Parshas Vayeilech
Deuteronomy 31:1 - 31:30

Moshe Our Teacher, Our Example
On Living, On Dying

By Dr. Akiva G. Belk

This study of the weekly parsha is dedicated in the loving memory of Mrs. Augusta Student Litman, may she rest in peace.

Our attention in this parsha is immediately drawn to Moshe Rabbeinu's age. Up until now, the last day of his life, his age has not been a factor. However, now it is part of this week's introduction. Is this an implication that all of a sudden Moshe's age has become a factor in his ability to function? No! In fact his age is used to focus attention on the reality that this was his very last day on earth.

As a side note, one should notice that even on Moshe's last day on earth his attention was not drawn to himself but to others! That in itself is a wonderful discussion...

In this parsha our attention is swiftly drawn to the reality that Moshe was not in a care facility, he was not using a walker and he did not require the assistance of an aide or a nurse. All of his natural and spiritual forces were perfectly functional. He did not retire. He vigorously labored up until the completion of his earthly obligation. Why then must he die? He wasn't sick. Why then must he leave this earth? He was a very valuable contributor.

The fact is each of us is on a clock. Unlike Moshe Rabbeinu, we may not know when our time is completed. Moshe had the opportunity to say goodby as a vibrant man of one hundred and twenty. This is quite a testimony to the man Moshe Rabbeinu. He was our teacher and still is... His life was squeaky clean! He was a very religious Jew! He was a completely honest man! Moshe was the example of humility. That being the case, why did he have to leave us? His time of serving and living in this location was concluded. There is no time beyond the time.

Moshe lived so clean in the public eye that everyday was like Rosh Hashanah / Yom Kippur to him! He lived everyday as if he would meet his Maker immediately! In fact Moshe did meet his Maker on a very regular basis as recorded in the Torah. What an example of living a holy life. Moshe was often called to the Tent of Meeting without notice. Immediately he appeared before his Maker time and time again. He would walk from the secular, the mundane into the holiest place on earth. Can one imagine living so purely?

As a result Moshe did not need to apologize to anyone for anything. What a way to live.

Notice the quality of life that Moshe experienced. He came from a very humble beginning. He was the son of parents held in captivity. He was the relative of slaves. His existence was threatened from before birth. As a child he was cast upon the water... The story of Moshe's life is incredible! What an example of leadership! What an example of righteousness!! The fact is he had a mission to fulfill. Moshe had an assignment from G-d from before the Creation of the world. This was the man especially reserved to receive G-d's call to lead Kal Yisroel forth from captivity, to receive the Torah on Har Sinai, to carry Yisroel through the wilderness experience and to train new leadership for the future. What a responsibility!

From what Moshe said in the beginning of this parsha, "I can no longer go out and come in..." it would seem like he was feeble. That is not the intended meaning of his words. He was simply expressing that he knew this was the day he was assigned to die. His responsibility on this earth was ending. He would now be joining G-d on a regular basis. He would be entering the holy portals where the righteous live after death. He was not fearful of death or the life after death. He was in constant contact with the Creator of mankind. He knew what was beyond the present day. He was the greatest prophet to ever live on this earth!!! He fulfilled his assignment in the highest form!

He wasn't taken up with preparing to die. The day arrived. He was prepared! He loved Kal Yisroel like a wise old grandfather. He was a great grandfather and a great leader and as a result his time on earth was truly fulfilled! He had to depart. That is what he meant when he said, "I can no longer go out and come in..."

He provided us with guidelines about living, learning, judging, teaching and dying. In the Stone Chumash it states, "Moses knew that this was the last day of his life, because, as the Zohar teaches, the most holy and righteous people are sensitive to spirituality, and are able to tell when the soul begins to ebb away from the body (Or Ha Chaim)."

Like A Visit From "The Beyond"
I knew a woman who experienced this. She was a member of my congregation... Less than one day before her assigned time was fulfilled she requested that I visit her. It was a very special meeting that we shared. From the onset of our precious time together it was clear that Rebekah's assignment was completed... Her soul was soon to depart... There is no way to describe her complete peacefulness I believe Rebekah was already experiencing the beyond. It was as if she had visited the beyond on previous night and had come back just to say goodby to her children, her grandchildren, her great grandchildren and her friends! I was very pleased to be her friend. She was so calm and instructive like Moshe Rabbeinu on his last day. There were other observable details that I will not mention, but I must say how very special it was to share time together before my friend departed this world.

My friends, we are approaching the Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. On Yom Kippur it will be announced, so to speak, whose assignments are concluding on this earth. Our combined goal should be to be as useful, kind, meek, instructive, caring and completely living until then, whenever then is... May we prepare and be as ready as our teacher, our example, Moshe Rabbeinu.

Wishing you the best,

Dr. Akiva G. Belk

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