Click HERE to access our Parashah Summary Archive with week-by-week summaries and study questions
Vayeilech (Shabbat Shuva)~ 5772 ~ וילך
On this, the last day of his life, Moshe goes from tent to tent throughout the camp, bidding farewell to his beloved people, encouraging them to keep the faith. Moshe tells them that whether he is among them or not, Hashem is with them, and will vanquish their enemies. Then he summons Yehoshua, and in front of all the people, exhorts him to be strong and courageous as the leader of the Jewish People. In this manner, he strengthens Yehoshua’s status as the new leader.
Moshe teaches them the mitzvah of Hakhel: every seven years, on the first day of the intermediate days of Sukkot, the entire nation, including small children, is to gather together at the Temple to hear the King read from the Book of Devarim. The sections that he reads deal with faithfulness to Hashem, the covenant, and reward and punishment. Hashem tells Moshe that his end is near, and he should therefore summon Yehoshua to stand with him in the Mishkan, where Hashem will teach Yehoshua.
Hashem then tells Moshe and Yehoshua that after entering the Land, the people will be unfaithful to Him, and begin to worship other gods. Hashem will then completely hide his face, so that it will seem that the Jewish People are at the mercy of fate, and that they will be hunted by all. Hashem instructs Moshe and Yehoshua to write down a song – Ha’azinu – which will serve as a witness against the Jewish People when they sin. Moshe records the song in writing and teaches it to Bnei Yisrael. Moshe completes his transcription of the Torah, and instructs the Levi’im to place it to the side of the Aron (Holy Ark), so that no one will ever write a new Torah Scroll that is different from the original – for there will always be a reference copy.
MAFTIR Deuteronomy 31:28 – 30 ~ page 890
HAFTARAH Hoshea 14:2-10, Micah 7:18-20, Joel 2:15-27 ~ page 891
“Shuva Yisrael Ad Hashem” – the opening words of the Haftarah give this Shabbat its name. “Shabbat Shuvah” means “Return to G-d.” These verses emphasize the power of prayer in the Teshuva process. The command to repent is accompanied by wonderful promises of redemption and restoration of the former glory of Israel. The passage from Joel gives us a Shofar connection to Teshuva. Likewise, G-d assures us that He is among us – even before our Teshuva— and that He will never shame His people. Although the Haftarah is not directly linked to the content of the Torah portion, they do have some points in common: they both speak of rain in a figurative, spiritual sense and the Haftarah mentions its more literal meaning in connection with prosperity. This fits with what was mentioned above about the last pasuk in Hoshea.
Parashah & Holiday Study Questions
1. Is it a good or bad omen when a person dies on his birthday (v.2)?
2. Why does v. 6 change from the plural to the singular?
3. Doesn’t the Hertz commentary of v. 9 contradict the text?
4. What types of medicines are permitted or forbidden on Yom Kippur?
5. Who decides if a person can eat or drink on Yom Kippur? If forbidden to fast, what rules are there about eating and drinking?