This week, our Parshat HaShevua Vayeilech is sponsored by Dr. Edo and Atara Lavi of Ramat Beit Shemesh and dedicated in honor of their son Yerachmiel Me’ir’s engagement to Chana Richter and in honor of all our dear friends in town. To the Lavi family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.
You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.
Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.
In years where Nitzavim and Vayeilech don’t constitute a double parsha, Vayeilech falls out on Shabbos Shuva. Such has been the case both last year and now. But how does our Parshat Vayeilech relate to the Asseret Y’mei Teshuvah (the ten days of Repentance between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur)?
Rabbi Shmuel Goldin, in his sefer “Unlocking The Torah Text,” Sefer Devarim (pages 328-329) provides a rendering to English of Perek 31, posukim 14-19 and commentary:
Moshe is about to die; the fulfillment of… [his] dreams will now rest with the nation. Hashem summons him for one final message… [which] is nothing less than devastating:
“Behold, you will lie with your fathers, and this nation will rise and sin after the foreign gods of the land into whose midst they will come; and they will forsake Me and annul the covenant that I have established with them.”
“And My anger will be kindled against them on that day and I will forsake them, and I will hide my face from them and they will be as prey, and many evils and troubles will come upon them. And they will say on that day: ‘Is it not because my G’d is not in my midst that these evils have come upon me?'”
“And I will certainly hide My face on that day, on account of all of the evil that they will have done, in that they turned to other gods.”
“And it will be, when many evils and distresses come upon them, then this song [Hashem referring to Ha’azinu] shall testify before them as a witness, for it shall not be forgotten from the mouth of their offspring…”
[If this author understands R’ Goldin correctly, there are those who may attribute] Ideas that are related to our text [to] an apparent coincidence of the calendar. The parshiot of Nitzavim, Vayeilech and Ha’azinu are read on the Shabbatot surrounding the sanctified days of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Succot. As a result of this convergence, Moshe’s last days serve as a backdrop to the holiest period of our calendar….. As is often the case in the experience of Jews, what seems coincidental is not. A connection can be drawn between the concepts critical to this holiday period and… Moshe’s final journey.
And so, although statues and other forms of physical avodah zora (idol worship) are virtually non-existent in our times, we can tangibly connect our Parshat Vayeilech with the Asseret Y’mei Teshuvah — a period of prayer, repentance for our aveirot [sins], and longing for forgiveness, both on personal and national levels.
Rav Goldin continues his commentary (ibid, pages 331-332):
Our annual struggle on the Yamim Noraim [is] to control the uncertainty of our lives through prayer and repentance….
No matter how hard we pray…, some of our prayers will be answered to our liking and others will not. No matter how hard we work on ourselves over [the period of] Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we will succeed in some of our newfound resolutions and we will fail in others.
One of the most critical lessons of the entire Yamim Noraim experience is that failure refines. Our greatest growth occurs when we “pick ourselves up” after a fall, when, in the face of challenge, we not only persevere but triumph. For this reason, Talmud informs us that with complete teshuvah, repentance and return, an individual’s past transgressions are transformed into Mitzvot. An individual who strives, fails, and then builds from that failure stands on a higher spiritual plane than an individual who never fails at all.
Rabbi Goldin concludes (ibid, pages 333):
Moshe… reassures the nation before his passing: Hashem will strike the appropriate balance in His relationship with you. He will never abandon you, but neither will He weaken you. He will give you the space you need to develop on your own, to succeed or fail through your own efforts. He will let you become the people you need to become.
We yearn for the time of the building of the Third and Permanent Beit HaMikdash, Torah-true governance with the Moshiach convening Hakhel, speedily in our days.
May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them and that the twice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes, at government expense; both due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. May our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem — as with the return in April, 2019, via Russia, of the remains of Zachariah Baumel, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of five years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and prevent Chas V’Challila the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!
Good Shabbos Shuva! May You, All of My Brothers, Sisters, be Sealed, for another Year of Life… Now and Always!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.