Moshe was going to die before entering Eretz Yisroel. Yet, his tefillos were answered, and he was given permission to view the holy land, and to see a vision of the land and the history of the Jewish people. When this consent was granted, the verse seems to use a double expression. First, Moshe was told “lift up your eyes”. This directive was followed with the instructions “and see”, which apparently is the obvious purpose of his having lifted up his eyes.
One of the objectives of tefillah is for a person to arrive at an understanding that “the ways of Hashem are correct”, and that everything Hashem does is for the best. This appreciation is realized when one’s prayers are directed toward building a relationship with Hashem, a devotion based upon trust. When a person seeks out Hashem, he arrives at a state of (Tehillim 34:11): “those who seek Hashem will not lack any good.” Finally, through prayer a person achieves the ability “to see – וראה ” and to feel a sense of tranquility and satisfaction in his heart to truly accept all that Hashem does as perfect.
When Moshe ascended to the mountain and looked across at Eretz Yisroel, this might have seemed as if his prayers were not fulfilled, contrary to what the Gemara says. Yet, at this point, Moshe’s degree of perception of the will of Hashem was complete. He now felt totally accepting of the decree for him not to enter the land, and he perceived how this was for the best. He was now satisfied that there could be no better answer to his prayers other than to obey the command for him to remain on the east side of the Jordan, and not to enter the land.
גדולה תפילה שהרי משה נענה … שנאמר עלה ראש הפסגה
“Davening – Lift your eyes and see”
Daf Yomi Digest
What I’m going to say has been said before, I’m sure. In fact, I’m sure that at some point, I said all this before, too. And yet, to read this “insight” on Berachos 32 and to consider the life and impending death of Moses is just to precious and important not to share.
I can’t even begin to imagine the heartbreak Moses must have experienced at being allowed to view the entire Land of Israel, and yet knowing that instead of being allowed to lead his people into the Land, he was going to die. He was going to have to let Joshua take over his work. Most of all, he was going to have to trust God in a way that he never had before.
Think about it.
All of the times when God was about to wipe out the Children of Israel, Moses was there to intervene on their behalf. When tens of thousands were dying of a plague or poisonous snake bites, Moses prayed. When the Children of Israel were at war and losing a battle, Moses prayed. The Children of Israel survived down to the last man, woman, and child because Moses was there to protect them, even from God.
And now he is looking across the expanse of the Land of promise and he knows that whatever happens after this point, he won’t be there to protect his people anymore.
What a bitter day it must have been for him.
And yet, according to the Midrash, Moses was able to finally arrive at a sort of peace about everything. After all, what choice did he have? But then, what choice to we have?
I’ve talked about trusting God before and I’m sure I mentioned that it isn’t easy. It isn’t easy when you desperately need a job and you are trusting God to provide sufficiently for your family until you find suitable employment. It isn’t easy to watch your wife undergo yet another round of chemotherapy, never knowing what the outcome will be and if the tumors will shrink or grow. It isn’t easy living a life that presents only the illusion of control over every critical detail, and realizing that an invisible and almost always silent God is the one who opens His hand and provides for your every need.
But when Moses looked over the Land of Israel for the first and last time, knowing his lifespan was measured only in minutes, he understood and was “satisfied that there could be no better answer to his prayers other than to obey the command for him to remain on the east side of the Jordan, and not to enter the land.” If only that sense of satisfaction and grace could be experienced by the rest of us.
A person who learns to pray properly can understand what the words of the Chazon Ish in “Emunah Ubitochon”:
“When a person merits becoming aware of the reality of the Almighty’s existence, he will experience limitless joy. His soul is enveloped in sanctity, and it is as though the soul has left the body and floats in the upper Heavens. When a person transcends to this level, an entirely new world is open to him. It is possible for a person to be momentarily like a celestial being, [while at the same time] in this world. All of the pleasures of this world are as nothing compared to the intense pleasure of a person cleaving to his Creator.”
Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
“Cleave to the Almighty in Prayer, Daily Lift #565”