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Moses’ last action in this world was to gaze at the Land of Israel

Aug 7, 2021

וַיַּ֨עַל מֹשֶׁ֜ה מֵעַרְבֹ֤ת מוֹאָב֙ אֶל־הַ֣ר נְב֔וֹ רֹ֚אשׁ הַפִּסְגָּ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֖ר עַל־פְּנֵ֣י יְרֵח֑וֹ וַיַּרְאֵ֨הוּ יְהֹוָ֧ה אֶת־כׇּל־הָאָ֛רֶץ אֶת־הַגִּלְעָ֖ד עַד־דָּֽן׃

Moshe went up from the steppes of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the summit of Pisgah, opposite Yericho, and Hashem showed him the whole land: Gilad as far as Dan;

va-YA-al mo-SHEH may-ar-VOT mo-AV el HAR n'-VO ROSH ha-pis-GAH a-SHER al p'-NAY y'-ray-KHO va-yar-AY-hu a-do-NAI et kol ha-A-retz et ha-gil-AD ad DAN

Deuteronomy 34:1

As the leader of the Jewish people, Moses involved himself with all matters of concern to the nation. He led them out of Egypt, taught them the Torah, acted as the go-between between the nation and God and prayed on their behalf when they sinned. He was a leader par excellence. And yet, his final activity in this world was devoted to one area alone: Moses ascended the mountain of Nebo and gazed upon the Land of Israel.

The Talmud (Sotah 14a) asks: Why did Moses desire to enter the Land of Israel? Was it to enjoy its fruits or to satiate himself of its bounty? The Talmud answers that Moses’ desire was a spiritual one; he craved an opportunity to keep the commandments unique to the Land of Israel.

While he was not permitted to enter, being allowed to view the land was a comfort to Moses, as he understood that even just seeing it propels a person to new spiritual heights. Similarly, there are people today who access high balconies in the Old City of Jerusalem in order to view the Temple Mount. They appreciate the spiritual benefit they can get just from seeing this holy sight.

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