Let me see Eretz Yisrael – Shabbat Kodesh Parshat Vaetchanan

This week’s Parsha starts famously with the heartfelt plea by Moshe Rabeinu: 

וָאֶתְחַנַּ֖ן אֶל־יְהֹוָ֑ה בָּעֵ֥ת הַהִ֖וא לֵאמֹֽר׃ אֲדֹנָ֣י יֱהֹוִ֗ה אַתָּ֤ה הַֽחִלּ֙וֹתָ֙ לְהַרְא֣וֹת אֶֽת־עַבְדְּךָ֔ אֶ֨ת־גׇּדְלְךָ֔ וְאֶת־יָדְךָ֖ הַחֲזָקָ֑ה אֲשֶׁ֤ר מִי־אֵל֙ בַּשָּׁמַ֣יִם וּבָאָ֔רֶץ אֲשֶׁר־יַעֲשֶׂ֥ה כְמַעֲשֶׂ֖יךָ וְכִגְבוּרֹתֶֽךָ׃ אֶעְבְּרָה־נָּ֗א וְאֶרְאֶה֙ אֶת־הָאָ֣רֶץ הַטּוֹבָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֖ר בְּעֵ֣בֶר הַיַּרְדֵּ֑ן הָהָ֥ר הַטּ֛וֹב הַזֶּ֖ה וְהַלְּבָנֹֽן׃

“I pleaded with Hashem  at that time, saying, ‘O lord Hashem, You who let Your servant see the first works of Your greatness and Your mighty hand, You whose powerful deeds no god in heaven or on earth can equal! Let me, I pray, cross over and see the good land on the other side of the Jordan that good hill country and the Lebanon.’”

Chazal (Sotah 14.) add the following: 

דָּרַשׁ רַבִּי שִׂמְלַאי מִפְּנֵי מָה נִתְאַוָּה מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּינוּ לִיכָּנֵס לְאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל וְכִי לֶאֱכוֹל מִפִּרְיָהּ הוּא צָרִיךְ אוֹ לִשְׂבּוֹעַ מִטּוּבָהּ הוּא צָרִיךְ אֶלָּא כָּךְ אָמַר מֹשֶׁה הַרְבֵּה מִצְוֹת נִצְטַוּוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאֵין מִתְקַיְּימִין אֶלָּא בְּאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶכָּנֵס אֲנִי לָאָרֶץ כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּתְקַיְּימוּ כּוּלָּן עַל יָדִי

“Rabbi Simlai taught: For what reason did Moses our teacher greatly desire to enter Eretz Yisrael? Did he need to eat of its produce, or did he need to satisfy himself from its goodness? Rather, this is what Moses said: Many mitzvot were commanded to the Jewish people, and some of them can be fulfilled only in Eretz Yisrael, so I will enter the land in order that they can all be fulfilled by me.”

I was wondering, why would the Talmud not accept that Moshe Rabeinu (even after having spent 40 days without food or drink, at Mount Sinai) retained the nature of a human being, and – yes – he did want to be in Eretz Yisrael in person, as it was the Promised Land for which we have waited so long? 

Perhaps, the Talmud relates, not to the basic wish he had to enter Eretz Yisrael. This indeed needs no further explanation. However, we learn that he has prayed 515 Tefilot (The number of ואתחנן=515 ) and this is what the Talmud was exploring. “Was Moshe Rabeinu Mitpalel 515 Tefilot “only” in order to “see” the land? – to which it gives the answer as above.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Chaim Michael Biberfeld