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Parashah Vayeilech "And went"

Torah: Devarim (Deuteronomy) 31:1 — 31:30
Shabbat Shuvah - The Shabbat of Return
Haftarah: Hosea 14:2-10; Joel 2:11-27; Micah 7:18-20


The Shabbat between Rosh haShanah and Yom Kippur is called Shabbat Shuvah - The Shabbat of Return, named as such from the first word of the Haftarah:

“Yisrael ad Yehovah Eloheicha - Return, o Israel, to Yehovah your God - for you have stumbled in your iniquity. Take with you words and return to Yehovah; say to Him: ‘Forgive all our iniquity and receive us graciously; and let us offer like bulls the words of our lips.’" Hosea 14:2,3 (1,2)

Therefore, Shuvah means to return to God and to live a life for Him. As we approach Yom Kippur, The Day of Atonement, we need to understand the true meaning of this word, shuvah. But why the ancient Israelites needed to return to God, to repent? Why do we need to repent? In this Parashah Moshe is handing the leadership over to Yehoshua at the guidance of God who will meet both of them in the Tent of Meeting. What an awesome and in the same time frightening site, the Lord Yehovah appearing as a pillar of cloud. But Yehovah does not deliver good news:

“And Yehovah said to Moshe, ‘Behold, you shall sleep with your fathers; and this people will rise up, and play the prostitute after the strange gods of the land, where they go to be among them, and will forsake Me, and break My covenant which I have made with them.’” Devarim (Deuteronomy) 31:16

How did Moshe feel at that moment when he heard the words, Moshe you will die and the people will forsake Me? What was Yehoshua thinking at that moment? How is he going to lead these rebellious people? But the Lord knows our hearts and minds, so He tells Yehoshua:

“Be strong - Chazak - and of good courage; for you shall bring the children of Yisra'el into the land which I swore to them: and I will be with you.“ Devarim (Deuteronomy) 31:23

God will not leave Yehoshua by himself, He will be with him and guide him as He did with Moshe. But why would God warn Israelites to heed His commandments when He knew that they would not do so? Again, this is the dichotomy of this present world, God is outside of our time constraints and He knows the future and yet we have freedom to choose what to do in this life, to obey God or not. If we disobey, God will hide His face from us. “I will surely hide My face in that day for all the evil which they shall have worked, in that they are turned to other gods.

Many people, when disaster strikes them, ask, Where is God? Why did He not protect me from this calamity? God is hiding His face from our collective iniquities. But the ones who obey God, observe His commandments and follow His ethics, even if calamity strikes have the assurance that everything that happens to them is in His hands because: “It shall happen that, before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.” Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 65:24

God is eager and more than ready for us to make teshuvah, to return to Him. He predestined Yeshua to die for our sins so that the ones who believe in Him can have the assurance of an eternal life spent in His presence being sealed with the promise of the Ruach haKodesh, the Holy Spirit:

...even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and without blemish before Him in love; having predestined us for adoption as sons through Yeshua the Messiah to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His desire... in whom we have our redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, in whom you also, having heard the word of the truth, the Good News of your salvation... in whom, having also believed, you were sealed with the Ruach haKodesh of promise...” Ephesians 1:4-13

But why the Israelites would forsake God? He freed them from the Egyptian bondage, He guided them in the wilderness during the day with the pillar of cloud and during the night with the pillar of fire, He fed them with the manna from heaven, the food of angels, and gave them water for their thirst, and, on top of that: “I led you forty years in the wilderness; your clothes and the sandals on your feet did not wear out.” Devarim (Deuteronomy) 29:5

Having seen all these miracles in all those forty years and having received guidance on how to deal with all the issues in their lives through the Torah instructions, how would it be possible for them to forsake God? “For when I shall have brought them into the land which I swore to their fathers, flowing with milk and honey, and they shall have eaten and filled themselves, and grown fat; then will they turn to other gods, and serve them, and despise Me.” Devarim (Deuteronomy) 31:20

Torah does not mince words, they have grown fat in a land of plenty. Look around the world and see where is faith the strongest? In the beginning of the 20th century, Europe was the center of Bible revival. The printing press could not keep up with the demand for Christian literature and the hunger for the word of God, but what happened? They grew fat and then the tsunami of evangelism had moved further west to the New World, but then we grew fat, and the wave of evangelism moved again westerly to China and Korea (Seoul, South Korea has largest church attendance in the world, 200,000 weekly) and now it arrived from where it all started, the Middle East where the persecution is greatest. And yet, there is a revival in Israel, even though there is still opposition, one can openly talk about Yeshua. Israeli’s hearts are being softened up and prepared for acceptance of Messiah through the work of many Messianic believers, so, yes, they need to repent and make teshuvah, return to their God. But, how are you doing with your walk with God? These ten days between Rosh haShanah and Yom Kippur are days appropriate for introspection. How are you doing with the talents that Gad gave you? Do you need God’s gentle calling, Shuvah My beloved?

Your eternal life is secure in His loving hands but maybe there is an area from this plentiful and comfortable world that we live in that you need to turn away from and turn to God. Confess it to the Lord and He will open His arms to receive you. "’Yet even now,’ says Yehovah, ‘turn to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning.’ Tear your heart, and not your garments, and turn to Yehovah, your God; for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abundant in lovingkindness, and relents from sending calamity. Who knows? He may turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind Him...’“ Joel 2:13,14

L'Shanah Tovah Tikatevu! May you be inscribed for a good and blessed New Year!

Shabbat Shalom!


The Rabbinic tradition states that we have lost the knowledge of pronouncing the tetragrammaton name of God, YHVH, and that when Moshiah will come He will tell us how to pronounce it. In the meantime, most of the time, it is read as HaShem, the Name. Well, in my commentaries I want to stress the fact that the Moshiah already came, therefore, based on the opinion of some Hebrew scholars, I am transliterating YHVH as Yehovah.

 

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