Parashat Vayeilekh – 5782

September 29, 2022

Click HERE for an audio recording of this D’var Torah A D’var Torah for Parashat Vayeilekh By Rabbi Matthew Goldstone This past week thousands of Jews gathered in person and online to celebrate Rosh Hashanah. We now find ourselves in the midst of עשרת ימי תשובה, the 10 days of repentance leading up to Yom Kippur. Yet, even during this week between the Yamim Noraim we continue with our regular Torah reading cycle. This week of Shabbat Shuvah we read the short parashah of Vayeilekh in which Moses announces to the Israelites that he has reached 120 years of age and will no longer lead the Israelites forward. At this time in our Jewish calendar of sacred gatherings, I would like to explore three instances in our parashah in which all of the Israelites gather together. At the very outset of the portion, Moses speaks to “all of Israel” and encourages them to be strong and resolute (חזקו ואמצו; Deut. 31:6). For this moment...

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Parashat Vayeilekh 5782

September 10, 2021

Click HERE for an audio recording of this D’var Torah A D’var Torah for Parashat Vayeilekh By Rabbi Matthew Goldstone Shanah tovah! As we transition into a new Jewish year we also near the completion of our annual reading of the Torah and prepare to begin the cycle again. This week, at the beginning of parashat Vayeilekh, Moses speaks briefly to the Israelites before turning his attention to Joshua. With Joshua poised to take the helm, Moses offers him a few words of wisdom before he leads the people into the promised land. I would suggest that the beginning of our parasha not only offers sagacious advice for Joshua and the Israelites, but also provides important guidance and reminders for contemporary Jewish leaders. I would like to highlight three lessons that emerge as we look closely at the beginning of Deuteronomy 31. First, the very name of our parasha evokes...

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Parashat Nitzavim – Vayeilekh 5780

September 11, 2020

Tomorrow’s Giants On Our Shoulders A D’var Torah for Parashat Nitzavim-Vayeilekh By Rabbi David Markus We stand on the shoulders of giants. Much that we have, much that we are becoming, are harvests of trees our ancestors planted. We inherit their shalshelet – their spiritual and practical causation both wise and unwise, healthy and not – along with what they received from their ancestry. Legacy courses through us as history’s heartbeat. We and how we live our lives are the next beat, the eternal river’s next bend on its endless flow. So of course, we stand on yesterday’s shoulders. But how about tomorrow’s giants on our shoulders? If we really felt the future on our shoulders, would we live differently? Torah’s Nitzavim-Vayeilekh asks that question directly. The Covenant is made with “everyone standing here today,” and also “everyone not standing here today” (Deut. 29:13-14). “Everyone not standing here today” are...

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Parashat Vayeilekh 5780

October 3, 2019

A D’var Torah for Parashat Vayeilekh By Rabbi David Markus Rosh Hashanah brings a spiritual lag between the year’s reboot and Torah’s reboot, like our northern latitude’s seasonal lag between sun angle and temperature. This spiritual lag raises two questions. First, shouldn’t Rosh Hashanah, which recalls the Yom Harat Olam (Creation’s birthday) of Genesis 1, therefore also be Simhat Torah to reboot the Torah cycle at the same time? Second, precisely because Simhat Torah lags behind by over three weeks, what spiritual meaning to make of this lag and this week’s Torah portion (Vayeilekh) that begins to fill it? Talmud’s explanation for the lag is that Rosh Hashanah should follow only after we read Torah’s “curses” of consequence for disobedience (Megillah 31b). That’s Deuteronomic theology in a nutshell: spiritually speaking, we get what we deserve and we deserve what we get. To me, Talmud’s premise doesn’t hold. Even if we...

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Parashat Nitzavim-VaYelekh

September 22, 2011

By Rabbi Robert Freedman Two phrases vie for the honor of being the most important in the Torah, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” and “Humanity was made in the divine image.” Humbly I’d like to nominate another for one of the top ten. The verse is, “For the thing is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart to do it” (Deuteronomy 30:14). No other verse in Torah offers as strong reassuring certainty that we need not be confused or despairing about where to find life’s instruction manual. At one time Moses protested that he was not a man of words, that for him speech was difficult and his lips were not fluent. But forty years later he preached the words of Deuteronomy. Throughout a full day he held forth, concluding by saying that the thing, the commandment, was not too far away or too difficult, “rather...

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