“You may view the land from a distance, but you shall not enter it – the land that I am giving to the Israelite people.” (Deuteronomy 32:52)
The end of Moses’ life had arrived. God called him to the top of the mountain to look over the Promised Land. He can view it, but he will never enter it. Moses would leave behind a powerful vision of a new nation living in a new land. He himself would never live there. But his great vision will sustain the people. Our story continues as God’s people, but the Torah is almost at an end with the final chapter of Moses’ life and the opening chapter of our new life in the Promised Land.
Moses spends his whole life journeying toward the Promised Land. The great goal of his entire career is to bring the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage to freedom in the Land of Israel. Surely if anyone ever deserved to reach their ultimate goal, that person was Moses. Yet even Moses cannot enter his final destination, he can only approach it, only approximate it, and only view it from the outside.
Moses was blessed to have that great vision, even though he would never attain it. His vision was a gift for future generations—to our children and to all generations.
Honi the Wise One was also known as Honi the Circle Maker. By drawing a circle and stepping inside of it, he would recite special prayers for rain, sometimes even argue with God during a drought, and the rains would come. He was, indeed, a miracle maker. As wise as he was, Honi sometimes saw something that puzzled him. Then he would ask questions so he could unravel the mystery.
One day, Honi the Circle Maker was walking on the road and saw a man planting a carob tree. Honi asked the man, “How long will it take for this tree to bear fruit?”
The man replied, “Seventy years.”
Honi then asked the man, “And do you think you will live another seventy years and eat the fruit of this tree?”
The man answered, “Perhaps not. However, when I was born into this world, I found many carob trees planted by my father and grandfather. Just as they planted trees for me, I am planting trees for my children and grandchildren so they will be able to eat the fruit of these trees.”
This has always been a perfect story for Tu b’Shevat. But, it also reminds us how important it is for us to keep our dreams alive, so that future generations can realize them.