VA’ETCHANAN

The Jewish Chronicle - - JUDAISM - RABBI BARRY LERER

“And I im­plored God at that time”

MOSES stood on Mt Nebo look­ing at the Land of Is­rael and he prayed in 515 dif­fer­ent ways, try­ing to find a way that would change God’s mind and let him in to the Holy Land.

He begged God to let him be a bird or even a stone, any­thing that would let him en­ter into the Land of Is­rael.

The rea­son why Moses was so ob­sessed with en­ter­ing Is­rael is be­cause he saw it as an op­por­tu­nity for spir­i­tual growth. He saw that the ho­li­ness of the Land could bring him to a yet higher level of ful­fil­ment. Moses did not want to leave this earth un­til he be­came ev­ery­thing he could pos­si­bly be­come.

He had al­ready distin­guished him­self as the great­est leader of all time and as the great­est prophet. Yet, as great as he was, he knew that the Land of Is­rael could bring him yet a step higher, greater and closer to God. He would not give up. He was not con­tent. He did not set­tle.

This is a stark les­son to many of us who feel that there is no need to spend more time learn­ing and ex­plor­ing our re­li­gion, who think “what I know is good enough”.

Akiva was a 40-year-old shep­herd who would take his sheep down to the wa­ter; when he saw the drips of wa­ter make an im­pres­sion on a stone, from that he un­der­stood that he needed the words of To­rah to make an im­pres­sion on him.

He ded­i­cated his life to To­rah study and be­came the fa­mous Rabbi Akiva. At 40 years old Akiva changed. He didn’t say to him­self, “I am too old. I am all right as I am.” Rather, he re­alised he could grow and he did.

One can never stop yearn­ing for growth.

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