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[Dvar Torah] Vayelech

This Shabbat will be Shabbat Shuvah, the Shabbat between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, which is in the middle of the Ten days of Penitence (Aseret Yemei Teshuvah). This is the Shabbat when we read Parshat Vayelech. In this parshat we read about  the last days of Moshe's life and how he tells the people of Israel that he will not bring them into the Land of Israel, as written:

“[…] Today I am one hundred and twenty years old. I can no longer go or come, and the Lord said to me, "You shall not cross this Jordan [into the land of Israel]."  (Dvarim 31, 2) 

Before Moshe transfers leadership of the Jewish people to Joshua, he warns the people of Israel of what will happen in the future when they won't follow the path of the Torah. Not if they won’t follow the path, but when they won’t follow the path. G-d explains to Moshe that it is inevitable that the people of Israel will sin and G-d will “hide His face” from them, and that the consequences will not be pleasant. 

This begs the question - if we already know that things will go wrong in the future, why put any effort in in the first place, why not give up in advance?! After all, all is already known and determined. 

Well, the answer is that on the contrary - the Torah tells the people of Israel of their flawed future to encourage them. How so? It essentially shows that the Torah was given to the people - human beings - not angels. G-d does not expect perfection; failures and mistakes are part of life and we should not be disappointed and give up if they occur. Moshe’s message regarding future failure comes from a place of courage and strength. Its purpose is to say that despite some predicted obstacles, we must not fear nor despair. 

A person who knows that “falling down” is part of the process gets up, brushes off the dust on him, and continues running faster and stronger. What a wonderful message for us all in this time of Shabbat Shuva - falling after Rosh Hashanah, the Day of Judgment, and before Yom Kippur, the day of atonement. 

Shabbat Shalom & Shana Tova,

Tahel, Grade 11