Beit Midrash

  • Torah Portion and Tanach
  • Va'etchanan
To dedicate this lesson

The Torah study is dedicated in honor of

Gila Bat Rachel

Parshat Va'etchanan


Rabbi Jerome Gelman

Tammuz 21 5757
The Chief Rabbinate declared a religious holiday. The Israelite nation had just defeated Sichon and Og in battle. In the "Nationalist" synagogues in the desert encampment, Hallel was being said with a blessing. Encouraged by the victories, Moshe sees this as an opportune time to beseech God to allow him to enter the Holy Land, but God says no. This teaches us that God’s promise regarding the Land of Israel is not unconditional. It can be defeated by sin.

This is the second time we are taught this lesson. The first time was when the promise to bring the generation that had left Egypt into the Holy Land was defeated by the sin of the Spies. The attempts to force God’s hand met with utter defeat. Alas, there is nothing inevitable about a particular group of people’s possession of the land. No victories are a sure sign that the promise will be fulfilled through them. We must merit possession of the Land.

In extreme circumstances, God might grant us a place in the Land without merit, to save us and to succor us. But this is not the rule. The rule is that when we do not merit entry into the Land, we will be doomed to see it from afar, without being able to enter. We can desire the Land of Israel with great yearning, yet that does not constitute sufficient merit. No one wanted to enter the Land more than Moshe, yet sin kept him from his desire. To deserve the Land we must become a society of spiritual excellence in all spheres of life, a nation of decency, in government and personal relations. Obsessive concentration on "Eretz Israel" should yield to concentrating on creating a meritorious nation. "Because of our sins, we were exiled from our land."

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