Parsha Vaeschanen: Sacrifice is crucial

Dear Scouts:

In this week’s parsha, Vaeschanan, we learn that sacrifice is a crucial part of leadership.  Moshe begins the parsha by telling us that he prayed to Hashem to let him enter Eretz Yisrael.  You’ll recall that Hashem had decreed that Moshe would not enter the Land after the incident in which Moshe hit the rock to bring forth water.

Moshe continues, “But Hashem was angry with me because of you, and He didn’t listen to me, and Hashem said to me, ‘This is too much for you!  Do not continue speaking to me anymore about this matter!’”

These few sentences say a lot more than their simple understanding.  On the surface, it’s clear that Moshe’s people were the ones to put him in this situation.  As the leader of the Jewish People, Moshe takes responsibility for their mistakes.  We also see that it’s important to accept the decision of whomever is in charge.  Hashem commands Moshe not to appeal this decision again, and Moshe obeys.

The Sforno (1475-1550), a commentator from Italy, teaches this exchange a little differently.  According to him, “But Hashem was angry with me because of you…(l’ma’ancha in Hebrew)” doesn’t mean that Moshe is blaming the Jews.  Moshe is actually explaining that Hashem is acting for their sake.  How can it be beneficial for the Jews to leave Moshe outside of the Land?<

The Midrash teaches us that whatever Moshe created is never destroyed.  Twice, when we lost our way and incurred punishment from Hashem, He destroyed His Temple, His most precious gift to us on Earth, instead of directing the entire force of punishment directly on the Jewish people.  If Moshe would enter Eretz Yisrael and build the Temple, Hashem would not destroy it, and the people would suffer much, much more.

Hashem says, “This is too much for you! (rav lach in Hebrew)”  The words are literally “a lot” and “to/for you”.  The Sforno teaches that Hashem is saying, “I’m doing a great thing for you!”  Moshe really is a great leader.  He loves his people even more than himself, and Hashem knows that.  Moshe would gladly suffer if it meant less suffering for the Jews.
Shabbat Shalom,

Jordan Block
Assistant Scoutmaster, Troop 806
Houston, TX