Same Ending... New Beginnings?
This time of year is always a bittersweet one for me. In a little over a week the Jewish People will once again celebrate the completion of the Torah, and the beginning of a new cycle.
How can one not get excited by the chance of getting to (re)acquaint oneself with the forefathers: Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya'akov, "the brothers"... the story of creation, the flood... all of the action and drama - hoping that perhaps this time around we won't make all of the same mistakes that we made the last time.
Yet, a part of me is sad.
In many ways, the weekly Torah portion is similar to a weekly installment of a hit TV show - like 24, for instance. I keep coming back each week to find out what's going to happen next. I want to see what the latest adventure / challenge / mishap the Jewish People are going to experience, and how Avraham / Yitzchak / Ya'akov / Joseph /Moshe will manage the work things our (more often than not) by the end of the Torah portion.
So, when we finally arrive at the end of the year (or season), unlike in a TV show, I already know two things, and both I find challenging to deal with.
1) Just as the Jewish people are finally going to enter the Land of Israel, after 40 years of wandering in the desert, the story abruptly ends. Want to know what happens next... well, then you have to go study the book of Prophets (on your own).
Unlike on TV, where the next season of a TV series is the continuing saga / storyline, here we only get reruns.
2) In the coming week's Torah portion we say goodbye to Moshe, the leader of the Jewish People, the one who took them out of slavery in Egypt, led them to Mount Sinai where they received the Torah, remained a pillar of strength as the Jewish People complained and stumbled their way through the wilderness, and ultimately led them to the gates of the Land of Israel.
How could one not get attached to Moshe. In many ways, Moshe is the type of leader that the Jewish People have lacked for so long, and one which we could sorely use today. For nearly 10 months of the year he is the guiding light of the Jewish People - past, present and future.
And now, after all that Moshe has done, we are asked to say goodbye.
To make matters all the more tragic, Moshe ultimately is refused entry into the Land of Israel due to an earlier mistake on his part, and he is only granted a view of the Land from the East Bank of the Jordan, courtesy of Hashem Himself, before he is laid to rest on Mount Nebo.
I have always struggled with the fact that Moshe was not granted access into Israel. How many people throughout the entire Jewish history wanted to enter the Land of Israel, if only for a fleeting moment, as much as Moshe?
How is it that someone like myself, as far as one can be from the lofty stature of Moshe, finds himself living in Israel, traveling to Jerusalem every single day, and yet Moshe was left on the outside looking in?
This should serve as food for thought for all members of the Jewish People. For those who choose to remain living outside of Israel, think about what Moshe, one of the greatest Jews ever, would have given to be able to enter the Land of Israel, while so many Jews to willingly remain living outside of Israel. For Jews who are fortunate enough to be living in the Land of Israel, extra effort must be made in order not to take this privilege for granted, as not all those who have prayed to merit living in the Land of Israel, orwho were of a higher spiritual caliber, have been granted the ability to do so.
It's a new year. A Fresh Start. Same old Story. New lessons to learn…
And hopefully live by.