Parasha Inspiration – Devarim

אִם־יִרְאֶ֥ה אִישׁ֙ בָּֽאֲנָשִׁ֣ים הָאֵ֔לֶּה הַדּ֥וֹר הָרָ֖ע הַזֶּ֑ה אֵ֚ת הָאָ֣רֶץ הַטּוֹבָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר נִשְׁבַּ֔עְתִּי לָתֵ֖ת לַֽאֲבֹֽתֵיכֶֽם: זֽוּלָתִ֞י כָּלֵ֤ב בֶּן־יְפֻנֶּה֙ ה֣וּא יִרְאֶ֔נָּה וְלֽוֹ־אֶתֵּ֧ן אֶת־הָאָ֛רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֥ר דָּֽרַךְ־בָּ֖הּ וּלְבָנָ֑יו יַ֕עַן אֲשֶׁ֥ר מִלֵּ֖א אַֽחֲרֵ֥י יְהֹוָֽה: גַּם־בִּי֙ הִתְאַנַּ֣ף יְהֹוָ֔ה בִּגְלַלְכֶ֖ם לֵאמֹ֑ר גַּם־אַתָּ֖ה לֹֽא־תָבֹ֥א שָֽׁם:

‘If any of these men of this evil generation sees the good land, which I swore to give your forefathers, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh he will see it, and I will give him the land he trod upon, and to his children, because he has completely followed the Lord.” The Lord was also angry with me because of you, saying, “Neither will you go there.”

Devarim 1:35-37

וַיַּקְצִיפוּ עַל־מֵ֣י מְרִיבָ֑ה וַיֵּ֥רַע לְ֜מֹשֶׁ֗ה בַּֽעֲבוּרָֽם: כִּֽי־הִמְר֥וּ אֶת־רוּח֑וֹ וַ֜יְבַטֵּ֗א בִּשְׂפָתָֽיו:

They provoked [God] by the waters of Meribah, and Moses suffered because of them. For they rebelled against His spirit, and He uttered with His lips.

Psalm 106:32-33

Why was Moses not allowed to enter the land of the promise? It is often taught that Moses was denied the ability to come into the land of the promise because he struck the rock in order that water would gush forth. Hashem told Moshe to strike the rock the first time. The second time, Moshe was told to speak to the rock. He struck it instead. Was this transgression enough to keep Moshe Rabeinu from being able to enter the land? No, it was not the striking of the rock. It was for a different, very important, reason that we see in this week’s Torah portion and in Psalm 106.

Deuteronomy 1:36 tells us that Hashem was angry with Moses because of the children of Israel. It does not say that Hashem was angry with Moses because he struck a rock. Hashem was angry with Moses because of the children of Israel. Psalm 106 explains that Moses suffered because of the children of Israel. Moses’ suffering is that he is not allowed into the land of the promise. Moses had a failure in leadership, and leaders are held to a higher standard.

            Part of Moses’ job as leader was to cajole and entice the children of Israel into sanctifying Hashem. He failed to do this. We know he failed because the children of Israel never stopped griping and complaining. Hashem led us out of Egypt with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, and we complained. We were hungry, he gave us mon, and we complained. We were thirsty, he gave us water, and we complained. We were tired of mon, so he gave us quail, and we complained. The complaining never stopped. We did not sanctify Hashem. Because of Moses’ position as leader, in addition to the fault being upon the children of Israel, the fault also lies with Moses. Therefore, he is not allowed into the land. So Moshe Rabeinu died being able to see the land, but not enter it. His merits allows the children of Israel, flawed as we may be, to enter the land. Shabbat shalom.

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Rabbi Steven Bernstein

Steve was born on Lag B’Omer in Ann Arbor, MI but was raised in Gainesville, FL. The son of two University of Florida professors, he excelled in the sciences in school. In addition to his normal academic studies, he pursued his Jewish education studying with many Rabbis and professors of Judaic Studies from the University including visiting Rabbis such as Abraham Joshua Heschel and Shlomo Carlebach.