Moshe Empowered You Too!

Click here for Hebrew text (freely translated by Gabbai Seth Fishman)

Since we left Sinai, we’ve been moving towards the Land. Moshe is near the end of his life. He begins his address which is the book of Devarim / Deuteronomy:

On that side of the Jordan, in the land of Moab” (Deuteronomy 1:5), Moshe is outside of the Land.

From outside the Land, הואיל משה / hoil moshe / “Moshe commenced” (ibid).

And this phraseology, hoil Moshe is uncommon. The targum / Aramaic translation is sharei moshe which means that he gave his permission. He gave permission that the ones who come after him, after his passing, for all future time, could explain it each in his own way just as he’s about to do in Devarim. Moshe is explaining the Torah and as he does so, he’s setting an example and giving permission for the rest of us that we are welcome to explain it following his example so that it should be a source that will strengthen itself over time.

Just as God told it to Moses, and Moses is telling it to us, so we are empowered to tell others. Each one is allowed to tell it through the prisms of his or her experience, the shoresh haneshama / soul rootings, the personality and one’s sense of what is the emet / truth of it. We are partners with God in creation and we’re partners with God in terms of our being empowered to take the words of the wisdom tradition and to express them as they make sense according to each and every one of our intellects, sensibilities and intuitions.


And as is explained in the book Mei Hashiloach, on the phrase (ibid 9), “And I said to you at that time saying, ‘I cannot carry you alone’“, Moshe was saying, in effect, “you people know how important it is for me to be able to go into the Land; I really want to go into the Land with you. Please have it in your hearts to be compassionate and empathetic and to wish for me to join you, to be with you as you go into the Land. I hope that you will pray to God on my behalf.” But Moshe did not find people who understood that this is what he wished. Here’s a paraphrase of what is stated in Mei Shiloach in this section:

The role that Moses was given was to receive the Torah. The role that Joshua was given was to bring them into the Land. When they were told: ‘You’ve been here at the mountain for a long enough time’ and that they should turn and head toward the Land, at that moment Moses recognized that the end of his tenure was imminent and his focus became weaker. This is when he started to say ‘I cannot carry… I don’t have the strength’.

Then he said, ‘Let’s appoint my replacement to bring these people into the Land’. The Israelites didn’t want a different leader and, Moshe knew that they were in favor of his remaining as the leader. Although we find that later, he was to directly ask of, and pray to Hashem for permission to enter the Land with the Israelites, (cf. beginning of Parashat Vaetchanan), nonetheless, he told them now about not having the strength because he was trying to make them understand that he needed their prayers.

Alas, they didn’t get it and they said, ‘fine, okay’, but they didn’t understand.

That is why afterwards when he said ‘and I gathered from among you’, he left out the word for people of understanding, because he didn’t find anybody who understood that he wanted them to pray for him. He couldn’t find anyone who could understand his real meaning. If they had understood and prayed, he would likely have been successful petitioning Hashem.

God compares the Israelites to stars. Why not to the sun and the moon which are bigger? Because a person’s chochmah one day will be null and void, but the stars represent that place where God illuminates and enlightens the eyes of a person; and this lasts forever.” (end of Mei Shiloach paraphrase)

And it seems that “And I said to you at that time saying“, [i.e., Moshe describing when he realized that he would not go into the Land], and (Deuteronomy 3:23), “I entreated Hashem at that time saying,” [i.e. when he himself prayed for this], both suggest that it was a propitious time for receiving the Tefilah, and here’s the proof: It is written (ibid 10), “God has multiplied you as the stars of heaven in abundance,” [which suggests the extent that we have God’s illumination within us and that our prayers have power. Had we realized that power at this time in our history, and not isolated Moshe as a lone prophet who had to do it all, then our prayer would likely have tipped the scales and he would have been able to enter the Land.]


How can I bear all by myself,” (Deut 1:12). How could he possibly do it all by himself? Trouble you have made” with military raids ~ while in the Midbar. “The burdens you have caused“, the churban of the beit rishon and avodah zara which have become as a cloud of iniquity hanging over our heads. We put a wedge between ourselves and God through these idols which created a burden for Moshe. “And the strife you have caused,” lack of peace, destruction of the second Temple, baseless hatred.

[We sat back waiting for Moshe, as though passive victims, not working to get where we needed to get. There are things that we can do. 1) We can we can recognize the deep ecumenism that exists and work to move closer to our co-religionists seeking common ground rather than ways we’re different; 2) We can grow a connection to the Source of life, removing barriers between ourselves and God through dedicating time to pray and study. 3) We can love our neighbors as ourselves and deal with people who anger us, who go against our wishes in ways that honor them. The reason Moshe was overwhelmed was that we weren’t doing our parts. He was reaching to us to let us know how important our part was, but the message has gotten lost over the ages, and instead what’s come down is how we have a hierarchical religion where the leaders make all the decisions and so we feel disempowered.]

2 Responses to “Moshe Empowered You Too!”

  1. Monique~Miriam Says:

    ” But the word is very near to thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayst do it.”
    Devarim 30: 11-14

    ” Rather, the kingdom is inside and outside you. When you know yourselves, then you will be known, and will understand that you are children of the Living God. But if you do not know yourselves, then you live in poverty and embody poverty.”
    Gospel of Thomas, saying 3

  2. Gabbai Seth Fishman (Blog Editor) Says:


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