Rabbi Samlai taught: With regard to the Torah, its beginning is an act of kindness and its end is an act of kindness. Its beginning is an act of kindness, as it is written: “And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skin, and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21). And its end is an act of kindness, as it is written: “And he was buried in the valley in the land of Moab” (Deuteronomy 34:6). Rabbi Samlai taught: For what reason did Moses our teacher greatly desire to enter Eretz Yisrael? Did he need to eat of its produce, or did he need to satisfy himself from its goodness? Rather, this is what Moses said: Many mitzvot were commanded to the Jewish people, and some of them can be fulfilled only in Eretz Yisrael, so I will enter the land in order that they can all be fulfilled by me. The Holy One said to him: Do you seek to enter the land to perform these mitzvot for any reason other than to receive a reward? I will ascribe you credit as if you had performed them and you will receive your reward, as it is stated: “Therefore will I divide him a portion among the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the mighty; because he bared his soul unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12).
Rabbi Samlai proceeds to expound the verse “Therefore will I divide him a portion among the great” to mean that he will receive reward. One might have thought that he will receive reward like the later ones and not like the earlier ones, so the verse states: “And he shall divide the spoil with the mighty,” meaning like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who were mighty in Torah and in mitzvot. “Because he bared his soul unto death,” meaning he gave himself over to death on behalf of the Jewish people, as it is stated: “Yet now, if You will forgive their sin; and if not, blot me, I pray You, out of Your book that You have written” (Exodus 32:32). “And was numbered with the transgressors,” meaning that he was counted among those who died in the desert, for, just like them, he did not enter Eretz Yisrael. “Yet he bore the sin of many,” as he atoned for the incident of the Golden Calf. “And made intercession [yafgia] for the transgressors,” as he requested mercy for the sinners of Israel so that they should engage in repentance. And the word pegia means nothing other than prayer, as it is stated: “Therefore pray not you for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession [tifga] to Me; for I will not hear you” (Jeremiah 7:16).