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The Greatest Lesson of Moses’ Life

The greatest lesson we learn from Moses is found in his biggest disappointment, his primary failure. G-d tells Moses that he cannot enter the land – he can only see it. Moses can see the land – he has the vision of what can be in the future.  But it is Joshua, his lieutenant, a man who needs to be invested by Moses’ strength and courage, as well as by his vision of the future, who will actually lead the

Charge Joshua, and imbue him with strength and courage, for he shall go across at the head of this people, and he shall allot to them the land that you may only see.” (Deut. 3:28)

The underlying lesson is huge: Judaism is not something accomplished by one man, one time. Ours is an intergenerational challenge, a task that spans the history of the civilized world. Not even Moses could do all he set out to do; the task falls to his successor. Just as my goals in life will be achieved even if it is those who come after me who actually get it all done.

G-d may have prevented Moses from completing his goals just to teach this lesson: None of us gets to finish the job. We always have to pass on something to the next generation, to share our vision and carry things forward.

Moses did what he could. And he had to be satisfied that others would carry it on. There is no higher calling.

“You are not obligated to finish the work, but neither are you free to desist from it” (Pirke Avot 2:21)

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