The Medrash Rabba (Devarim Rabba 2:8)
comments that Moses was banned from entering the
land of Israel because he did not sanctify G-ds
name at the quarrelsome waters (Numbers 20:12).
But, the Medrash asks, why wasn't Moses buried
The Medrash answers itself by pointing
to the contrast between Joseph and Moses.
After Moses killed an Egyptian officer
in defense of his fellow Jew, he fled Pharaoh’s
palace and became a fugitive wandering the
outskirts of Midian. There, he rescued Yisro’s
daughters who were being abused by the other
shepherds as they tried to water their flock. (Shemot
When Yisro's daughters told their father
what happened, they said, “an Egyptian man saved
us from the shepherds, and he even drew water
for us and watered the sheep.” (Exodus 2:19)
Yisro’s daughters identified Moses as an
By contrast, when Joseph was framed for
acting promiscuously with his master's wife, she
said, “Look, he brought us a Hebrew man to sport
with us, He came to lie with me, but I called
out with a loud voice.” (Genesis 39:14) Joseph
was identified as a Hebrew.
Joseph was ultimately buried in Israel.
Moses, who neglected to correct Yisro's
daughters, was denied the honor of being buried
in the Holy Land.
Moses taught us the Torah, led us
through the desert, spoke with G-d face to face,
and always prayed for us. Is the Medrash
actually telling us that Moses wasn’t buried in
Israel because Yisro’s daughters mistook him for
an Egyptian? Apparently so.
How a person is introduced, even
casually, is a definitive statement of who he
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