By Rabbi Y. Dov Krakowski
In the beginning of this week’s Sedra, Moshe Rabeinu first announces to Klal-Yisroel that he is one hundred and twenty years old that day. Secondly (possibly a direct consequence of the first statement), he tells them that he cannot continue “to come in and out”, and thirdly, he notifies them that Hashem has told him that he may not pass over the Jordan into Israel. To say that the Passuk is oddly configured would seem an understatement, as it appears to be very difficult to understand even superficially what Moshe Rabeinu is trying to convey.
Rashi explains as follows: once Moshe Rabeinu tells us that he is one hundred and twenty years old and he cannot continue to move about, one would assume this is because he must have become incapable of doing so due to his old age. However, the Passuk in V’Zos HaBracha tells us that Moshe Rabeinu didn’t lose any strength even at the actual moment of his passing on. Therefore, Rashi explains that the idea Moshe Rabeinu is trying to convey is that the only reason he cannot move about is because his years have been completed and Hashem has instructed him that he is not to cross into Eretz-Yisroel.
While Rashi has at least made some sense of this difficult Passuk for us, there is still an inherent difficulty with the Passuk. What was the reason that Moshe was being ‘paralyzed’? Was it because he reached the ripe old age of one hundred and twenty, or was it because Hashem didn’t want him to go into Eretz-Yisroel? It would seem from this Passuk that there was some sort of direct correlation between Moshe Rabeinu living the full life of one hundred and twenty years and Hashem not allowing him to go into Eretz-Yisroel. The inherent difficulty with saying something like this is that Moshe Rabeinu was punished and not allowed to enter Eretz-Yisroel because of his conduct in Mei-Meriva (that he hit the rock instead of talking to it); however, Klal-Yisroel spent forty years in the Midbar because of the Chet-Hameraglim (the disappointment and fears attached to conquering Eretz-Yisroel that were caused by the scouts). What would have happened had Moshe acted exactly the same in the instance of Mei-Meriva, if the Meraglim had never caused Klal-Yisroel to sin? Moshe would have still not have been able to enter Eretz-Yisroel, yet Klal-Yisroel wouldn’t have needed to wait forty years in the Midbar. Would Moshe Rabeinu have died young?
Reb Tzadok HaKohen (in Tzidkas Hatzadik) explains that whenever something occurs that affects many people, it had to have been that all those involved deserved to be affected by such a thing. Reb Tzadok says that it doesn’t necessarily mean that they all deserved it for the same reason, but it does mean that they all somehow needed to experience the various consequences that occurred to each respectively. Reb Tzadok explains that this must be the case because nothing happens to anybody without a particular reason for it to happen even to that specific person.
Using this idea of Reb Tzadok, perhaps we can resolve our difficulty. True, Moshe couldn’t go into Eretz Yisroel because of Mei-Meriva, but nonetheless Hashem did not want to subtract any years from Moshe Rabeinu’s life. Klal Yisroel sinned by believing the scouts’ negative report and thus was punished my wandering in the desert for forty years; but Moshe Rabeinu did not sin in this manner-just because Moshe Rabeinu was their leader, why should he have had to wander in the wilderness for forty years?
It would thus seem that these forty years of wandering was an experience custom tailored for Klal-Yisroel and Moshe Rabeinu together. Moshe Rabeinu was able to live his full life expectancy together with Klal-Yisroel in the Midbar, while he never entered into Eretz Yisroel. Klal-Yisroel sinned and they were punished, Moshe had absolutely no part in their sin. What afforded Moshe Rabeinu to live a full life was Klal-Yisroel’s punishment. It would seem that Hashem fashioned everybody’s exact punishment in such a manner that all worked out perfectly for everyone.
We must realize that HaKadosh Baruch Hu is the perfect and ultimate judge. Hashem works out the whole world and its occurrences.
We will all always get what we deserve for the good and for the bad. We say in the Nesane Tokef that on Rosh-Hashana everything is decided for the forthcoming year and that on Yom-Kipur the decree is sealed so to speak. We must take advantage of these days and may we all be Zoche to deserve only good.