On the possuk (Devorim 3/23) “And I (Moshe) pleaded with Hashem at that time saying.” the Medrash (Yalkut Shemoni remez 812) asks, “Why did (Moshe) plead? In order to enter Eretz Yisroel.”
Zera Shimshon asks what is the Medrash teaching us that we didn’t know by ourselves? It says clearly in the subsequent pessukim that Moshe asked from Hashem to enter Eretz Yisroel!
Zera Shimshon explains in light of the Gemorro in Sotah (14A), “R. Simlai expounded: Why did Moshe Rabainu yearn to enter Eretz Yisroel? Did he want to eat its fruits or satisfy himself from its bounty? (Surely not.) Rather Moshe said to Hashem, “There are many mitzvos that were commanded to Yisroel which can only be fulfilled in Eretz Yisroel. I want to enter Eretz Yisroel in order to fulfill them!” HaKodesh Baruch Hue replied to him, ‘Is it only the reward (for fulfilling the mitzvos) that you want? I will ascribe them to you as if you did them!'”
From the fact that Moshe accepted Hashem’s response and didn’t continue to plead with Hashem, we see that Moshe’s was very concerned to receive reward for doing the mitzvos. The Maharsha asks how can we understand this? Seemingly this openly contradicts the mishne in Pirkei Avos (1/3), “Antiginos of Socho…. would say, ‘Do not be like servants who serve their master for the sake of receiving a reward but rather be like servants who serve their maser without the express intention of receiving a reward…'”!
The Maharsha answers his question but Zera Shimshon rejects it and quotes the Megaleh Amukos who gives another reason why Moshe so strongly yearned to enter Eretz Yisroel.
He explains in light of the Gemorro in Erchin (32B) that Hashem was angry at Yehoshua for not praying to eliminate the yetzer horro of avodah zoro like Ezra and Anshei Kennesses HaGedolah did at the time of the second Bais HaMikdash. The Gemorra asks why did Hashem get angry only at Yehoshua and not at Moshe? Moshe also didn’t davven to wipe out the yetzer horro of avodah zorah. The Gemorro answers that Moshe didn’t live in Eretz Yisroel. Since he was missing that merit, even if he did davven for this, his prayers wouldn’t have been effective. Therefore there was no reason for criticism.
According to this, concludes Megalah Amukos, we can understand that the reason that Moshe Rabainu wanted so desperately to enter Eretz Yisroel was in order to have the merit of Eretz Yisroel in order to davven to eliminate the yetzer horro of avodah zorah and bring the world to complete perfection.
In the same fashion, concludes Zera Shimshon, we can explain the intent of the Medrash that says that Moshe pleaded to Hashem to enter Eretz Yisroel. It is giving another answer to R. Simlai’s question of why did Moshe yearn so greatly to enter Eretz Yisroel. The reason was not, as R. Simlai explains, in order to be rewarded for doing the extra mitzvos that are applicable only there. Rather he yearned to enter Eretz Yisroel for the sole sake of being there. If he would be in Eretz Yisroel then in that merit he would have the power to davven to rid the world of the yetzer horro of avodah zorah and to bring the world to its perfect state!
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