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‘See Forever Eyes’ Parashat Va’etchanan 5782

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Moshe stands on the east bank of the Jordan River, just a stone’s throw from the Land of Canaan. As far as he is concerned, though, he could be standing a million miles away. Because of one sin he committed, he was forever forbidden from entering the land and was destined to die in the wilderness. In a last ditch attempt to change the ruling, he petitions G-d [Devarim 3:25]: “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”. G-d is unswayed and He declines Moshe’s petition. Instead, He makes Moshe a counteroffer [Devarim 3:27]: “Go up to the summit of Pisgah and gaze to the west, the north, the south, and the east. See it with your eyes, for you shall not go across the Jordan.”

At first glance, G-d seems to be throwing salt on the wounds. He tells Moshe to climb a mountain, where he will be able to see a land that he will never enter. You can look but you can’t touch. Why even bother? Further, why does G-d tell Moshe to cast his eyes in all four directions, including the east? The Jewish People were encamped on the east bank of the Jordan River. Looking towards the east would place modern-day Jordan and Saudi Arabia in his line of sight and these places do not lie within the borders of the Land of Israel. What could Moshe gain by looking in that direction?

Before we address these questions, we direct our attention to scripture’s description of Moshe’s final moments in which he actually climbs the summit of Pisgah [Devarim 34:1-4]: “Moshe went up from the steppes of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the summit of Pisgah, opposite Jericho, and G-d showed him the whole land: Gilead as far as Dan. all Naphtali; the land of Ephraim and Manasseh; the whole land of Judah as far as the Western Sea. The Negeb; and the Plain – the Valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees – as far as Zoar. G-d said to him, ‘This is the Land I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your offspring.’ I have shown it to you with your eyes, but you shall not........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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