Vayelekh

Special Selection: Shabbat Shuvah
Hosea 14.2-10, Micah 7.18-20 or Hosea 14.2-10, Joel 2.15-27

On the last day of Moshe’s life on earth he made three important statements. Moshe realized that he would pass away that day. And after repeating, adding, explaining the Torah commandments and singing and teaching the song we will read about in parashat Haazinu he would bless the Children of Israel and afterwards climb Mount Nebo. We will read about it in parashat Vezot Haberachah, the last parasha of the Torah. Moshe would oversee the Promised Land and then die in Moaw. The Lord Himself would bury Moshe. Before these last events he wanted to express three final issues which were of importance. The first statement we find in Devarim/Deuteronomy 31:6, “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid and do not be broken before them (the enemy). For Hashem your G-d, it is He who goes before you. He will not release you nor will he forsake you.”

Israel needed to hear this, because enemies would come time and time again. Angry people from outside and bitter family from within. To repeat these words and to know that the Lord will always be on your side is so heart warming, loving and encouraging. Israel need it and still needs it. Whatever the resistance is we encounter from people outside our family and from family members who question our integrity and who pay no or little respect and who express harsh criticism, what we need is the courage to not bow down out of fear of more criticism. We owe it to ourselves and to the Lord who believes in us that we protect our bodies and souls from harm. Without becoming aggressive we need to become assertive in letting people know till how far they can go. Never bow for the spirits and the bitterness others bow for and act out of.

The second statement is in 31:12, “Gather together the people – the men, the women, and the small children, and your stranger who is in your cities – so that they will hear and so that they will learn, and they shall fear Hashem your G-d, and be careful to perform all the words of this Torah.” Not only the Children of Israel, which is the Jewish people, were and are to adhere to Torah, also the “stranger”, the ger toshav, is to participate in the act of hakhel, of gathering together in order to listen to Torah. And to “be careful to perform all the words of this Torah.” This is exactly what Ja’akov (James) the leader of the Messianic Jewish congregation in Jerusalem taught his colleagues, about which we read in Acts 15:21. The gerim, the soul mates of Israel are to gather together with the Jewish people in the synagogues on Shabbat, in order to learn and to do what Torah (called “Moses”) says each Shabbat.

The third statement we find in 31:26, “Take this Book of the Torah and place it at the side of the Ark of the Covenant of Hashem your G-d, and it shall be there for you as a witness.” Israel needs Torah. That is because the G-d of Israel says so. Torah is a witness to our behavior and a witness to the fact that G-d loves us so much that His will is with us continually. This G-d will not forsake us, us being Jews and soul mates. Let us do His will as expressed in Torah. Then the process of liberation, as it started from the deathly land of Egypt, is continuing for us as well.

Shabbat shalom,
Lion S. Erwteman, Rosh Kehilla of Beth Yeshua
Amsterdam, Holland