I implored G-d at that time...
Moshe tells the nation how he prayed fervently to enter the land but was refused and told by G-d to cease from requesting.
We are taught that the word used for prayer here, ואתחנן, is numerically equivalent to שירה, a song, indicating that Moshe’s ‘petition’ was more a song of constant praise than it was a incessant plea.
If he had been beseeching G-d we can understand why G-d asked him to stop, but if he was merely ‘singing’ why would Moshe have to stop praising G-d?
The Midrash describes how after being told his wish could not be granted, Moshe then appeals to G-d to at least enter the land in the form of a beast of the field that grazes and drinks water who takes in the scenery, “so shall I be one of them.” G-d declines the entreaty. Moshe then asks that he may be permitted to be a bird who flies the four corners of the earth in search of food returning nightly to its nest, “so shall I be one of them.” Once again, he is turned down.
What possible value would there be in Moshe transforming into a bird? Do birds reap rewards for their efforts? Is there value in non-free willed creatures instinctive actions?
Every facet of creation is an expression of G-d’s presence. The role of man is to promote the glory of Heaven, revealing His magnificence.
During these months enduring Covid-19, I have been for the most part stationing myself right outside the window of the Shul and praying safely outdoors. Although I should be focusing more on my davening, inevitably the beautiful birds that fly around in the still of the early morning is a sight and sound that evokes both marvel and joy in sensing His presence.
The great Gadol, Rav Shach, would explain that Moshe would most certainly have been embodied as a resplendent bird. A young child catching a glimpse of this magnificent bird alighting a tree, would reflexively express, “Oh wow, Ribbono Shel Olam, what an amazing bird you created!”
Blessed is He, our G-d, Who created us, for His glory...
All Moshe pined for was to be a vessel for His glory. If he was no longer destined in his role as a free willed devotee, let him at least serve as a ‘living’ vehicle to express G-d’s greatness on earth. This, he pined for more than the glorious promised reward that awaited him in the upper realms upon his demise.
Perhaps that is the deeper meaning in Moshe’s prayer being expressed in song. He sang the glory of G-d, with a unique ‘birds eye view’, as only one so great as Moshe could fathom and perceive, genuinely longing to serve in any role that may exult in the glory of Heaven.
Although this level of devotion is beyond the ken of most of us, we still can aspire to a modified form of this ideal.
During Tisha B’Av we grieve over that which we are missing in our lives, that stifle our ability to connect to the Almighty. The most profound loss is that of the Temple and the inspired lifestyle associated with it. Part of that larger vacuum are the many challenges of ‘distance’ from G-d we each face. Whether it be the tribulation of illness, death, poverty, emotional strife, childlessness, loneliness, and the pantheon of trials in life that give us pause and test our resolve in the belief that G-d is always with us.
When we are able to accept those realities and see His benevolence in all the generous opportunities we are provided, relishing them as vehicles of closeness to Him, is the moment we soar on high gaining that ‘bird’s-eye view’ of His all-encompassing love.
Efraim once took his grandfather to the Kosel.
He had come to Israel for a visit and asked to be taken there as soon as possible. He needed it. He had suffered through years of heartbreak watching his beloved wife wither away from illness. When she died, he was distraught with pain.
The sudden loss of a precious grandchild tormented him. He was beside himself.
Efraim respectfully stood behind his zeidy, allowing him to approach alone, expecting a cauldron of tears that were certainly to spill over.
His zeidy surprisingly asks him for a pen and paper. He wanted to write a kvittel. Before he placed the small paper between the hallowed, creviced stones, he turned to his grandson. “I want you to see what I wrote.”
Efraim shuddered. With trembling hands, he opened the folded paper. There were two words: “Thank You.”
“Hashem has given me so much, a wonderful family and everything I need. I have so much to be thankful for.”
He poured out a heart full of thanks. (Inyan Magazine, Dov Fuchs, An American in Yerushalayim)
What a bird’s eye view of G-d’s Hashgacha! Such a sweet song! A man who truly embodies the fulfillment of: Blessed is He, our G-d, Who created us, for His glory...!
May we each transform our perception of our life and its exquisite bond with the Almighty, into a joyous expression of life!
May we find comfort in His warm and firm grasp of our hands no matter where we may find ourselves.
צבי יהודה טייכמאן