Haazinu 2

D'var Torah by Rabbi Jay Spero


The Eternity of the Spiritual 

Contact Rabbi Spero at 862-9546 or


This week’s portion is a song that Moshe gives over to the people of Israel. In the Torah a song is more than a poetic collection of words and phrases. A song is meant to convey the harmony of any given concept — the concept here being the highs and lows the Jewish people will undergo until the final redemption. 

At the end of this song G-d commands Moshe one final time: “G-d spoke to Moshe on that very day saying: Ascend the mountain of Aravim, Mount Nevo, which is in the land of Moav, which is before Jericho, and see the land of Ca‘naan which I give to the children of Israel as an inheritance. And die on the mountain where you will ascend, and be gathered to your people.” G-d tells Moshe he is not able to enter the holy land of Israel because he had sinned at the waters of Arebeth-Kadesh (when Moshe hit the rock). 

This is a very sad story.  Moshe, the selfless leader of the Jewish people, who had given them everything he could, is refused entry to the land of Israel because of one mistake.

How are we to understand this?

Every year on Simchas Torah, we complete the entire Torah, which ends with the actual death of Moshe. A week later, we start from the beginning: the creation of the world. We don’t do this merely for the sake of convenience. This is imparting to us an extremely important message: physical things are born and die. This is true of everything physical, from a human being, to a plant, to a star; even the sun, scientists say, will burn out if given enough time. But something spiritual is eternal.

There are ten spheres in Kabalistic thought. The sphere represented by Moshe is netzach — eternity. While Moshe might die a physical death, his essence, his teachings, are eternal. The Torah, which was the blueprint for G-d’s creation of the world, which has been a guide for the Jewish people for nearly 3400 years, is eternal. 

The great Chassidic thinker, Rabbi Tzadok Hakohen, writes in his work Kometz Mincha: The Jewish people have no connection to any specific place. G-d is our portion. Therefore the Land of Israel had to first belong to the Cana’anites, before G-d gave it to the Jews, to show the Jews have no indigenous place at all.

Moshe’s death and our finishing of the Torah symbolize the same thing: a physical end, not a spiritual one. Moshe was unable to enter the Land of Israel for this reason. For Moshe, the symbol of eternity, to enter the land of Israel, which, while an extremely holy place at that time, was still a physical and temporal one, would not be a good mix. Only when the Messiah comes and the dead are resurrected, and Israel truly becomes the eternal land, will Moshe be able to enter it.

So when we see the death of Moshe and the finishing of the Torah, there is no need for us to despair, for it is only temporary, while our study of the Torah is eternal — and it is this relationship with eternity that has kept us and sustained us.

Rabbi Jay Spero is the rabbi of the Saranac Synagogue in Buffalo.

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