`116 Moshe's Last Chance
Chananya Weissman
July 30, 2021

I'm telling you, spend a little less time on social media and increase your Torah study. No matter what your level is and what you choose to learn, you are bound to find pearls of guidance and inspiration. As a free bonus, if you study with pure motives (not to play gotcha or justify what goes against the Torah, in which case the Torah becomes a poison for the one who studies it [see Tosfos in the many places where the Gemara discusses lishma versus lo lishma]) the Torah will sharpen your mind, give you a clear perspective, straighten out your character, and deepen your spiritual connection to Hashem.

Moshe's Last Chance

Ask anyone what sealed Moshe's fate that he would not enter Israel, and they will almost certainly tell you it's because he hit the rock at Mei Meriva instead of speaking to it. Throughout the generations our sages have struggled to explain what the specific sin was (I offered my own explanation in Keser Chananya) but everyone will tell you that whatever happened there sealed his fate.

They would, of course, be wrong.

The Midrash Rabba on Eikev (3:11) says the following:

כשבאו לעבור את הירדן הזכיר להן כל מה שביקש עליהן סניגוריא שהיה סבור שהם מבקשים עליו רחמים שיכנס עמהם. מהו אתה עובר אמר רבי תנחומא שהיה משה מחבט עצמו לפניהן ואומר להם אתם עוברים אני איני עובר ופתח להם פתח שמא יבקשו עליו רחמים ולא היו מבינים

When they came to cross the Jordan River, Moshe mentioned to them all that he had pleaded on their behalf, for he thought they would request mercy for him that he should enter with them. What does it mean when it says “You are crossing”? Rabbi Tanchuma said, that Moshe was prostrating himself before them and said to them, “You are crossing; I am not crossing.” He gave them the opportunity to plead for mercy for him, but they did not understand.

The Midrash continues by comparing it to a king who had many children with his wife, but she sinned against him and he planned on banishing her. In desperation, she informed her children that they would have to serve another queen under far less favorable conditions, hoping they would plead with their father to keep her. The children didn't get the message.

What an astounding teaching! Had the Jews simply prayed for Moshe – even for their own selfish reasons – it seems that the decree against him would have been annulled. Not only that, but the entire course of history would have been altered, for Chazal teach us that if Moshe would have led the Jews into Israel, they never would have been exiled.

Unfortunately, they didn't get the message. After all Moshe had done for them, selflessly leading them and bailing them out time and time again, they did not feel enough gratitude to spare a prayer in his time of need.

They also probably didn't realize how incredibly powerful their prayers could be. For forty years they had the luxury of Moshe interceding on their behalf. Whenever they had a problem, they could just go to Moshe and he would take care of it with the Boss. Who would have imagined that they could do the very same for him, if only they cared enough to try?

Thousands of years of suffering and exile to this very day could have been averted if the Jews simply asked Hashem to let Moshe lead them into the Land. Imagine that.

It is an old Jewish tradition to ask gedolim to pray for people in a time of need. But who prays for the gedolim, at least before they become deathly ill? They have needs, too.

Our prayers have the power to annul decrees, save Moshe Rabbeinu himself, and alter the course of history. Never forget that.