Syria can wait, Iran is not going anywhere. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
set aside two hours Tuesday afternoon to discuss with a group of rabbis and
scholars why God did not let Moses pass over to the Promised Land.
Moses went up from the plains of Moav to the Mountain of Nebo,” Netanyahu read
in his baritone voice from the last chapter of Deuteronomy. “And the Lord showed
him all the land of Gil’ad, to Dan, and all Naftali, and the land of Ephraim and
Menashe and all the land of Yehuda, as far as the utmost sea... I have caused
thee to see it with thy eyes, but thou shall not go over there.”
punishment seemed so cruel, Netanyahu said to those gathered, which included the
two chief rabbis for the first time since he initiated a periodic Bible study
circle in his home last year in memory of his father-in-law Shmuel Ben-Artzi, a
noted Bible teacher and enthusiast.
“Because he hit the rock he was not
allowed into the land. What is the logic behind that, it seems unjust?”
One of the participants, Binyamin Ish Shalom, the founder of Jerusalem’s Bet
Morasha, explained that Moses was not punished for any sin he committed, but
rather because one type of leader was needed to lead the Jews out of slavery and
into freedom, and quite another was needed to lead them as a free, sovereign
people inside their own land.
Another participant, Prof. Zaki
Shalom of the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, said the saga of Moses’s death
showed that leaders give to their people, but do not always get back what they
gave in kind. Moses, he posited as Netanyahu listened intently, expected his
people to entreat to God on his behalf, but no entreaties came.
said that he has traveled all over the world, and has always wanted to go to
Mount Nebo on the east side of the Jordan River. The occasion once presented
itself, he said – not saying when or under what circumstances – but he fell ill
and his wife and sons went in his stead. He said he still hopes to make the
visit someday. Then he noted the irony.
“Moses could not enter the
Promised Land, and we merit that privilege to be here in the land of our
forefathers thanks to him and thanks to the struggle of our people,” he said.
“And we bless every second. It is a great privilege to read this great book and
to know that we are fulfilling what God commanded our people. The fact that this
is our inheritance and that we are here to stay – in that way we are fulfilling
The Prime Minister’s Office, along with the Menachem Begin
Heritage Center, organized the event. It was the fourth meeting of this study
circle, which is a reincarnation of a tradition that David Ben-Gurion had began
when, as prime minister, he hosted a regular Bible study circle.
also held regular Bible study sessions.