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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

From a Distance

At the very end of Parshat Ha'azinu, after Moshe's long song that plays like a long poetic threat, Moshe Rabeinu, our teacher and leader, is told by God that his time has come to leave this earth behind. Moshe is allowed to climb to the top of Mount Nebo and have one glimpse of The Land before he is to close his eyes for the final time. I have tried to bring us to the top of that mountain with Moshe and have tried to imagine his thoughts as he views the land below him. I hope you will join me for this visit.

I have written a second post on Parshat Ha'azinu which I will post tomorrow at the end of this post. I won't send out a second notice, but I invite you to return to this page tomorrow night and read my take of Parshat Ha'azinu through the lens of baseball. It lays now on the cutting room floor, but I do hope to post it soon.

G'mru tov, dear readers.



Other posts on Parshat Ha'azinu in Words Have Wings:


From a Distance

Moshe stared down at the land;

far below him it stretched.

He witnessed the sweeping vistas of the earth,

the burnt umber of the hills

and the verdant rolling valleys.

Before him unwound the slender blue ribbon of the Jordan,

the azure of the sea in the distance

and the plains where giant purple grapes surely grew.

His eyes saw, but it was difficult to believe.

So, this was The Land.

Moshe was just human,

so he sighed a deep sigh as he surveyed.

He slowly scanned the horizon,

from east to west.

His eyes reflected the light of the day

and perhaps some inner light.

In that small space of time,

during that short gaze,

there was time to remember the past.

His time to look forward was over.

Moshe recalled

His two mothers, his father,

his brother and sister.

He had been called away from those he loved.

More than their presence, he felt their absence;

a cool hollowness in his bones where they would have been.


or was it nostalgically,

he recalled his youth in Egypt,

it was so long ago.

The linen finery he once wore,

the dainties he once ate,

the prickles of pride that youth brought,

but also confusion,

and lack of confidence.

Moshe's eyes followed the line of the land until it met the water,

and he recalled the Exodus,

the parting of the seas,

and the terror mixed with joy and awe.

Water gushing from a rock.

This he would always remember;

a mistake that brought him to this mountaintop.

Moshe gazed at the hills and could imagine the people,

there were so many people,

belligerent, stubborn,

but loved.

Men, women, children.

He recalled snippets of faces,

the sound of their voices,

Their questions, arguments,

and so many faults.

God had meted out severe justice them.

They were gone now,

but they lived in his memory.

It would be their children who would enter this land

which spread out before him.

Moshe stared at the clouds in the sky above the hills,

as they shaded the land and he understood.

that this moment,

only from afar,

perched high on a mountain

could one sense the magnitude,

of a life,

of the journey of a people,

the power that is God.

Shehecheyanu, v'kiymanu v'hegianu lazman hazeh.

A journey that started with a burning bush

approaches its end on a mountain crest.

Moshe, always humble,

tried to comprehend his role

and under that vast sky, he felt very small,

like a tiny jewel in the crown of a great King.

Still he gazed at the land below.

He did not blink, he did not cry.

He did not turn away.

Moshe, his eyes still bright, could see from the distance,

the land,

but also the past and the present.

He could not peer into the future,

but he could imagine

his people one day;

who they would become,

how they would grow,

for he remembered the promise.

And then Moshe closed his eyes.

Inhaled the gift of The Land,

and imprinted it,

set its image upon his heart,

where it would go with him always.

He had seen the land,

its beauty and mystery.

He had been gifted the truth of acceptance.

Baruch Dayan Ha'emet.

Moshe was ready.

It was finally time

to close his eyes.

To rest.

From a distance, much is seen through our eyes,

but it is our heart that has the greatest gift of sight.


That very day יהוה spoke to Moses: Ascend these heights of Abarim to Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab facing Jericho, and view the land of Canaan, which I am giving the Israelites as their holding. You shall die on the mountain that you are about to ascend, and shall be gathered to your kin, as your brother Aaron died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his kin; for you both broke faith with Me among the Israelite people, at the waters of Meribath-kadesh in the wilderness of Zin, by failing to uphold My sanctity among the Israelite people. You may view the land from a distance, but you shall not enter it—the land that I am giving to the Israelite people.

Deuteronomy 32:48-52 (Translation from Sefaria)

תִּרְאֶ֣ה אֶת־הָאָ֑רֶץ


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