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Creation By Sight

R Pesach Siegel

Parshat Vaeschanan

Jul 19, 2013

Parshas Va'Eschanan


 Klal Yisroel was about to enter Eretz Yisroel. Moshe Rabeinu would not be accompanying them.

 Hashem commanded Moshe Rabeinu to bring forth water for the Bnei Yisroel by speaking to the rock. Moshe erred. Instead, he struck the rock.[1]

 It was decreed that he would perish in the desert. No amount of pleading would change the verdict.

 Moshe was compensated.

 Hashem told him that although he would not be permitted to enter the Land of Israel, much greater things await him. So much more is hidden away for him.[2]

 Moshe Rabeinu prayed to be able to pass through the land and see it.

 Hashem instructed him to go up to the heights, from there he would see the land, but he may not enter.[3]

 Questions

 Why is Moshe Rabeinu told to wait for much greater things? If his sin prevented him from entering into Eretz Yisroel in the present, why wouldn’t it cause him to lose his future reward?

 What lies behind Moshe Rabeinu’s wish to pass through and see the land? It is as if his only motive for entering the land is in order to see it.

 What comfort does Moshe find in being allowed to see Eretz Yisroel?

 How is his punishment fitting for the crime of hitting the rock?

 Analysis

 Let us attempt to understand the desire of Moshe to gaze upon the land.

 The gemora quotes Rav Yehuda in the name of Shmuel. All the land that was shown to Moshe Rabeinu by Hashem is obligated in maaser.[4] There is clear connection between Moshe Rabeinu resting his eyes on the Land of Israel its inherent holiness. 

 The sense of sight is what enables us to define what we see. It gives us a sense of form. One can hear about something, and it can be described vividly in all its particulars, but “Seeing is believing.”  There is nothing vague about something that is seen with the eyes.

 The Torah, in Parshas Breishis, tells us that when Hashem completed each stage in creation He gazed at it and pronounced it "tov". This gazing is part of the process of creation. Before Hashem beheld the world with the sense of sight, creation lacked definition. Had we been there at that moment we would have been unable to see anything with our power of sight. Hashem's "seeing" of the world was the “finishing touch” to his creation. He brought the world into a stage that it can be seen.

 Man is created in the "tzelem Elokim" (image of G-d). We also possess the ability to create with sight. The way we behold something affects it, positively or adversely. (The evil effects of the ayin hara are based on the above concept). Sight is a manner of connecting with the seen subject. When one establishes eye contact a bond is formed. 

 In summation, sight is what enables us to connect with and actually affect the world we see, depending on the manner in which we behold it. 

 Hashem's purpose in creating the world was in order for people to exercise their free will in enhancing His honor within his creation. Everything contained in creation is a potential tool to be used towards this goal. The challenge being, not everyone sees things in that manner. Some behold the gifts that Hashem provides us with as sources of self-gratification. This facade is allowed to exist in order to facilitate free will. Our task is to pierce the veil and attain the perspective of the true purpose of all the wonderful things provided to us.

 Within the boundaries of Eretz Yisroel we are provided with heavenly assistance in this area. The inanimate earth is actually infused with holiness. This is manifested by the obligations of trumos and maasros. The very ground proclaims its purpose, which is to be "mekadesh shem shamayim". 

 This special status was actually brought about by Moshe Rabeinu. He was one to whom the hidden secrets of creation were an open book. When he looked upon Eretz Yisroel he saw more than a physical realm. He saw the potential for kedushas haaretz. He made contact with the land through his sight, and a land that has been "touched" by such a tzaddik is no longer what it was. He brought out the potential of Eretz Yisroel. The viewing of the land by the eyes of Moshe Rabeinu was a continuation of the process of creation. 

 Answers

 This is why Moshe so much wanted to enter Eretz Yisroel. He wished to enter the land in order to bond with it and bring it to its true purpose.

 Moshe Rabeinu did not openly enter the land, but his sight came into Eretz Yisroel and brought out its holiness.[5] As a result, Eretz Yisroel possesses a kedusha like no other land, but in a hidden form. We only merit rare glimpses of its true holiness. 

 Had Moshe Rabeinu spoken to the rock, it would have appeared as if the rock was giving forth water on its own accord. There was no need for a display of force. The very reason of this rock's existence was to provide the Bnei Yisroel with water. For this it was created. A kiddush Hashem would have resulted, providing the assemblage with an insight to the purpose of all things in creation. Had Klal Yisroel merited to perceive creation in such a manner the entire level of creation would have been elevated as a result.

 The stage was set for the ultimate redemption.

 But Moshe did not speak to the rock. He struck the rock with force. It was a lost opportunity. The world would have to wait. Now is no longer the time.

 Moshe's task in life is to bring the Bnei Yisroel to the vantage point where they see things as he does. He cannot enter Eretz Yisroel, but Hashem comforts him. He tells him that he will, in a sense, go into Eretz Yisroel. By seeing the land, Moshe set a process in motion. What he personally failed to accomplish by failing to speak to the rock would be accomplished by his people who would keep the mitzvos of the Land of Israel.

 This is what Hashem meant by telling Moshe that much more awaits him in the future. 

 The passages in Megilas Eichah follow the order of the aleph bais, with two noted exceptions. In the second and third chapters the order of the letters "ayin" and "peh" are reversed. The gemora explains that this is done to point out the source of the destruction. The meraglim, rather than seeing Eretz Yisroel with an unbiased eye, first formulated what they were going to see, and saw things accordingly. This is called being "makdim peh l'ayin" (the mouth preceding the eye). They didn't see Eretz Yisroel as it truly is, but rather as they conceived and expressed it to be. Their sense of sight was flawed.[6]

 The opportunity to rectify this was presented to Moshe Rabeinu when commanded to speak to the rock. Had he done so, Klal Yisroel would have had the proper insight in Hashem's creation. These two incidents are related, and they form the basis for the subsequent churban Bais HaMikdash.

 The ultimate tikkun (rectification) for this flaw begins with Moshe ascending the mountain and seeing Eretz Yisroel. It will end with the coming of Mashiach Tzidkeinu, when Moshe Rabeinu will arise from the dead along with his flock, and he will lead them, finally, into the promised land.[7]

 May it come speedily in our days. 



[1] Parshas Chukas, perek 20, posuk 11

[2] Rashi, Parshas Va’Eschanan, perek 3, posuk 26

[3] Parshas Va’Eschanan, perek 3, posuk 25 - 27

[4] Meseches Baba Basra, daf 56a

[5] Rav Ovadia Seforno

[6] Meseches Sanhedrin, daf 104b

[7] Devarim Rabbah, perek 2, piska 5

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