V’Etchanan: True Love Is Selfless

We learn that Moshe fervently prayed, asked for favor/Grace, Chen, חן, 515 times (which is the gematria, numerical value, of the word “v’etchanan“, ואתחנן), begging God to overturn His previous decision to bar him (Moshe) from entering The Land. Moshe’s entire adult life was dedicated to leading the Jewish People, first out of slavery and later into the promised Land of Israel, showing them how to conquer and then fully dwell in (by being fully in harmony with the perfection of) The Land. It was a crushing verdict, barring him from doing that.

But we’re taught a very curious thing when God replied to him, Rav L’cha רב לך, “That is many (enough) for you”, implying that had he prayed just once more, the 516th time, God would have no choice but to grant him his request. We’d expect that, just as you and I, in our frail humanity, certainly would have to gain our dream, Moshe would have immediately made that one additional plea. Instead he stops and remains silent, thus forever refused entry.

Moshe, a prophet, the paradigm of Prophet, foresaw exactly what would have happened had he led The People. He would have been, as it were, The Mashiach. Leading Am Yisrael as the Melech, the King, he would have conquered the land, made Jerusalem into the eternal capital and built the Bet HaMikdash, The Holy Temple. We, and the world, would have immediately entered Geula, the realm of Ultimate Redemption and we would lived in a world of eternal perfection.

Except, and this is a difficult idea to conceptualize, we would have found ourselves in an eternally “inferior perfection”. Perfect in that everything would be optimized, but inferior in that it could have been yet better. In fact, it would have lacked to possibility of ever becoming better.. Moshe saw that this shortcut, without the subsequent destructions and exiles and rebuilding and seemingly ultimate devestation and almost endless exile from which we, two thousand years later, are just beginning to emerge, without all the learning and growth that comes only from facing and experiencing pain and disaster, would have been, as it were, an immature type of “perfection”. He didn’t want to condem us to eternal infancy, being forever stuck, without having  permanently incorporated within our experience and character the essence of growth and change.

In order to guarantee that our highest destiny, Olam HaBa, The World That Comes (“the world to be” is a faulty translation) is one of eternal growth and not, chas v’shalom, eternal stagnation, he had to give up his own second deepest desire (his deepest desire being the welfare of his people).

Thus we learn that true love, the only love worthy of the name, is entirely selfless.

Shabbat Shalom

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1 Response to V’Etchanan: True Love Is Selfless

  1. nlc@zahav.net.il says:

    Thanks, love, nathan

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