This week’s Parashah is Parashat Pinchas where we delve into the issues of disappointment and how we can cope with it.
Parasha In A Nutshell
- Pinchas becomes a Kohein.
- The Census
- Who would inherit the land?
- The appointment of Joshua as the new leader
- The Musaph (additional sacrifices) for Shabbat and Yom Tov.
Parashat Pinchas Entry Into The Promised Land
Parashat Pinchas continues the preparation of the Jewish People for entry into the Land of Israel. Hashem instructs Moses to take a census of the nation in particular, how many men of war are available for the conquest of the Land. Secondly, we read about when we enter the Land how the land was to be divided.
Again this task is given to Moses. Next week we will read about how Moses will hand over the Land of Sichon and Og, which was conquered in battle to the tribes of Reuben and Gad. Surely, thought Moses, with all these preparations that I am involved with, that Hashem has canceled the decree and will allow me to enter the Land of Israel? It is then that we read the following: (Numbers (27:12-14)
וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יְהוָה֙ אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֔ה עֲלֵ֛ה אֶל־הַ֥ר הָעֲבָרִ֖ים הַזֶּ֑ה וּרְאֵה֙ אֶת־הָאָ֔רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֥ר נָתַ֖תִּי לִבְנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃
The LORD said to Moses, “Ascend these heights of Abarim and view the land that I have given to the Israelite people.
וְרָאִ֣יתָה אֹתָ֔הּ וְנֶאֱסַפְתָּ֥ אֶל־עַמֶּ֖יךָ גַּם־אָ֑תָּה כַּאֲשֶׁ֥ר נֶאֱסַ֖ף אַהֲרֹ֥ן אָחִֽיךָ׃
When you have seen it, you too shall be gathered to your kin, just as your brother Aaron was.
כַּאֲשֶׁר֩ מְרִיתֶ֨ם פִּ֜י בְּמִדְבַּר־צִ֗ן בִּמְרִיבַת֙ הָֽעֵדָ֔ה לְהַקְדִּישֵׁ֥נִי בַמַּ֖יִם לְעֵינֵיהֶ֑ם הֵ֛ם מֵֽי־מְרִיבַ֥ת קָדֵ֖שׁ מִדְבַּר־צִֽן׃
For, in the wilderness of Zin, when the community was contentious, you disobeyed My command to uphold My sanctity in their sight by means of the water.” Those are the Waters of Meribath-kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin.
Hashem breaks the news to Moses. You will not pass. The People will pass over the Jordan but you will not merit to cross!
Imagine the disappointment! Moses had been the faithful servant for all these years and now he is given the news that Hashem will not let him continue in the role. Rashi, quoting the Midrash, expands on this theme. Moses thought that if he could not cross, then his sons would lead the People into the Holy Land. Again Hashem says no. I have chosen Joshua to lead the People.
I become very emotional when I read Parashat Pinchas, as at its core it raises a number of important questions:
- Why was Moses so keen on entering the Land?
- How does one deal with disappointment?
There are more questions but let us address just these two:
1. Why Did Moses Want To Enter The Land?
On the surface the answer is simple. He had led the People for 40 years, surely he should be there at the end? Why not give him the honor he deserved? Of course, Hashem’s thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are His ways our ways. But it is indeed difficult for us to understand.
The Rabbis asked, what was so important for Moses, that he enter the Land? Did he want to taste the fruit? The answer, is that he wanted the opportunity to fulfill the special mitzvot of the Land of Israel.
As we know there are 613 mitzvot in Judaism. No Jew can observe all of them. The reason is that Judaism is a role-orientated religion. There are certain Mitzvot that can only be fulfilled by men, others by women. Some by Kohanim and others by the Levites. Others, when there is a Temple standing and some only in the Land of Israel.
It was these Mitzvot that Moses wished to observe. When I read this for the first time I trembled. I asked myself, What would have been my response to this? Am I upset when I can’t fulfill a Mitzvah? How do I feel when there is no Minyan or when I miss the time to fulfill a Mitzvah? A shrug of the shoulders, “Oh well I tried. Too bad, so sad.” or am I genuinely pained by this missed and lost opportunity?
We learn from Moses the correct response to not being able to fulfill a mitzvah. He is pained and begs Hashem for the chance to fulfill the mitzvah. Today will never happen again. The mitzvot that we have missed today can never be made up. If we can feel even a fraction of the pain that Moses felt that would go a long way in building our commitment to our Judaism.
2. Dealing With Disappointment
How did Moses react to the news that the answer was no? We note in the text that he does not spit on the dummy and have a tantrum. He responds by inquiring who will take over and lead the People? Although he will no longer have the job, he wholeheartedly supports Joshua, providing guidance, and organizing that the handover ceremony is smooth and that he is accepted by the People. Moses will continue to try and reverse the decree, but that is between him and Hashem. Joshua only has the full support of Moses. This is a powerful lesson in how to handle disappointment.
In life we will be let down, we will miss out. We may not get what we want. The question we have to ask is, now that the answer is no, how do I get up and move forward? In our Parasha, Moses not only helps Joshua, he works tirelessly to ensure that the Jewish People are ready for the next stage.
What a powerful lesson on how to deal with disappointment.