and wishes he states words of encouragement and steadfast blessing to his beloved people.

It is part of the character greatness of Moshe that the people he serves always take precedence over his own personal pursuits and desires. As such, he is the model of what a Jewish religious leader should be. Even though there has never been another Moshe, his example still instructs and guides us.
Rabbi Dov Berl Wein
The rabbi of the "HANASI" congregation in Yerushalim, head of the Destiny foundation, former head of the OU, Rosh Yeshiva of 'sharai Tora" and rabbi of the "Beit Tora" congregation, Monsey, New York.
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