The Final Climb
Updated: Sep 24, 2020
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This is another in a series of D'var Torahs from the morning minyan at KI on Wednesday mornings. This week's Parsha is Ha'azinu. At the end of the Parsha Moshe is informed by God that he will never be able to enter the Promise Land; instead he can catch a glimpse of it from afar before he dies.
From Parshat Ha'azinu Deuteronomy 32:48-52
For it is not an empty thing for you, for it is your life, and through this thing, you will lengthen your days upon the land to which you are crossing over the Jordan, to possess it."
:And the Lord spoke to Moses on that very day, saying,:
49Go up this Mount Avarim [to] Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, that is facing Jericho, and see the Land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel as a possession,
:50And die on the mountain upon which you are climbing and be gathered to your people, just as your brother Aaron died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people.
:51Because you betrayed Me in the midst of the children of Israel at the waters of Merivath Kadesh, [in] the desert of Zin, [and] because you did not sanctify Me in the midst of the children of Israel.:
52For from afar, you will see the land, but you will not come there, to the land I am giving the children of Israel.
Translation taken from Sefaria
The Final Climb
Moses, how do you ascend Mt. Nebo for your final walk?
Is your head held up, proudly aware of your accomplishments
or is it bowed, ashamed of the mistakes that you made?
After all, you were only human.
Are you thinking of your days as a prince; those sweet days in Egypt?
Days of splendor and majesty in the court of the Pharoh?
Or are your thoughts of your people, the people held close to your heart, the people
who have caused you such grief and worry?
Moses, in these last hours is your mind on your wife, who took second place to God and a nation?
Or your children, whose father was a leader and busy from morning until late at night?
Or your parents beckoning to you?
Were your thoughts on your brother whom faithfully assisted you, or your brave singing sister who was always by your side.
Did you properly thank them? Credit them enough?
Are you thinking of God or the thousand little things you have seen on this earth?
Moses, do you trudge or do you leap up the path of that mountain?
Do you tiptoe or do angels need to drag you upward as you weep bitter tears?
This time there are no burning bushes to light your way.
What are you thinking, Moses, our teacher?
Do you laugh or do you cry? Do you stare down at the warm stones at your feet or at the steely sky above you?
Our teacher, are you afraid to die alone?
Are you scared, Moses? Are you scared to leave your people? Can you leave this arduous journey behind? Has your life's work finally come to an end?
Can you let go?
You know more than most that some things are out of our hands.
Moses, our faithful leader,
You made us proud.
You led us and taught us, you helped to feed us, you judged us and angered us, you frightened us, you left us but you always returned.
You always returned, Moses
Even when you were angry, you always came back.
Even when we rejected you and God, you returned.
Mose, our beacon
You were our security, our intermediary before a God who angered quickly.
It will be hard to live without you, dear Moses, our protector,
But, it is ok to go,
We will be ok.
No one wants to die, Moses.
We all struggle with our mortality.
We too struggle up the mountain at the end
None of us is ready for that climb, no matter what our age
Or what we have accomplished in our lives
We know the questions you must be asking because we ask them of ourselves.
Did we do enough? Did we make an impact?
Have our good deeds outweighed the bad?
Have we been the human beings we set out to be?
How will we be remembered by our partners and children and communities?
Will the world remember us after we are gone? Have we made a mark?
This is what you must think of as you climb your final mountain, dear Moses.
Moses, you are a man who saw God,
An ordinary man who witnessed the extraordinary,
A man who climbed mountains your entire life
Rarely stopping to rest, always pushing yourself onward
One mountain peak after another, but, Moses, you always managed the climb
Not always with grace, but you humbly achieved those heights for your people, for God, always torn between the two
Moses, our teacher, you are an ordinary man who climbed one step at a time to stunning heights
You helped light our way
Moses, beloved by your people and God, you will not die an ordinary death
For you will be kissed by God.