Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Vision Thing

Rabbi Moshe Sokol’s drasha this Shmini Atzeret spoke of Vezot Haberacha, the end of the Torah. God takes Moshe up onto Mount Nebo, and shows him the Children of Israel all prepared to enter the Land of Israel. He leaves an extra word in verse 34:2, “Leimor (that is to say) – but doesn’t tell Moshe what to say.

ד ויאמר יהוה אליו, זאת הארץ אשר נשבעתי לאברהם ליצחק וליעקב לאמר, לזרעך, אתננה; הראיתיך בעיניך, ושמה לא תעבר.

God said to him, This is the land which I promised to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob to say, to your descendents I will give it, I show it to your eyes, but you will not cross over to there.

The Gemara takes this extra word to imply that Moshe himself is to say something. But what? It must be based on this showing of the Land to him, and on his not entering.

Let’s look at the word “I showed it – her’eiticha”. There are different kinds of vision. There is seeing, such as we ordinarily see something, we remember a few salient facts about it, but it’s just something outside of us. Then there is envisioning. If we look at a child, we can often envision what they will look like as an adult, perhaps, if we know the family, where they will be, what they will do, etc.

Even envisioning has a strong and weak variant. The weak kind, is what we just said – looking at some kid. The strong kind is when we look at our own child, someone who we’ve invested ourselves in, working hard to shape their character, to give them every good chance to develop, etc. When we look at such a child, we can be fairly sure that the way they’ve developed will continue. We can be quite sure that they will develop the way we see them developing.

So too here. God and Moshe have worked hard to bring Bnei Yisrael to this point, ready to cross into the Land. Moshe can rest assured that God will not interfere, that they will cross over quite soon after his death.

So what can he say about this? Whom will he tell? God tells him directly, this is the Land which was promised to the forefathers. When you, Moshe, reach the True World, you can bear witness to the forefathers that the promise is being fulfilled. Even though you yourself did not physically witness it, your work allows you to envision it so strongly that it will be as if you had physically witnessed it and can thus testify to the forefathers.

(Does anyone agree with me that there’s a possible problem here? When I brought it to R’ Sokol, he admitted I had a valid point, and had thus intentionally bracketed his talk with “possible reading”.)

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