Parshios Netzavim & Vayeilech
This is the final Shabat of the year 5766. It has been a difficult year
for the Jewish people, for the State of Israel and for me personally. This
year of war, death, scandal, disappointment, and an overwhelming feeling
of uncertainty - which is really the natural human state of being - leaves
us somewhat bewildered and downcast. We pray that the new year that now
comes upon us will be one of comfort and healing, of good tidings and new
and fruitful beginnings, with peace and confidence in our future.
On his final day, Moshe gathers all of Israel to bid them goodbye. He
speaks not only to those who stand before him in life but also to those
who are no longer here but whose memory and influence are still present
amongst the living. He also speaks to the generations of Israel still
unborn who are yet to come and shoulder the responsibilities and duties of
Jewish achievement and survival. He repeats the unbending and inexorable
terms of the covenant between God and Israel. But he promises them that in
the end all will be right somehow and that the blessings of God’s covenant
with us will descend upon us to comfort and refresh us.
There probably cannot be any more fitting introduction to our
supplications and prayers for the new year than these words of Moshe’s
that appear in this week’s parsha. The parsha places the events of our
life into a Godly perspective so that even our tragedies and
disappointments take on meaning and purpose. God’s covenant with us as
individuals and as a people is still operative. We really cannot ask for
Moshe goes to his death with faith but also with regret. He is not
privileged to enter the Land of Israel, being denied his life’s dream and
his children will not succeed him in the leadership of the Jewish people.
As is the case with human beings, even Moshe, no one passes away having
accomplished all that was desired. Yet Moshe dies peacefully, with God’s
kiss, so to speak, on his face, knowing that the Torah that he taught
Israel will guarantee its survival as a people and will be a human force
for all eternity. He is comforted in the knowledge that all of his efforts
and travails, all of his disappointments and frustrations will, somehow,
not be for naught.
The Torah will remain within the Jewish people and will eventually restore
them to their land and their faith. No matter how distant they may stray
from their faith and mission, the Torah will not abandon them. God will
employ many different means to keep the covenant effective between Him and
Israel. Moshe can therefore say confidently “It [the Torah] is not an
empty thing as far as you are concerned but rather it is within your
mouths and hearts to fulfill its demands and promises.” It is this sense
of unending continuity that is the greatest comfort to Moshe on his
departure from this earth. It should also be the greatest source of
comfort and hope for us as we depart from this year and enter into better
and more blessed times.
Rabbi Berel Wein
Rabbi Berel Wein - Jewish historian, author and international lecturer offers a complete selection of CDs, audio tapes, video tapes, DVDs, and books on Jewish history at www.rabbiwein.com
Text Copyright © 2006 by Rabbi Berel Wein and Torah.org
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