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Begging

Friday, 16 August, 2019 - 7:15 am

As a father of nine children (ka"h) I think I have seen it all when it comes to begging.

“Pretty, pretty please!” is something I have heard many a time. Tantrums for a toy are not foreign to me.

As a parent, I know that accommodating my children’s entreaties should be based on the merits of the child, the situation and the request. However, I cannot say that I have never caved in to incessant nagging. Sometimes, it’s the emotion of the petition, other times it’s the relief of terminating the endless badgering.

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Perhaps, however, I can use a lesson on how to deal with nagging from this week’s parsha.

In Va’Etchanan, Moshe begs Almighty G-d to PLEASE let him enter the Holy Land.

This was not a one-time request. The commentaries explain that the gematria (numeric value) of Va’Etchanan (ואתחנן) is 515. This is because Moshe begged Hashem 515 times(!) to enter the land of Israel.

(I guess I shouldn’t complain when I am nagged thirty or forty times about the same thing!)

G-d, however, did not relent. He did not allow Moshe to enter the land. If there was ever a human being that deserved to enter Israel, shouldn’t it have been Moshe?!

We know the technical reason Moshe did not enter the land was due the to the issue of hitting the rock. But, (aside from the obvious difficulty reconciling the seemingly disproportionate punishment,) after begging 515 times, didn’t he already do teshuva for that? Don’t we believe in second chances?

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It’s obvious that the ultimate reason Moshe wasn’t permitted to enter the land was something else. The Chassidic Masters offer a deeper understanding into the destiny of Moshe and the Jewish people. The time simply wasn’t ripe for Moshe.

It just wasn’t meant to be. In other words, Moshe believed that entering the land of Israel would be best for him. G-d, however, saw deeper. To Hashem, the greatest benefit to Moshe is by not entering the land of Israel.

When we don’t appreciate the Divine plan, we question and we beg. Were we privy to G-d’s view we may not beg for something we don’t truly want.

Of course, begging for the right thing is something G-d wants us to do, just as I am delighted when my daughter begs me for money to give to tzedaka. This is why the Torah opens this week’s parsha with Va’Etchanan (pleading).  Moshe is not chastised for begging. In fact, he is praised for it.

But, sometimes the answer is still no.

We ought to plead with G-d for holiness, goodness, health and prosperity.

And, then we need to accept that in the long run He knows best.

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