By Shani Taragin
“Let me go over, I pray Thee, and see the good land that is beyond the Jordan, that goodly hill country and Lebanon” (Devarim 3:25).
Thus Moshe beseeched God to be allowed to enter western Eretz Yisrael.
Our Sages teach us that Moshe’s desire to enter the Land was motivated by a spiritual need. Rabbi Simla’i expounded: Why did Moshe wish to enter E. Yisrael? Did he need to eat of its fruit or fill himself of its goodness? Rather, Moshe said: “Many mitzvot have been commanded to Israel and can be fulfilled only in E. Yisrael; I will enter in order to fulfill these mitzvot.” (Sotah 14a)
Or HaChayim relates Moshe’s request to the Talmudic statement: “One who walks four cubits within the Land of Israel is guaranteed that he is a ‘son of the World to Come’” (Ketubot 111a). Moses wished to enter the Land for the “benefit of his soul and for the desired pleasure, which is the World to Come.”
Iyyun Ya’akov, in turn, relates this Talmudic statement to another: “The Holy One, blessed be He, has only the four cubits of Halakha.” He explains that one who walks the four cubits of Halakha within the Land of Israel, whose atmosphere conveys wisdom, is guaranteed the World to Come, as our Sages say: “One who repeats Halakha daily is guaranteed the World to Come.”
We wish to suggest another explanation, based upon the approach of the Maharal, who comments that “four cubits” represents one’s personal space. Walking four cubits represents leaving one’s space. Thus, the Talmud is saying: One who takes advantage of the Land of Israel to further himself spiritually is indeed guaranteed that he is a “son of the World to Come.”
Originally appeared in OU’s Torah Tidbits