Thursday, July 26, 2018

the nechana in Moshe's tefilah

What's the connection between the end of the previous parsha -- where Moshe charges Yehoshua not to fear war against Canaan because G-d will help with that conquest just like he helped with the conquest of the lands of Sichon and Og -- and the tefilah of Moshe which opens our parsha? 

Ramban (see also Ibn Ezra) explains that there is a gap in the narrative that Moshe is filling in. Moshe told us at the end of last week's parsha that Yehoshua would be in charge, but he never explained why he would not be filling that role himself.   Our parsha fills in the rest of the story.

I am not sure how Ramban would explain why the Torah needs to record the entire tefilah of Moshe in all its detail.  The only point that we need in order to close the narrative gap is the fact that G-d rejected Moshe's tefilah for whatever reason.  In fact, all we really need to know is that Moshe sinned and would therefore not be allowed to enter Eretz Yisrael.   
Alshich suggests that the Torah here is delivering a powerful psychological boost to the people.  Moshe records his tefilah as a nechama (Shabbos Nachamu!) to Klal Yisrael.  Imagine the people's reaction to hearing that Yehoshua would be the one in charge: You took us this far and are now abandoning us?  You took us this far and now are giving up the fight?  So Moshe tells them that's not the case.  To the contrary, he davened because he wanted to join them and continue the journey.  He was even willing to give up his role as leader and enter Eretz Yisrael as just a simple Jew, a regular member of the klal, if only to be with them at that moment when they were zocheh to come into the land.  Moshe was in effect telling the people look at the great effort I made through tefilah so as not to forsake you.
Hashem turned Moshe down, "Va'yisaber Hashem l'ma'anchem," for the sake of the people.  Moshe spent his life working miracles; the dor de'ah of the midbar needed that type of leadership.  The generation which entered Eretz Yisrael had to find G-d in the mundane world -- no miracles.  Their leader is Yehoshua.  Moshe here told the people that G-d had to turn his prayers down because his neshoma was needed in chutz la'aretz, in the midbar, because he was the eternal leader of the dor de'ah; at the time of ultimate redemption he would need to be there to lead them into Eretz Yisrael. 
Alshich writes that we see from here that no Jewish soul is forsaken.  The dor de'ah were stuck in the midbar because they rejected Eretz Yisrael and trusted in the report of the meraglim.  They took the word of the spies over that of Moshe, Aharon, Yehoshua, and Kaleiv.  Nonetheless, G-d did not let Moshe enter Eretz Yisrael so as to allow for the future redemption of even these souls.
We've discussed What of the souls of the dor ha'midbar, the generation Moshe served as the leader of for some many years?  Who would lead them to Eretz Yisrael in the future if there was no Moshe Rabeinu?  Therefore, Moshe had to remain outside the land.  Amazing: to bring the generation who had sinned with the meraglim and rejected the land eventually into the land, Moshe is denied the privilege he so wanted.  To prevent Jewish souls from being lost, Hashem denied the dying request of the great Moshe.


  1. "at the time of ultimate redemption"

    at that time, Moshe will present to the dor de'ah one last miracle (for old time's sake), utilizing the 'speak to the rock' endowment that he didn't use before (Bamidbar 20:8,11), a one-shot trigger silently in reserve for millenia; the resurrected dor will make a 'L'chaim!'* over the resulting water (and Moshe respond 'amein!' ['my children have corrected me, my children have corrected me'-- his 'rebels' ascription]);

    when Moshe finally leads them through Beit Lechem (and from there into the land), Rachel will be awaiting with a smile, her eyes wet with joy, to hand to each and every** returnee a ketones pasim woven of fresh-shorn wool...

    *better known as tikun dor ha'de'ah

    **the ultimate tikun Rachel

  2. Good. This reminds me of the Sfas Emes you've mentioned that Moshe's tefillos were on behalf of those that cannot daven for themselves, for the people that are meya'eish.
    I'd appreciate it if you could tell me what you have on this question: Aharon, and Miriam, were even less blameworthy than Moshe, as Rashi says from the Sifrei later in 33:8, תריבהו וגו': כתרגומו. דבר אחר תריבהו על מי מריבה נסתקפת לו לבוא בעלילה, אם משה אמר (במדבר כ, י) שמעו נא המורים, אהרן ומרים מה עשו. So why do we hear so much about Moshe Rabbeinu's tefillos, and nothing at all about Aharon's tefillos? Why wouldn't he have davened to enter EY? And he ought to have had a better chance.
    I'd appreciate your thoughts.

    1. The question is better than my answer, but off the cuff I would say that Moshe only davened after he had entered the territory of Sichon v'Og, which let him entertain the thought that the gezeirah might be rescinded. We don't see him davening before that point because there was not even a hava amina that it would have made a difference.
      Since Aharon died earlier than the time of "ba'eis ha'hi" when tefilah was appropriate, he never tried.

      A second answer: maybe Aharon and Miriam did daven, but that's between them and G-d. Moshe's tefilah is only recorded because it is an implicit tochacha (it was denied because of them, or as the Ishbitzer writes, it implicit criticism is that none of them davened for Moshe) or nechama (like the Alshich) for Klal Yisrael.