A Thought for the Week
Moshe stood on Har Nevo on the Eastside of the Jordan. He looked at
Eretz Yisroel. The Torah records that from that point he was able to see across Israel all the way to the Mediterranean. He saw North all the way
to Lebanon and South to the Negev. If any of us would have stood exactly where Moshe stood we would not have seen anything but desert! But a
miracle must have taken place and Moshe saw it all. He saw Yerushalayim. He saw the place of the
Bais HaMikdash. He saw the beautiful waterfalls
of the Banyas. He saw the hot springs of Tiberias. According to the Medrash
he saw the future. He saw the greening of the desert, the skyscrapers, the hotels along the Kinneret, the Borsa in Tel Aviv, the
Yeshivos of Bnei Brak - He saw everything and he prayed. He prayed 515 different ways, trying to
find an angle that would change G-d’s mind and let him walk the Land of Israel. ‘Let me become a bird, a stone, a wind
current, a dog, I don’t care - I just want to enter Israel.’
There is only one reason Moshe was so obsessed with entering Israel. He saw an opportunity for spiritual growth. He saw that the Kedushas Haaretz could bring him to a yet higher level of fulfillment. Moshe did not want to leave this Earth until he became everything he could possibly become.
Moshe had already distinguished himself as the greatest
leader of all time and as the greatest Prophet. Yet, as great as Moshe Rabeinu was, he knew
Eretz Yisroel could bring him yet a step higher, greater and closer to Hashem. He wouldn’t give up.
Hashem said to Moshe, there are many things you could have said to
Korach but you chose to say “Rav lochem” – you told them they don’t have
to grow anymore, you told them they have enough. Now that you want to go to Israel and become that much greater I’ll give you back your same
words – Rav loch - enough. (Talmud Sotah 13)
In the world of business, economics and professions we know we shouldn’t settle. We don’t tell our children high school is good enough, we don’t tell them as long as you can make a living. We support them, we encourage them to go further, to never stop growing and climbing. Perhaps that is the way it should be. We must be sure though that we have at least the same standards in spiritual growth. Are our children the best Torah scholars they can be? Are we reviewing Tosafos with every spare minute? Are we settling?
We know that the reason Moshe was held back from entering Eretz Yisroel is because he hit the rock to bring forth water instead of talking to it. To be sure, a Kiddush HaShem was made. The people had water in the desert and understood that it came from G-d. Not bad – but Moshe could have done more. He could have made a bigger Kiddush HaShem. Moshe settled. The rock, Korach, it’s all the same thing – Rav loch – good enough. Hashems precise response was that Moshe too should settle. No need for you to go into Eretz Yisroel, Rav Loch – you have accomplished enough, you are high and lofty enough.
One can never stop yearning for growth. And one must never deny another human being the opportunity for growth.
With Tisha B’Av behind us and comfort before us, let’s take the lesson seriously. There was a certain Ayin HaRa towards one’s colleagues, a tendency to put the other person down, to deny him his greatness that existed during the time of the Second Temple and unfortunately still exists.
The antidote; be an enabler for growth. Let your spouse, your children, your friends, and yourself take off. Encourage them, say the right words and never, never say “Rav lochem”.
May HaShem take our Tisha B’Av tears and make with them comfort. May today’s holiday of Tu B’Av be a new beginning for Klal Yisroel. May our communities and families grow to the greatest heights. May Hashem allow us to reach Yerushalayim with safety, song, and dance.
Rabbi Yaacov Haber
Rabbi Haber is the OU's National Director of Jewish Education and the spiritual leader of the OU's Pardes Program
Comments and questions are very welcome
"A tree of life for those who embrace it"