Teaching For Shabbat of September 12th, 2020
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This week is a double Torah Parashot:
Netzavim (נִצָּבִים) — Hebrew for “ones standing,” the second word in the parashah) is the 51st weekly Torah portion (פָּרָשָׁה, parashah) in the annual cycle of Torah readings and the eighth in the Book of Deuteronomy. It constitutes Deuteronomy 29:9–30:20
Vayelech (וַיֵּלֶךְ) — Hebrew for “then he went out”, the first word in the parashah) is the 52nd weekly Torah portion (פָּרָשָׁה, parashah) and the ninth in the Book of Deuteronomy. It covers Deuteronomy 31:1–30 and with just 30 verses, it has the fewest verses of any parashah, although not the fewest words or letters. (Parashah V’Zot HaBerachah has fewer letters and words.)
Torah Parashah Nitzavim-Vayelech Summary
The Parshah of Nitzavim includes some of the most fundamental principles of the Jewish faith:
The unity of Israel: “You stand today, all of you, before the Lord your God: your heads, your tribes, your elders, your officers, and every Israelite man; your young ones, your wives, the stranger in your gate; from your wood-hewer to your water-drawer.”
The future redemption: Moses warns of the exile and desolation of the Land that will result if Israel abandons God’s laws, but then he prophesies that in the end, “You will return to the Lord your God . . . If your outcasts shall be at the ends of the heavens, from there will the Lord your God gather you . . . and bring you into the Land which your fathers have possessed.”
The practicality of Torah: “For the mitzvah which I command you this day, it is not beyond you, nor is it remote from you. It is not in heaven . . . It is not across the sea . . . Rather, it is very close to you, in your mouth, in your heart, that you may do it.”
Freedom of choice: “I have set before you life and goodness, and death and evil: in that I command you this day to love God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments . . . Life and death I have set before you, blessing and curse. And you shall choose life.”
The Parshah of Vayelech (“and he went”) recounts the events of Moses’ last day of earthly life. “I am one hundred and twenty years old today,” he says to the people, “and I can no longer go forth and come in.” He transfers the leadership to Joshua, and writes (or concludes writing) the Torah in a scroll which he entrusts to the Levites for safekeeping in the Ark of the Covenant.
The mitzvah of Hakhel (“gather”) is given: every seven years, during the festival of Sukkot of the first year of the shemittah cycle, the entire people of Israel—men, women and children—should gather at the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, where the king should read to them from the Torah.
Vayelech concludes with the prediction that the people of Israel will turn away from their covenant with God, causing Him to hide His face from them, but also with the promise that the words of the Torah “shall not be forgotten out of the mouths of their descendants.”
Torah for your Children…
For a simple cartoon summary of the Torah parashah for your children we recommend the following video below created by G-dcast:
This week’s haftorah is the seventh and final installment of a series of seven “Haftarot of Consolation.” These seven haftarotcommence on the Shabbat following Tisha b’Av and continue until Rosh Hashanah.
The prophet begins on a high note, describing the great joy that we will experience with the Final Redemption, comparing it to the joy of a newly married couple.
Isaiah than declares his refusal to passively await the Redemption: “For Zion’s sake I will not remain silent, and for Jerusalem‘s sake I will not be still, until her righteousness emerges like shining light…” He implores the stones of Jerusalem not to be silent, day or night, until God restores Jerusalem and establishes it in glory.
The haftorah then recounts God’s oath to eventually redeem Zion, when the Jews will praise God in Jerusalem. The haftorah also contains a description of the punishment God will mete out to Edomand the enemies of Israel.
Isaiah concludes with the famous statement:
“In all [Israel’s] afflictions, He, too, is afflicted, and the angel of His presence redeemed them…”
Like a loving father who shares the pain of his child, God, too, shares the pain of His people, and awaits the redemption along with them.
Haftarah Vayelech (for Shabbat Shuva)
The Shabbat between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is known as Shabbat Shuva or “Shabbat of Return (Repentance).” The name is a reference to the opening words of the week’s haftorah, “Shuva Israel — Return O Israel.” This haftorah is read in honor of the Ten Days of Repentance, the days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
The prophet Hosea exhorts the Jewish people to “Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God,” encouraging them to repent sincerely and ask for God’s forgiveness. Hosea urges the Jews to put their trust in God, not in Assyria, powerful horses or idols. At that point, G‑d promises to remove His anger from Israel, “I will be like dew to Israel, they shall blossom like a rose.” The prophet then goes on to foretell the return of the exiles and the cessation of idol-worship amongst the people.
The haftorah concludes with a brief portion from the Book of Micah, which describes God’s kindness in forgiving the sins of His people. “He does not maintain His anger forever, for He is a lover of kindness. He will have mercy on us, He will grasp our iniquities and cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.” Micah concludes with an enjoinder to God to remember the pacts He made with the Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
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Torah Parashah teaching with video and audio and illustrations by Rabbi Isaac. © 2020 Assembly of Called-Out Believers. Use by Permission.