The Secret to Moses’ Strength

Yael Eckstein  |  October 8, 2020

Moses views Promised Land
God shows Moses the Promised Land. Engraving by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld

And Moses the servant of the LORD died there in Moab, as the LORD had said. He buried him in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is. Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone. — Deuteronomy 34:5-7

Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. This week’s Torah portion is V’Zot HaBerachah, which means “this is the blessing,” from Deuteronomy 33:1–34:12, which concludes the reading of the Torah.

In this week’s Torah reading we conclude the Five Books of Moses. In the final chapter, we read how Moses went up to Mount Nebo, saw the Promised Land, and then passed away. We are given this beautiful description of Moses on his last day: “Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone.” Moses died full of vigor, as though he were a young man.

Wouldn’t we all like to end our lives like that? What was the secret to Moses’ strength?

Just two verses earlier, Scripture refers to Moses as “the servant of the LORD.” Moses lived his life as a servant to God, giving everything he had to God’s purposes. If you consider all that this entailed — from confronting Pharaoh on behalf of the Israelites to leading the people through the desert — we might have assumed that Moses would be thoroughly exhausted at the end of his life. And yet, the opposite is true. The man who served God and His people more than anyone else was more invigorated on his dying day than anyone else. This was his secret!

This is the wonder of giving and service. In Isaiah 40:31 we read: “But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary…” Those who serve the Lord will not lack in strength. Rather, God will constantly renew them.

The Jewish sages pointed out that the last thing that happens in the Bible is that God buries Moses. One of the first things to happen in the Bible (after Creation itself) is that God clothed Adam and Eve. The sages explained that this teaches us that from beginning to end, the theme of the Bible is kindness. It all comes to teach us to serve God by serving each other.

As we conclude this section of the Bible, let us heed the call to kindness and service, and may God give us strength to serve Him in good health, for many years to come!

Your turn:

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