As we move towards the season of Pesach and we welcome the season of passover, the grinding readings in our synagogues are focused on the edits for the promised land in the various decalogues. The exodus of the Israelites from Egypt marks Israel's declaration of independence from the government of pharaoh. 

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A question that has bugged civilizations and nations alike - why Moses was never allowed to enter the promised land. A question perhaps thats as contentious as the question raised by Charles darwin in his mono-themed evolutionary treatise - The Evolution of Species: What is a Species?

In real terms Moshe Rabbenu’s teaching and departure mirror a constant theme in the Torah - the idea that we live in a finite world in an infinite environment: the soul in the body.Thus at the gates of the promised land it is not the sadness by which Moshe departs that we must fix our gaze upon but it is the result by which it transcends time and space, and becomes - in modern politics - a teachable moment.



It is a Rabbinical question, but with political answers, why the great prophet, peace be upon him Moshe Rabbeinu - after an impressive leadership of the Israelites, is not allowed entrance into the promised land. This was a time for resting, a time for retirement - Moshe is retired by God from his position and humbly accepts.

True humility here is the love for what God is saying presently. Moses in this sense is the transmitter of the law but would not see its juridicial application. Under God’s law there is a season for everything -a time to lead, and a time to let others lead. What we can learn from this moment in Jewish history is that leadership, while divine in most instances, has its natural parameters.

These nominally being age and fitness; quality of intellect and wisdom. These attributes cannot be learnt at say Harvard School of Law or Yale for example but come directly from God. Moses was the transitional leader, with energy and vive, to move the Israelites, en masse to the promised land. However, he was not the promised leader of the promised land. A gleaning that on the surface looks pretty obvious, but is not given - that everyone expected Moses to enter the promised land as the leader.


More concretely what would have happened if Moses had entered the promised land? He would have been the overbearing leader to any new elected official or King. An example would be what happened in Kenya with Jomo Kenyatta or in South Africa with Nelson Mandela or more aggressively in India with Indira Ghandi - all these men had become the definition of their nations, another leader would have to seek permission from them to lead either directly or indirectly. Perhaps God wanted the Israelites to chose their own leader and not Moses recommend or approve, we don’t know. But for sure, no government would have been under Moses, he would have towered above the State, creating ultimately a dual Israeli identity between old and new generation. This potentially would have lead to conflict, division and possibly civil war. This is a political lesson as well, that perhaps the leaders of the Revolutionary eras are not the best first leaders of the new state. Already in Moshe Rabbenu’s life we have seen a wealth of complex phenomena. In the Parashat Korach Mosed pleaded with God, acting as a one man court of appeal for his sister Miriam. Moshe’s intervention reversed Miriams’s leposy. Few human beings have ever talked to God so directly and intimately; so persuasively.

At the end, even at the death of Moshe his death remains a lesson in holiness, by now he had transcended geography and become extremely Holy and a Statesman. Jewish Kings are given to being both Rabbis and leaders at the same time ( the edit to keep the Sefer Torah at all times), but Moses was gifted with being a High priest and a prophet at the same time, something that separated him from involvement in a national geography’s life. Moshe had become too big for the promised Land.


Ken Sibanda is an American Constitutional Attorney and Hollywood movie director. His next film is "1948." 
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