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עשה תורתך קבע – אמור מעט ועשה הרבה

Seeking HaShem

Posted by rabbiart on August 12, 2008

The opening verse of our parshah this week strikes me as a verse which is “all we need to know”.  At the end of parshat Devarim Moshe was telling the story of how the promised land was apportioned.  Here is Moshe, relaying the assignment of the Promised Land to the tribes, yet he already knew he would not enter the Land.

Moshe – in the moment – turns to HaShem with his own request. He “entreats” HaShem to let him enter the land.  He asks for a gift.  As Rashi explains

[The word] חִנּוּן [and its derivatives] in all cases is an expression signifying [requesting] a free gift. Even though the righteous may base a request on the merit of their good deeds, they request only a free gift of the Omnipresent.

Unlike our daughter and son-in-law (shameless wedding reference) who could register on websites and hope to “get what they wanted” as presents, Moshe is entirely dependent on G-d’s will for his “gift”.  Moshe wants to enter the Promised Land, if anyone “deserves” to enter the land, it is Moshe.  The land was promised to all Israelites, so why not Moshe? Moshe does not get what he asks for; he is not allowed to enter the land. What are we to make of this? How are we to understand that “the greatest Jew ever” makes a simple request to HaShem… and he is turned down!

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