See Numbers 20:1–13. Could Moshe Rabbeinu have made atonement for striking the rock, so he could have entered the promised land?


1 Answer 1


At first glance it seems that the disgrace to G-d's reputation (hillul Hashem) was great enough that the answer was no.

Rambam, Laws of Repentance 1:12

יב במה דברים אמורים, בשלא חילל את השם בעת שעבר. אבל המחלל את השם--אף על פי שעשה תשובה והגיע יום הכיפורים והוא עומד בתשובתו ובאו עליו ייסורין, אינו מתכפר לו כפרה גמורה עד שימות, אלא תשובה ויום הכיפורים וייסורין שלושתן תולין ומיתה מכפרת, שנאמר "ונגלה באוזניי, ה' צבאות: אם יכופר העוון הזה לכם, עד תמותון" (ישעיהו כב,יד).

When do the above guidelines (for repentance) apply, when one did not disgrace G-d's reputation when sinning. But one who disgraces the reputation [lit. "name"] of G-d -- though he may have repented, and Yom Kippur arrived, and he was afflicted by calamities -- he is not granted complete atonement until his death. Rather, repentance, Yom Kippur, and calamities postpone, and death atones.

  • The question now is why did Hashem tell Moshe to stop davening? I guess Moshe was wasting time on a lost cause? I've heard that moshe was davening so hard that Hashem, within the rule of tefillah and judgement, would have 'had' to allow moshe in to Israel.
    – user3114
    Commented Sep 17, 2013 at 16:25
  • @Justaguy yes some say such a thing; personally I don't like that idea. (Similar discussion, the Jews thought they could stop Moshe from dying. By praying? Or just keeping him off Mt. Nevo?) G-d is G-d and we can't force Him, no matter how nicely we ask. It could be to avoid Moshe's heartbreak -- but furthermore, think about all the people watching, and how much more disappointed they'll be if Moshe carries on for longer -- and they need to get it in their heads early and often that Moshe won't be around much longer, they need to plan for a future without him.
    – Shalom
    Commented Sep 17, 2013 at 16:34
  • It is reasonable to say that Gd was telling Moshe that he could not do teshuva and that davening was a reprehensible waste of time and energy. I like to say that Moshe's part in our history had come to a close, and while it might have been possible to attone, he wasnt meant to, so he was told stop and he did. To me, the highest level of cogniscence is a realization that this is one big play and we are actors within it. Of course we must act, thats the purpose of our existence, but for the highest among us, we can hear from the Director when its time to bow out. Moshe bowed out.
    – user3114
    Commented Sep 22, 2013 at 17:05

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