Why Did Moshe Desperately Want to Enter the Land of Israel?

In Parshat Vaetchanan, Moshe pleads with God to be able to enter the Land of Israel.


In Maesechet Sorah 14a Rabbi Simlai asks the question: Why did Moshe Rabeinu desire to enter the Land of Israel? Did he need to eat of its fruit or did he need to sate himself with its bounty? Certainly not! Rather, this is what Moshe said to himself “There are many mitzvoth that the Jewish people have been commanded that cannot be fulfilled except in the Land of Israel. I will enter the Land so that all of the mitzvoth will be fulfilled through me.” God said to him, Do you seek anything other than to gain reward? Even if you will not enter the Land of Israel to have these mitzvoth performed, I will reckon it for you as if you had performed them.


When a person is in Israel, they are able to observe more mitzvoth than if they were living abroad. In Israel we have the agricultural mitzvoth of Trumot, Maasrot, Shmitah etc. which emphasize the holiness of the Land.


Living in Israel is also more conducive to mitzvah observance.


The mitzvah of “Remembering the Shabbat Day” is magnified in Israel since Saturday is our only day off. Everyone that you meet in Israel, regardless of religion or level of observance will wish you a Shabbat Shalom. Last week, we went to a soccer game in Tel Aviv and the security guard wished me a Shabbat Shalom as I was leaving the stadium!


This past week, Yediot Achronot (daily newspaper) ran a whole article on Erev Tisha B’Av about the importance of commemorating Tisha B’Av. The Rabbi of the Kotel encouraged parents to bring their children to Jerusalem to mourn the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash. Many Israelis, even those who do not necessarily consider themselves observant fast on Tisha B’Av. The fast day even appears on the lottery calendar as a day that betting does not take place.


Moshe Rabeinu our greatest leader, observed as many mitzvoth as he was exposed to, yet he was still yearning for more. The fact that he could get “credit” for observing the Mitzvot that can only be performed in Israel was not enough for him.


We are fortunate to be living in an age where one can hop on a plane and visit Israel from almost anywhere in the world. There are even opportunities for young people to come on Birthright trips for ten days at no charge and there are many scholarships available for students to study in Israel at a price that they can afford. As well, there are organizations that run highly subsidized trips for adults to help bring them back to their roots.


Although Moshe never entered Israel, I’m sure that he would be happy that there are so many opportunities for Jews to come and visit Israel.