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The Name of the Parsha - Vaetchanan

The word va’eschanan means “I requested,” referring to Moshe’s requests to enter the Land of Israel: “I requested from G-d…Please let me cross over and see the good land that is on the other side of the Jordan” (3:23-25).

Understandably, Moshe’s prayers to enter the Land would have been heartfelt and persistent. In fact, the Midrash states that the Torah’s use of the unusual term va’eschanan which has the gematria (numerical value) of 515 alludes to the fact that Moshe made this petition no less than 515 times! (Devarim Rabah 11:10)

Eventually, however, “G-d became angry with me… and He did not listen to me. G-d said to me, “Enough of your (requests)! Do not speak to Me any more about this matter’”(v.26).

Everything in the Torah must convey a practical lesson for our lives. But this account seems merely to convey a historical event. What does it mean for us?

The common perception of this incident is that moshe’s prayers were not accepted by G-d, and when G-d became angry, Moshe stopped his petition. However, we must keep in mind that Moshe was not only praying for himself, but for the entire Jewish people. Had he been the one to lead them into the land, it would have immediately ushed in the Messianic Age for all time.

Therefore, Moshe could have followed the Talmudic directive, “Whatever the master of the house tells you, you must do, except (when he tells you to) leave” (Pesachim 86b). When G-d (the true “Master”) told Moshe to stop raying (i.e. to abandon the request for Mashiach, and to “leave G-d’s presence), he was not required to follow the instruction of his Host, according to Talmudic Law.

So, despite the fact that Moshe was angering G-d with his persistent prayers, it is highly unlikely that Moshe actually stopped petitioning G-d, even after G-d said, “Do not speak to Me any more about this matter.” For Moshe was not praying for himself, but on behalf of the Jewish people –the generation that he took out of Egypt. And, as a true leader and lover of Israel, Moshe would surely have been willing to put himself at risk (by angering G-d), to make every possible effort on behalf of his people.

And this is the lesson for us: To continue to pray for Mashiach again and again, until we are finally answered!

(Based on Sichas Shabbos Parshas Devarim 5751)



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