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When you’re supposed to be disobedient

Friday, 31 July, 2020 - 4:02 pm


We place a premium on etiquette and respect. If you ask someone for something numerous times and are repeatedly rejected, it’s rude to continue asking. But there is an exception to every rule and in this week’s parsha Moshe illustrates an instance where disregarding etiquette is the way to go.

After forty years in the desert the Jews faced grave danger when their water supply suddenly stopped. Moshe struck the rock with his staff instead of speaking to it as G-d had instructed and water gushed forth miraculously. As a result G-d decreed that Moshe would not merit to enter the land of Israel and would be buried in the desert together with the entire generation that had perished during their forty year sojourn.

Moshe prayed and pleaded to G-d to rescind the decree and allow him to enter the land of Israel. The opening words of this week’s parsha indicate that Moshe offered no less than 515 (!) unique supplications to this end and was repeatedly rejected, to the point that G-d warned him not to mention the request again.

There are several questions here. Firstly, why did Moshe continuously pray to enter the land of Israel if G-d had expressly told him it would not happen? Secondly, why did Moshe not accept G-d’s decree as Judaism teaches one must accept everything from G-d with joy? Most importantly, why is it relevant for us today to know that Moshe was rejected so many times?

The Talmud states that Moshe’s handiwork is eternal and could never be destroyed. Even the Tabernacle built by Moshe in the desert was buried and remains intact until today. If Moshe would have entered the land of Israel and built the Holy Temple it would never be destroyed and exile would never happen.

In other words, his entry to Israel would affect the ultimate redemption for all humanity. He wasn’t praying for his own sake, he was praying for the world.

Clearly G-d had other plans, but even after hearing directly from G-d that the time was not yet ripe for the ultimate redemption, Moshe stubbornly continued to pray and demand for it at great personal sacrifice, because when so much is at stake one should never accept reality as it is.

Moshe taught us that praying and demanding for redemption is not merely a reaction to national catastrophe or personal tragedy, but a moral obligation incumbent upon all of us to do everything we can to make our world a more perfect place.

Never tire from asking G-d to bring Moshiach, because it may very well be the next prayer you say or the next mitzvah you do that will tip the scales for the better and affect the perfection of the entire universe when peace and tranquility will reign for all.

(Adapted from Sichas Yud Alef Menachem Av 5751) 




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