Topic: Prayer & Meditation | Posted:July 17, 2013
The portion of Va’etchanan begins with Moses telling the Israelites, “I begged the Creator to let me enter into the land of Israel.”
We know that Moses initially was meant to lead the Israelites not only out of Egypt and through the desert, but also to bring them into the land of Israel. But that never happened. It says in the Torah that because Moses did not perform the miracle of getting water from a stone as the Creator had asked - hitting the stone instead of speaking to it—he will not lead the nation into the land of Israel. It is seen as a punishment for Moses. However, the kabbalists teach that this is the wrong way to view it.
Moses not entering the land of Israel was not a punishment, but rather an effect of the Israelites’ low spiritual level; they did not deserve for Moses to lead them there.
In this week’s portion, Moses begs the Creator, “Let me enter and see the land.” The Torah tells us that the Hebrew word that’s used for this prayer is va’etchanan, which has the numerical value of 515. As such, the kabbalists say that Moses prayed 515 times to be allowed to see this land. Why, then, were his prayers not answered? Why was he not allowed into the land?
The answer, the teaching, here is very profound: many times we pray and ask for things, but because our vision of our lives and of what we think we should have is often wrong, we don’t have clarity on what we are meant to accomplish and the challenges that we are meant to go through. Oftentimes, there is a disconnect between the prayers that we speak and the true desires of our soul.
It is an important understanding to know that a prayer which comes from our soul is always answered. There are times that we ask for things, or pray for things, and we don’t receive them. This isn’t because our prayers are unanswered; it is because our soul did not pray for them. If, for instance, a person is in a challenging or difficult situation that he’d like gone from his life, but his soul knows that by going through that challenge he will be able to elevate, then his soul doesn’t pray for that challenge to be removed. The man might say those words in prayer, but his soul does not.
Therefore, when we read the specific words that Moses uses - Ve’er’eh eta areth hatova, “Let me see the good land,” and we know that the Creator takes Moses to the top of a mountain and shows him all of the land - we come to understand exactly what “see” means. It was Moses’ soul that was asking to see the land, and so Moses’ prayer wasanswered; his soul prayed to see the land - not to enter into the land, because his soul knew that for its own correction and for the correction of the Israelites, he needed only make that visual connection with Israel, a connection of essence, and not actually physically enter it.
The kabbalists say that from the top of the mountain the Creator showed Moses all parts of the land and all the history that would ever happen there: Jerusalem, the First Temple, the destruction of the First Temple, the Second Temple, the destruction of the Second Temple, and also what is called the Third Temple - the Temple that will come down from the Heavens once humanity has achieved their perfection. So Moses not only saw, but also helped awaken and plant the seeds for the ultimate correction - the Final Redemption.
We learn from this a beautiful new insight into both Moses’ request to see the land and its answer: Moses gained not only a vision of the future, but also the ability to plant the seeds for the Final Redemption. Moses’ merit was to see all of Israel’s history - the positive and the negative - and connect and awaken the ultimate perfection. The purpose of Moses’ request was therefore not simply to journey into the land. He knew that in order for the Israelites and all the next generations to awaken and receive the Light of the land of Israel - which does not represent the physical land, but rather a spiritual state of perfection and elevation – he needed to connect to its perfection through seeing it and not actually entering into it.
So why did Moses beg and pray 515 times to be given the opportunity to see? Because now we understand that “to see” means “to awaken and see the future, to plant the seeds for the future.”
We learn from the kabbalists that Moses’ prayer was answered; because it was a prayer that came from his soul. And so the lesson we want to take from this week’s portion is that we need to ask the Creator to give us clarity on what our soul wants. The clearer and stronger our connection is to the true desires of our soul, the more we will see that our prayers are always answered.