Parashat Vayelech (And he went) Deuteronomy 31:1-30


Parashat Vayeilech (And he went) Deuteronomy 31:1-30

Haftarah: Hosea 14:2-10, Joel 2:11-27, Micah 7:18-20

Shabbat Shuvah

In this week’s Torah portion Moses is bidding farewell to the Children of Israel. He is not sad at his impending death, but rather he encourages the people to move forward with Joshua, their new leader. It is not a surprise that Moses places an emphasis on the word of G-d and instructs the Kohanim to read the entire Torah before the people in Jerusalem every seven years, during the Sh’mittah year (the year that the fields are left fallow), when all of Israel comes up to the Holy City for the feast of Tabernacles.

And Moses commanded them saying, at the end of seven years during the appointed time of the Sh’mittah year at the festival of Tabernacles, when all of Israel comes to appear before the L-rd your G-d at the place which He will choose, you shall read the Torah before all of Israel in their ears.” Deuteronomy 30:10-11

From these verses one learns a few important truths that will assist a person in maturing spiritually. First, Moses reveals a proper timing for this command. So often in the Scripture HaShem is willing to move and bless His people, but not just at any time, rather at a specific time. In the Hebrew text the word מועד (an appointed time) appears in verse 10. It is precisely during the year when no agricultural labor can be done that HaShem commands that the entire Torah is to be read to the people. Second, Moses reveals a specific place for this reading to occur, namely Jerusalem, the place which HaShem chose. The text states concerning Jerusalem that it is there that the people would appear before G-d. The point that is being emphasized is that there is an inferred intimacy with the L-rd. Finally, the text is even more detailed when it states not just any time during the year of Sh’mittah, but during the feast of Tabernacles. Why then? The answer is that the primary teaching of this festival is dependence upon HaShem. Hence, those who truly recognize their dependence upon HaShem will embrace the word of G-d in order to find intimacy with Him and His timing for their life.

All too often we want G-d to move according to our timing, meet us at the place we are and to respond to our words. Such attitudes are very common among believers today and are frequently taught, but the truth of the matter is that unless we respond to G-d according to His parameters, HaShem will be very silent and distant from us in the New Year of 5773.

Shabbat Shalom


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