The Holy Land– the greatest gift of all
The opening verse of this week’s Torah portion begins Moses’ account of how he prayed to enter the land of Israel:
“And I entreated God at that time, saying.”
The Midrash explains that when God fulfills a person’s prayer, it can be either by virtue of their merits or, if they have no merits, He does so gratuitously. Even though Moses was certainly righteous and could have supplicated God by virtue of his good deeds and Torah study, he chose not to. Instead he pleaded that God not judge him as He judges the righteous (indeed, Moses did not consider himself to be worthy at all), but rather, that he fulfill his wish of entering the Holy Land only as a gratis gift.
So we see that praying for a gift from God and entering the Holy Land are essentially connected to one another. This is alluded to in the sum of their numerical values. The gematria of “gratis gift” (מתנת חנם) is 988 (38 times 26) and that of “land of Israel” (ארץ ישראל) is 832 (32 times 26); together their sum is 1820 (also the number of times that the Name י־הוה appears in the entire Pentateuch), which equals 70, the value of the word “secret” (סוד) times 26, the value of Havayah (י־הוה), God’s essential Name. Juxtaposed, these two words allude to the verse, “God’s secret is for those who fear Him.”
In order to understand the secret of Moses entering the land of Israel, thereby bringing the final redemption, we will note that in the first few verses of this Torah portion the root עבר appears five times with various connotations. This root generally means “passing” as in the passage from one bank of the Jordan to the other, but it also means “impregnation.” Thus Moses’ statement that “God was furious with me” (ויתעבר הוי’ בי) can be understood as, “God impregnated Himself in me.” This alludes to the idea that ultimately, the passage into the Holy Land is dependent on God instilling a new Divine soul in Moses with which he will be empowered to lead the Jewish people to the final redemption.
God, as it were, must make the passage from His Divine realm into our physical realm by instilling His Divinity within Moses, thereby affecting the entire Jewish people. Once God has taken the initiative, Moses, as he appears in the soul of Mashiach will finally be able to pass over the Jordan and enter the Holy Land to complete his mission of redeeming the Jewish people.