Leader of the Jews
Tzvi FishmanBefore making Aliyah to Israel, Tzvi Fishman was a Hollywood screenwriter....
“I don’t have to be the leader of the Jews,” Moshe pleaded with G-d. “I don’t have to be their president, or rabbi, or king. Strip me of all of my standing and honor. Turn me into a lowly ant if You want to, but just let me enter the Land.”
This Shabbat, we are about to read the Torah portion of “Va’etchanan.” The numerical value of the Hebrew word “Va’etchanan” is 515. From this, our Sages teach that Moshe beseeched G-d with 515 supplications, begging Him again and again to let him enter the Land of Israel with the rest of the Jews. Moshe beseeched G-d in every possible manner and way – crying, imploring, arguing, debating, badgering, conjoling, appealing, entreating, demanding, praying, nagging to enter the Holy Land. This was his life goal. This was his dream. This was his life’s aspiration.
If Moshe were alive today living in Toronto or Monsey, would he give a call to Nefesh B’Nefesh, or would he say, “I won’t buy a ticket until Mashiach comes.”?
Ever since G-d first appeared to Moshe at the Burning Bush, it was Moshe’s mission in life to bring the Jews to Eretz Yisrael, as G-d tells him: “I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of Egypt, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and large Land, to a Land flowing with milk and honey” (Shemot, 3:8).
Today any Jew can purchase an airline ticket and be in Israel in a matter of hours. There are even organizations that will pay for the airfare. If Moshe were alive today living in Toronto or Monsey, would he give a call to Nefesh B’Nefesh, or would he say, “I won’t buy a ticket until Mashiach comes.”? Or would he say, “I love Eretz Yisrael but as long as the government is corrupt, I’m not coming.”? Or would he say, “As long as the secular Jews violate the Shabbos, I am staying in Monsey.”??????
Of course he wouldn’t. Moshe would be the first on the plane. Why? Because he understood that G-d wants the Jewish People to live in Israel. How did he know? Because G-d says it over and over again. Let’s take a quick look at this week’s portion:
“Now hearken, O Yisrael, to the statutes and to the judgments, which I teach you to do them, that you may live and go in and possess the Land which the L-rd G-d of your fathers gives you” (Devarim, 4:1).
“….That you should act according in the Land” (Devarim, 4:5).
“….That you might do them in the Land” (Devarim, 4:14).
“….But you shall go over and possess the good Land” (Devarim, 4:22).
“….That thou might prolong thy days upon the Land which the L-rd thy G-d gives thee forever” (Devarim, 4:40).
“Honor thy father and thy mother…that thy days may be prolonged and that it may go well with thee in the Land which the L-rd thy G-d gives thee” (Devarim, 5:16).
“….That thou may do them in the Land which I gave them to possess: (Devarim, 5:30).
“….That you might do them in the Land” (Devarim, 6:1).
“….That you may increase mightily in the Land that flows with milk and honey” (Devarim, 6:3).
“….into the Land which he swore to your fathers” (Devarim, 6:10).
“….go in and possess the good Land which He swore to give your forefathers” (Devarim, 6:18).
“….And He brought us out from there that He might bring us in and give us the Land which He swore to our fathers” (Devarim, 6:24).
“….when the L-rd thy G-d bring shall bring thee to the Land” (Devarim, 7:1).
Certainly, it is not easy to begin a new life in Israel. Not every Jew can simply pack up his belongings and hop on a plane. There are people who have to take care of elderly parents. There are others who would have trouble supporting large families. For others, the change of culture would be an insurmountable challenge. Many people have real reasons why they simply can’t come. But no one can claim that it isn’t a mitzvah. None of us today is wiser or holier than Moshe. Not coming to Israel was the greatest tragedy and sorrow of his life. We should all feel that way too.