|This week’s portion begins with the words “Va’etchanan el-Hashem Ba’et Haheev?—Then I pleaded with the Lord at that time…” These were Moses’ words when he was desperately requesting God’s permission to enter the Promised Land. Moses, with his entire being, wanted to enter into the Land promised to his forefathers; he wanted to see the Land, which flowed with milk and honey.|
The word “Va’etchanan?—And I Pleaded” is equal in Gematria (a numerological system by which Hebrew letters correspond to numbers) to the number 515. Another word which is equal to the number 515 is the word “Tefilah—Prayer.” The sages teach us that Moses prayed/pleaded with God 515 times to be able to enter the Promised Land. Finally, in Numbers 3:26 it says God was angry with Moses on account of the people of Israel and said to Moses “Rav Lach.” It is funny how the “God’s Word” translation renders these two words into English. They translate “Rav Lach” as “That’s enough out of you!” And perhaps, that is what God meant…however; in the Talmud (Sotah 13b) we get a different translation/understanding from these two words. You see, when Moses rebuked Korah in Numbers 16, he used the words “Rav Lachem B’nei Levi—You take too much upon yourselves, you sons of Levi!” Notice that Moses uses the words “Rav Lach—You take too much on yourself” which could also be translated as “You have enough.”
During the episode of Korah’s rebellion, the rebellion happened because of dissatisfaction with each mans allotment. Korah wanted to be in charge, the men of Reuben wanted recognition. Instead of being satisfied and recognizing the truth of Moses’ words, “Rav Lach— You have enough,” they wanted more.
God is reminding Moses of his very own words. He (God) is instructing Moses to not become dissatisfied with his portion like Korah did in the wilderness. God is telling Moses “Rav Lach— You have enough.” How many times do we forget all we have received from God because we are focusing on the one thing we really wanted and didn’t gain? I believe God sometimes puts things in our life to motivate us to get to a certain point, and then He removes that motivator, because our goal wasn’t necessarily His goal. As our Rabbi Yeshua said in Matthew 16, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul.” I believe we can also read this verse as, “What profit is it to a man if he gets everything he wants in life, and misses the greater goals meant for him alone to accomplish.”
In the words of Jim Elliot, a missionary who’s story has impacted generations, he said the famous words “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Sometimes we hold onto the visions, dreams and goals of our own because surrendering everything to God means we won’t get what we want from life. We’re afraid that giving ourselves completely over to God will or as I wrote about last week “Bittul Hayesh—Self-Nullification” will not allow us to become who we were meant to be. And we think by holding onto our meager plans, it will actually bring them to fruition. We are, in the words of C.S. Lewis, “half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” We don’t realize when we give ourselves completely over to God is when we truly become who we were created to be. In Deuteronomy 4:4 Moses says, “V’atem Had’vekim B’Hashem Elokeichem Chaim Kulchem HaYom—But you who held fast to the Lord your God are alive today, every one of you.”
|In the Hebrew we read the word “Had’vekim” which is translated in this verse as “held fast.” However, in Modern Hebrew the root of this word, which is “Devek,” means “Glue.” The Rabbis ask a question in the Talmud (Sotah 14a) concerning the possibility of “gluing” oneself to God. Rabbi Chanina says, “is it actually possible for a person to follow the Divine Presence? But hasn’t it already been stated: “For the Lord your God is a devouring fire, a jealous God” (Deuteronomy 4:24), and one cannot approach fire. He explains: Rather, the meaning is that one should follow the attributes of the Holy One, Blessed be He.”|
We ‘glue’ ourselves to God by walking in His attributes, meaning we become more like Him. As we become more like Him, we become more individualistic beings, not less.
In the words of the Lubavitcher Rebbe from the book “Daily Wisdom,” he says, “What we normally mistake for our personality is really our secondary, animalistic side. Since we share the same animal drives with the rest of humanity, the personality born of these drives is, at best, a variation on the common theme by which everyone lives…[it] is in fact an illusion. In contrast, since God is infinite, the avenues through which His Divinity can manifest itself through us are also infinite…”
When we surrender ourselves over to God’s will, we open ourselves up to the infinite possibilities that only come from gluing oneself to the Creator. However, once we’re ready to surrender, then comes the next question, “What is God’s will/purpose for my life?” I love Moshe Kempinski’s answer to this query. He says, “If you want to know God’s purpose in your life, look right in front of you. It’s right there.” The problem is too often we’re watching someone else’s movie, or reading someone else’s book. That’s not to say reading books or watching films is a bad thing. But if what we’re putting into our mind isn’t stirring us onward in writing our own story for His glory, then we’re wasting our time. We can’t live someone else’s story and neither can we create our own story sitting in front of the tube. Don’t be glued to the screen; become glued to the King!
In this portion, we read a verse from Deuteronomy 4:35 which says “Ein Od Mil’vado.” These three words are generally translated as “There is none other besides Him.” The reason many translators translate this verse as such is because when you literally translate this verse word for word, it comes out sounding rather weird. The literal translation of this verse would be “There is nothing other than Him.” Meaning that everything in this world and beyond is an extension of Him. Nothing exists apart from Him. As God’s children we must trust even as David trusted, “Tov-Atah U’Metiv—You (God) are good, and do good.” Kristi Walker writes in an article titled ‘Is God good all the time?’ “If we doubt the goodness of God, it is only because darkness has clouded our ability to see clearly.” Interestingly enough, in this Parsha/Portion we read that God revealed Himself to Israel “…from the midst of the fire, the cloud, and the thick darkness…” So when we see figurative storm clouds painted in the canvas of life up ahead, remember, they are telling us, God is near. Don’t be afraid of the dark clouds ahead, don’t be afraid in the middle of the storm; remember that the “eye of the storm” is one of the safest places to be. These are times we need to be shaken. Why? So we look back to our Foundation. As Isaiah the Prophet and Rav Shaul wrote, “Listen to Me, you who follow after righteousness, You who seek the LORD: Look to the rock from which you were hewn, And to the hole of the pit from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your father…[for] you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Yeshua Messiah Himself being the chief cornerstone.”
The dark clouds, in which we find God, are there only to make us look to our foundation = the apostles and the prophets and to know the love of God represented by His chosen chief-cornerstone, Yeshua our Messiah. We are building upon the work and labor of generations. Many have gone before us and prepared the way, but the work is not finished. We must finish what the many “Greats” before us have started. Before I finish, I must ask one last question; why did Moses not enter the Promised Land? Most would say it’s because of his actions at the waters of Merivah, when he struck the rock instead of speaking to it. (Numbers 20)
|I would challenge this idea by saying, the reason Moses didn’t enter the Promised Land is because his work was not completed. Moses died in the wilderness because his job has yet to be finished. Remember, God in Numbers 14:30 says, “Except for Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun, you shall by no means enter the land…” |
This was way before Moses ever struck the Rock at Merivah. For 38 years, Moses already knew he wouldn’t be entering the Promised Land. Yet, he still pleaded with God 515 times to be allowed to enter. God told Moses “Rav Lach— You have enough.” Meaning be content with your lot. But why did Moses have to die in the wilderness and also, what is future job of Moshe Rabbeinu/Moses our Teacher?
First Fruits of Zion has a very interesting idea they brought up in one of their articles concerning why Moses could not enter the Promised Land. They write: “Such is the fate of the righteous. Though they do not share in the sin of their generation, they often share in its punishment…how ironic that the final fulfillment of the covenant promise depended upon the death of Israel’s redeemer.” Moses had to die, to allow the next generation to enter the Land of Canaan. However, Moses also had to die in the wilderness because his job is to bring all exiles into the Promised Land. A whole generation perished in the wilderness and has yet to enter into the Land flowing with milk and honey. In the end of days, at the resurrection, Moses will once again arise out of dust of the wilderness and bring back all the exiles to the Promised Land. May it be soon and in our days that we all are gathered as “those who have victory over the beast…[and may we] sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying: ‘Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints! Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, for Your judgments have been manifested.’” These songs are truly the sound of the exiles being gathered back to God, for even as the Lord did in Moses’ time, He will do again. As it says in Isaiah 51; did not the Lord “…dry up the sea, the waters of the great deep; [He also] made the depths of the sea a road for the redeemed to cross over?” Therefore, a time is coming when “The ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads.” May it be soon and in our days that the Galut (Exile) is over and Geulah (Redemption) springs forth!Grace and peace from God’s bondservant,