Parsha Pearls: Parshas Vezos Habracha

Loyalty to the Government
Israel Will Never Again Arise On Her Own

And Hashem said to him, "This is the land that I promised to Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov, saying, to your seed I will give it. I have shown it to you in your eyes, but you will not cross over there." (Devarim 34:4)

The Midrash (Parshas Masei, on Bamidbar 34:2) says that this teaches that Hashem showed Moshe a vision of Gehinom. Moshe began to be afraid, but Hashem said, "I have shown it to you in your eyes, but you will not cross over there." Where does the Midrash see in this verse any reference to Gehinom? The verse is only saying that Moshe was permitted to see Eretz Yisroel.

The answer is based on the Midrash in Bereishis Rabba 44:21: "Hashem showed Avraham four things: Gehinom, the exiles, the giving of the Torah and the Temple. He said to him, “As long as your descendents are busy with the last two, they will be spared the first two. But if they leave the last two, they will get the first two. [Since the Temple will one day be destroyed, they will have to get one of the punishments.] Which punishment do you choose for them?” Rabbi Chanina bar Papa said: Avraham chose the exiles. Rabbi Yudan, Rabbi Idi and Rabbi Chama bar Chanina said: Avraham chose Gehinom, but Hashem chose for him the exiles…Rabbi Huna said in the name of Rabbi Acha: Avraham was sitting and thinking all that day: “What should I choose, Gehinom or exile?” Said the Holy One, blessed is He, to him, “Avraham! Throw away that coin [of Gehinom]!”

Thus by enduring the exile we are sparing ourselves the suffering of Gehinom. When G-d showed Moshe Eretz Yisroel, He also showed him the entire future of the Jewish people, including the exile when they would be expelled from the Holy Land. Moshe was very upset over this, so G-d showed him Gehinom so that he would know what the Jewish people were being spared by living in exile. (Vayoel Moshe 1:113)