Although our teacher Moshe figuratively tears down the gates of Heaven with his prayers and supplications to be allowed to enter the land of Israel, his wish is not granted. Over the centuries, the commentators have offered various explanations as to why Heaven, so to speak, remains so adamant in refusing his request and prayer.
Even though many great and noble insights have been advanced to rationalize and explain this refusal of the prayers by Moshe, the question itself remains a vexing one, even thousands of years later.
The simplest and, perhaps, least satisfying answer to the problem is simply that we can never understand or fathom the judgments and decisions of Heaven. The mortal mind can never cross the line of eternity and will always be left with questions and difficulties. All of this is encompassed in the words of God: “No human being while alive can fathom or see Me”.
Naturally, we are greatly frustrated by our inability to deal with eternity on a rational basis. We are frustrated by the realization of our limitations, whether they be physical, mental, spiritual, or even mundane. The aptitude to live and function within the limitations of one’s own shortcomings is a great talent, and, unfortunately, there are many who do not possess it, and are constantly unhappy, disappointed, frustrated, pessimistic and morose.
All the utopian ideas and legislation currently being promoted in much of the Western world is simply an outlet for the disappointment that is felt when one realizes that society is not perfect, and that life usually is messy.
Moshe is told by Heaven that he should no longer pursue this course of prayer. He is to give up on his lifelong dream and accept the will of Heaven, even though he may not understand or agree with the decision that is being rendered. This becomes part of the matrix of the greatness of Moshe, in that he does accept this judgment against him, and we do not find him pursuing the matter any longer.
In his closing words to the Jewish people, Moshe will refer again to the fact that he will not lead them into the land of Israel, and that he will die and be buried in the land of Moab. But these statements are not made in bitterness or in complaint, but simply in recognition of the truth of the situation that faces him and the Jewish people.
Judaism is a religion of optimism, opportunity, and multiple choices, but contains within it a certain degree of fatalism – an understanding that the will of Heaven will not be thwarted, no matter what, and no matter how mysterious it may appear to an ordinarily mortal.
In Yiddish, this streak of fatalism is expressed in the word ‘bashert’. After all our attempts and actions have taken place, there still is this element that governs the outcome after all our efforts and seeming accomplishments. Such is the relationship of the created towards the Creator.
Rabbi Berel Wein