Parshiyot Nitzavim-Vayeilech 5783: Final Day of Moshe’s Life

Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShavua, Nitzavim-Vayeilech is being sponsored by Benyamin and Tracy Skriloff of Ramat Beit Shemesh Lilui Nishmas Benyamin’s Mother, Chana bat Benyamin. To the Skriloff family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses and good wishes

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring (or as the case may be, co-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.

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
skype: mark.burt3

Parshiyot Nitzavim-Vayeilech 5783: Final Day of Moshe’s Life

by Moshe Burt

This author has written in the past of posukim in one Parshat which would seem to mirror or correlate with posukim, or with the overriding theme of another Parshat. In our twin Parshiyot, this author views the correlation of the posukim of both Parshiyot in the context of this narration of Moshe’s last day of life.

Our Parsha Nitzavim opens with Moshe Rabbeinu gathering together and every member of Am Yisrael, from the most exalted, to the lowliest, covering all ages and addressing them on the final day of his life;

“Atem Nitzavim HaYom… You are standing today, all of you, before Hashem, your G’d [Keilokeichem] …. So that you pass into the Covenant of Hashem, your G’d [Keilokecha] and into His oath which Hashem, your G’d [Keilokecha] contracts with you today, in order to establish you today as a people to Him and that He be to you a G’d, as He spoke to you and as He swore to your fathers, to Avraham, to Yitzchak and to Yaakov. And not with you alone do I contract this covenant and oath, but with whoever is here, standing with us today before Hashem, our G’d [Keilokeinu] and with whoever is not here with us today.” (as rendered to English by Rabbi Shmuel Goldin in his sefer “Unlocking The Torah Text,” page 307, Sefer Devarim, Perek 29, posukm 9-15)

Moshe speaks to them about their enduring “responsibility for one another [in every generation], under which every Jew is obligated to help others observe the Torah and to restrain them from violating it.” (Citing Artscroll Stone Chumash commentary, page 1086) This is why Moshe began by enumerating all the different strata of people who stood before him and why he said that “Hashem would not hold them responsible for sins that had been done secretly, but that they would be liable for transgressions committed openly.” (Cited from the Artscroll Stone Chumash, Sefer Devarim, Perek 29, posuk 28, page 1086, citing Or HaChaim)

The Artscroll Stone Chumash explains (pages 1086-1087) ;

This is essential to the world view of the Jew, for it explains why one may not be apathetic to the shortcomings of others and why public desecrations of the Torah are of concern to every Jew…

Midrashically, when the people heard the frightening litany of ninety-eight curses in the Admonition [Referring to Sefer Devarim, Perek 28], they turned colors with fright at what seemed to be a hopeless future. Moshe comforted them, saying that despite all of the sins of the past, they were still standing… before Hashem. Just as he had not discarded them before, so He would maintain them in the future. Fear of the Admonition would prevent them from sinning. And if they did sin, the punishments would bring them atonement, not destruction. (The Artscroll Stone Chumash citing Rashi)

This author now excerpts from Rabbi Shmuel Goldin’s Parsha Summary of our twin Parshiyot in his sefer “Unlocking The Torah Text,” Sefer Devarim (page 305) ;

Turning his attention towards the distant future, Moshe speaks of the nation’s eventual repentance after experiencing periods of “blessing” and “curse.” The time will come, he predicts, when “you will return unto Hashem, your G’d and listen to His Voice… with all of your heart and all of your soul.” As a result, he [Moshe] promises, Hashem will ultimately gather the people from the lands of their dispersion and return them to the land of their forefathers.

…Moshe encourages the people towards observance of the law, emphasizing that the Mitzvot are not “distant” but accessible to all. (Rabbi Goldin citing Sefer Devarim, Perek 30, posukim 11-14) Moshe…. adjures [verb: to entreat or request earnestly or solemnly] them to “choose life” by obeying Hashem’s will.

After Moshe’s speech to Am Yisrael collectively, the Artscroll Stone Chumash explains (page 1094) ;

Moshe knew that this was the last day of his life, because, as the Zohar teaches, the most holy and righteous people are sensitive to spirituality, and are able to tell when the soul begins to ebb away from the body. (Artscroll Stone Chumash citing Or HaChaim)

Rabbi Shmuel Goldin relates Moshe’s final hours in his sefer “Unlocking The Torah Text,” Sefer Devarim, pages 305-306) ;

Moshe walks from Shevet to Shevet in order to inform the people that he has reached the end of his life and to bid them farewell. He encourages the nation with the assurance that Hashem will successfully bring them into the Land [to Eretz Yisrael] under Yehoshua’s leadership and publicly encourages Yehoshua to be strong and courageous…

After transmitting a written record of the Torah to the Kohanim, Moshe commands the nation regarding the Mitzvah of Hakhel, the public reading from the Torah once every seven years on the festival of Succot [when all of Am Yisrael would come to appear before Hashem and where selected portions of the Torah regarding Shabbos, the Shema and posukim concluding in Parshat Ki Tavo are read by the reigning King before the entire nation].

…Every effort must be made to ensure that the Torah will remain an “open book,” a text that will be reproduced, studied, analyzed and applied.

Hashem chose the Mitzvot of Hakhel and Ketivat Sefer Torah as the last two commandments to be delivered by Moshe to Am Yisrael… specifically… to root the Torah text in the hearts and minds of the nation. (These last two paragraphs are cited, ibid, page 347)

Hashem appears to Moshe and Yehoshua in a pillar of cloud at entrance to the Mishkan and informs them that the nation is destined to grievously sin and be severely punished. He commands Moshe to write Shirat Ha’azinu, the song recorded in… Parshat Ha’azinu [this year, read on the Shabbos between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur] as a timeless testimony to the nation that their fate will be determined by their loyalty to Hashem’s law.

Rabbi Goldin concludes (ibid, page 349) ;

Recognize the personal obligation that each of us bears for the continuity of Judaism’s thought and idea… The flavor of your personal observance, the contributions you make to Judaism’s thought, the teachings you share with your children will all enter the flow of your nation’s journey and will help shape your people’s character. Each of you is cherished and each of you can make a unique contribution to the whole.

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, that the thrice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes and the oft-destroyed Yeshiva buildings in Homesh be rebuilt, all at total government expense; due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. Baruch Hashem that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard is now in his third year at home in Eretz Yisrael and has embarked on a new chapter in his life. May Esther Yocheved bat Yechiel Avraham have an aliyah in Shemayim and may her spirit and memory continue to lift Jonathan to at least 120 years. May 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 nine 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. And may we soon and finally see the total end to the Communist Chinese corona virus pandemic and all like viruses. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nei 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!
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.