We are seeking to understand why there is constant reference to Moshe Rabbeinu’s seeing the Land, to the point of apparent incongruity: Hashem “insisting” that Moshe Rabbeinu’s request of “crossing the Yarden and seeing the Land” (Devarim posuk 25) will be fulfilled by allowing Moshe to see it from Har Nevo (ibid 34:1 and 4; see ibid 3:27 with Rashi)! And what about the implication that the purpose of entering the Land would be to “see it” (ibid 3:25), and the Gemara’s quite logical different conclusion that Moshe Rabbeinu’s purpose in his deep desire was to fulfill the mitzvos associated with the Land?
The first point we made was to understand that the reward of a mitzvah ultimately is the very kedushah and closeness to Hashem that it engenders.
The Ramban (Vayikra 18:25) describes Eretz Yisroel in the following fashion: “Hashem is the G-d of all powers outside the Land of Israel, but in Eretz Yisroel He is the ‘direct’ G-d of the Land which is the ‘heritage of Hashem’… The celestial ministers, stars and constellations are foreign in the Land of Israel (even regarding their power as agents of Hashem found outside)… The Land is thus not like other lands, it does not sustain sinners… and this is the meaning of the statement of our Sages ‘Anyone who dwells outside the Land of Israel it is as if he has no G-d’ (Kesuvos 110B)… Chazal further say, ‘As long as you are in the Land, I am a G-d unto you, but when you are not in the Land…’ And so it says (Divrei Hayamim I: 22:18) ‘And the land has been conquered before Hashem and before His people.’ Based on this concept, the Sages state in Sifrei, ‘And so even though I exile you from the Land, make yourselves “distinguished” through my commandments so that when you return to the Land they will not be new to you’… Now, the passage (from which Chazal derive this) is talking about personal non-Land-related obligations such as tefillin and mezuzos, and yet the Sages say that the reason for fulfilling such mitzvos in exile is in order that they not be new to us when we return to the Land of Israel (implying that even the fulfillment of commandments which are clearly binding outside the Land are somehow only ‘practice’ for their ultimate and true fulfillment in Eretz Yisroel)… For in fact, the primary obligation of all of the commandments is for those who reside in the Land of G-d… and this is the meaning of Chazal that dwelling in the Land of Israel is equal in importance to observing all the commandments of the Torah. For living in Eretz Yisroel leads almost automatically to a more complete fulfillment of all the Laws of the Torah.” (The Ramban there goes on at length; this citation is but a small part of the entire piece.)
What this teaches us is that there is nowhere that one can get closer to Hashem than in Eretz Yisroel, as the potential for closeness here is incomparable to other places; that it is in that context that Hashem gave His Land to His servants to serve Him there, thus enabling the ultimate in devotion and unity, since the purpose of the mitzvos are to achieve that closeness to Hakadosh Baruch Hu; therefore, the principal place for kiyum hamitzvos is indeed Eretz Yisroel.
This is what Moshe Rabbeinu was seeeking to achieve.
Does “seeing” only refer to the physical sense of sight? What about “And Hashem saw that it was good”? (Bereishis 1:4 and throughout the story of Creation). What about “See, how Hashem has given you the Land… (Devarim 1:21)? Or “See, how I have taught you laws and ordinances as Hashem has taught me” (Devarim 4:5)? Or “See how I give you today a choice, blessing or a curse… life or death” (ibid 11:26 or 30 :15)?
What is this deeper meaning of this seeing, observing, perceiving, scrutinizing?
Let us see, understand, note and comprehend (all included in the first word “see”) the Ramban (Bereishis 1:4): The method used in the accounting of Creation is that G-d’s bringing things into a state of being is called “saying” (“And Hashem said let there be light and there was light… And Hashem said Let there be a firmament… and Hashem said let the earth sprout vegetation…”). And the establishment of the permanent existence of those things is called seeing, as is stated in Koheles, “And I saw that…” And further on in Bereishis, “And the woman saw that the tree was good for eating…” And Chazal say (Kesuvos 108B), “I see the words of Admon,” meaning I conclude that Admon’s opinion is true and worthy of upholding. The idea is to indicate that the continued existence of all things is also dependent on G-d’s continued Will, and if His desire would depart for one moment, they would cease to exist. “And Hashem saw that it was good” means that Hashem willed its permanent existence.
Seeing, really “seeing,” the spiritual “seeing” which is the physical’s counterpart, is a statement of will that something exists, of acknowledgement of the truthfulness and correctness of something’s very being (just as the physical seeing is a physical acknowledgement of something’s being there).
And so now we understand. Moshe Rabbeinu wanted to enter Eretz Yisroel in order to “see it” — to acknowledge its specialness, to subscribe to and attest to its closeness to Hashem, and for him to be part of that closeness, attainable only in Eretz Yisroel through its mitzvos — no, through all the mitzvos! And Hashem indeed let Moshe see it the way he wanted to see it, expressing the longing and craving for Hashem’s nearness. This created its own dynamic, and Hashem indeed responded, as we saw last week (Gemara Sotah 14A): “I consider it as if you have done this,” the closeness has been achieved!
Morai v’rabosai, gentlemen and ladies: Do you see the point?
May all of us coming here through physical aliyah grow further. And as Beis Tefilla Yonah Avrohom’s mission statement proclaims (in part): “…which fosters and develops the avodas Hashem (including chibas Eretz Yisroel) of English-speakers in Eretz Yisroel, in order to help them grow in their aliyah ruchanis!”