Haazinu-V’zos Ha’Bracha: Love & Longing for Eretz Yisrael

Five years ago, during the Aseres Yimei Teshuva, on 7 Tishrei 5779, Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018, Ari Fuld, “The Lion of Zion”, HYD z’l, 45 years old, was stabbed to death at the Gush Etzion Junction shopping mall.  Ari made aliyah from NY in 1994, he was married and the father of 4 children.  He was also the grandson of a Holocaust survivor, his grandmother a survivor of the death camps.  He served in the IDF, and when, at age 40, he received his discharge papers from the reserves, he ripped them up and continued to serve.  Before succumbing to his mortal stab wounds that day, he managed to chase (over a short distance and low wall) the 17 year old terrorist yemach shemo – who was running after Hilla Peretz, the falafel shop owner (who had minutes before served him lunch!), with his knife drawn.  Tzitzit flying, gun at the ready, blood pouring down the back of his white shirt, Ari ran, and downed the terrorist (who survived the shooting R”L), and thereby saved Hilla’s life.  Ari was passionate about Eretz Yisrael, Medinat Yisrael, Am Yisrael and Torat Yisrael, ultimately giving his life for the Land, the nation and the G-d he so loved.  He was passionate about tefillah, specifically the prayer of Shema Yisrael, and passionate about the mitzvah of tzitzit.

As we come to the conclusion of the Chamishah Chumshei Torah, and the end of Moshe Rabbainu’s life, there is a recurring theme in the final conversations between Moshe and Hashem.  Beginning in Parshas Pinchas – which is the beginning of the end for Moshe – Hashem tells him that he will see the Land, but to there he will not cross (Bamidbar 27:12-13).  Unlike Yosef, another “Egyptian Jew,” whose remains merited burial in E”Y (Yehoshua 24:32), even this gift was denied to Moshe.  All that was permitted was that he would gaze upon the Land.

At the end of Parshas Haazinu, Moshe is once again told: עֲלֵה אֶלהַר הָעֲבָרִים הַזֶּה הַרנְבוֹ, אֲשֶׁר בְּאֶרֶץ מוֹאָב, אֲשֶׁר, עַלפְּנֵי יְרֵחוֹ; וּרְאֵה אֶתאֶרֶץ כְּנַעַן, אֲשֶׁר אֲנִי נֹתֵן לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לַאֲחֻזָּהGo up this Mount Avarim [to] Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moav, that is facing Yericho, and see the Land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel as a possession (Devarim 32:49).

And then, the very last words of G-d to the greatest prophet and servant of Hashem to ever live: זֹ֤את הָאָ֨רֶץ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר נִ֠שְׁבַּ֠עְתִּי לְאַבְרָהָ֨ם לְיִצְחָ֤ק וּלְיַֽעֲקֹב֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר לְזַרְעֲךָ֣ אֶתְּנֶ֑נָּה הֶרְאִיתִ֣יךָ בְעֵינֶ֔יךָ וְשָׁ֖מָּה לֹ֥א תַֽעֲבֹֽרThis is the Land I swore to Avraham, to Yitzchak, and to Yaakov, saying, ‘I will give it to your offspring.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but to there you shall not cross (V’zos HaBracha, Devarim 34:4).  Surely, as we read these words – told to Moshe repeatedly – we feel a great sense of pathos, emotion and melancholy.   The gift so many of us have merited – to walk the streets of the Land, kiss the stones of the Land, and enjoy the holy air of the Land – was denied to our holiest and greatest leader to ever live.

Aside from the answer of “sometimes G-d says no,” R’ Yissocher Frand shares another, deeper lesson that we learn from this.  R’ Frand teaches in the name of R’ Uziel Milevsky, zt”l: The Jewish people have seven faithful “shepherds”: Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov, Moshe, Aharon, Yosef, and Dovid (The “Succos Ushpizin”).  Each one of these shepherds corresponds to one of the Divine Attributes of the Sefirah-Count (Chessed, Gevura, Tiferes, Netzach, Hod, Yesod, Malchus).  For example, Avraham Avinu is the father of chessed [kindness]…Yitzchak manifests the attribute of gevurah [strength]. He willingly puts his neck on the altar, ready to be sacrificed.

What is the attribute of Moshe Rabbeinu? Moshe’s attribute is netzach [eternity] – that which lasts forever. Everything that Moshe Rabbeinu did in his life, he infused with the attribute of eternity (nitzchiyus). Everything he accomplished lasts forever. He was instrumental in the formation of Klal Yisrael, and our nation is la’netzach. Moshe Rabbeinu gave us the Torah, and Torah is la’netzach. So to speak, whatever he touched became “netzach”.

The RS”O, with His exquisite Divine Providence, arranged things so that Moshe Rabbeinu could not himself bring the Jewish people into E”Y or build the BHM”K (which would never have then be able to be destroyed.  It was necessary, however, for Hashem to destroy it, instead of destroying Am Yisrael; hence, Moshe could not enter the Land, nor build the BHM”K).  However, the RS”O still wanted Moshe Rabbeinu to “touch” one facet of E”Y and He wanted it to be la’netzach. That eternal middah Moshe imbued into the nation was the capacity to desire and longing for E”Y.  Moshe longed to see it, be part of it, and enter the Land (see Sotah 14a). This longing is something that Hashem wanted Moshe to experience.

This is why to a greater or lesser extent, depending on the individual, we all possess a connection with and a sense of longing for E”Y.  For many people, it is such a strong desire that it motivates them even to sacrifice, create hardship for themselves, and permanently move to E”Y.  Even for those of us who do not take that step, we really mean it when we daven “let our eyes see Your return to Zion with mercy“.  Where does emotional connection come from?  It comes from G-d asking Moshe to cast his eyes upon the beauty of E”Y and to bond with it, such that his soul would eternally long to be part of it. “Look at it. Want it. Desire it. Every single part of the Land of the Land” (cf. Devarim 34:1-3).

Hashem was building the spiritual DNA of Klal Yisrael. The spiritual DNA of Klal Yisrael has within it a longing and intense desire for E”Y.  וּרְאֵה אֶתאֶרֶץ כְּנַעַן, אֲשֶׁר אֲנִי נֹתֵן לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לַאֲחֻזָּה (Haazinu, 32:49).  And that now becomes a part of the eternal bond between E”Y and Am Yisrael, a bond that is truly la’netzach.

About his brother Ari HY”D, Hillel Fuld writes: Ari was a hero. But Ari was also my older brother. He was an uncle to so many nephews and nieces. He was a husband, a father, a son, a Torah scholar, a hardcore Zionist, a teacher, and a dedicated Jew.  Ari was larger than life.  It’s been almost five years but on the one hand, it feels like yesterday, and on the other hand, it feels like it’s fake, like it never happened.  We miss Ari every day, but on this day that we express sadness, we remember Ari’s life, we celebrate the man, and we remember that he gave his life for us to live safely in our home.  Ari impacted countless lives through his work and millions more through his legacy.  Ari was a giant of a man who taught us what one person can accomplish and that when something is so important, it’s worth fighting for.  (https://5townscentral.com/2023/04/25/hillel-fuld-shares-thoughts-on-his-brother-ari-hyd-fifth-yahrzeit/)

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