Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Parshas Vaeschanan

Moshe's Lesson of Acceptance

We all believe in the power of prayer. There have been controversial but yet seemingly proven studies that have shown that somehow prayer and being prayed for are of definite physical help to the sick, the bereaved and the troubled. Yet prayer oftentimes leaves us unfulfilled and unanswered. Prayer does not seemingly avert disasters, sadness and even tragedies.

All of us face the challenge of unanswered prayer, when our hopes and requests are apparently ignored and refused by Heaven. Many times this fact of life causes a crisis of faith and belief within a person. King David in his Psalms reflects on this issue many times. The book of Iyov deals with it as well. And to a certain extent it is the main issue raised in this week’s parsha.

Moshe’s prayers are not answered. In fact the Lord instructs him to stop raising the issue of his entry into the Land of Israel with Heaven. There is a finality to Heaven’s refusal to answer or even deal with Moshe’s prayers any longer. Moshe’s prayers, which have saved his people, his brother and sister and others from Heavenly wrath, are now of no effect regarding his own personal request.

The rabbis of the Talmud phrased it succinctly: “The prisoner himself cannot free himself, by himself, from his own confinement.” Moshe will not lead his beloved people into the promised Land of Israel. His time has ended and his prayer will forever remain unanswered. There is therefore a note of inevitable sadness that hovers over this parsha.

Over the millennia of Jewish commentary and exposition of the Torah many reasons have been advanced as to why Moshe’s prayer was so finally and flatly rebuffed. Among the ideas advanced is that the time for Yehoshua’s leadership had arrived and that “the dominion of one ruler cannot overlap the dominion of his successor even by a hair’s breadth.”

Another thought advanced is that Moshe’s generation would not enter the Land of Israel so it would be an apparent unseemly favoritism for Moshe alone to be able to do so. A third idea is that Moshe would appear to the new generation entering the Land of Israel as a supernatural figure, a type of god in a world of pagan belief that regularly deified humans, especially national leaders. Therefore, for the sake of Israel itself, he could not be allowed to lead them into the Land of Israel.

As valid as all of these ideas are, the blunt truth is that we cannot read God’s mind, so to speak. Living human beings, the finite, can never grasp the Infinite One. So we must be satisfied to remain unsatisfied in our search for the reasons for unanswered prayers.

Our true refuge lies in faith and acceptance of the unknowable. This in no way weakens the resolve and necessity to continue praying. It merely lowers our levels of expectation and tempers our hubris that somehow Heaven must follow our wishes and dictates. Moshe accepts the fact that his prayers will now go unanswered. His example serves as a lesson for all of us.

Shabat shalom.
Rabbi Berel Wein


Crash course in Jewish history

Rabbi Berel Wein- Jewish historian, author and international lecturer offers a complete selection of CDs, audio tapes, video tapes, DVDs, and books on Jewish history at www.rabbiwein.com


 






ARTICLES ON DEVARIM AND THE THREE WEEKS:

View Complete List

What Causes One to be Appreciative?
Rabbi Yosef Kalatsky - 5763

Harsh Hugs
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5765

Body Language
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5770

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Don't Flaunt It
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5771

Soft Sell
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5763

Born To Be Wise
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5766

> Visionary Words
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5759

Small Allusions
Rabbi Chaim Flom - 5767

That's Not What Friends Are For
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5772

ArtScroll

Harnessing Powers
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5761

The Darkest Corner
Rabbi Label Lam - 5763

All Israel
Rabbi Label Lam - 5770

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

When Moshiach Comes
Rabbi Label Lam - 5768

The Laws of Kashrus: Is it techinical or something deeper?
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5773

By The Rivers of Babylon...
Shlomo Katz - 5759

No Empty Matter
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5766



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information