Vayelekh 5781 – A Great Love Story

By: James Rosenberg

The story of the Jewish people, especially after the second Temple, is about one of the great love affairs of all time, the love of a people for specific books, the books being the 5 Books of Moses. Much of the rabbinic literature, especially the tractate, Ethics of the Fathers, reads like an extended poem in praise of Torah and a life of learning. The Torah was, said the Rabbis, the architecture of creation, written in letters of black fire on white fire, representing nothing less than the single extended name of God. For Rabbi Akiva, the Torah represents the very air Jews breathe.

The Torah is life itself!

We have reached the final Shabbat of 5781, and, fittingly, our second Sedra of Vayelech contains the last of the 613 Mitzvot in the Torah:
“And now, write for your selves this song,
and teach it to the Children of Israel.”

Rambam interprets this to mean that each person must write for himself a sefer Torah. Today, however, we accomplish this by participating in the dedication of a new Torah;

the larger principal and intent of the pasuk remains:
each one of us should make the Torahour own.”

In other words, each of us should not only follow the specific dictates of Hashem to us through Torah and its commandments, but we should also internalize its many messages. Perhaps we will connect to the chesed of Avraham, the self-sacrifice of Yitzchak or Rachel, or the unshakeable faith of Sara. Perhaps we will become pursuers of peace like Ahron haKohen, or practice Ahavat Yisrael like Moshe, who went to visit the Jewish people before he died.

The Torah has so many diverse lessons to teach; ideal such as having courage during times of adversity, or being responsible for one’s actions, or developing a sense of discipline, OR passing on our tradition to the next generation. If we follow any of these, we indeed “own” the Torah.

Moreover, we must teach this Torah to fellow Jews. It is not enough to “keep the faith;” we must share it with others!

Two more lessons emerge from this short pasuk: The Torah should be “a song,” something that brings joy, that gets into our soul, and that we sing almost instinctively.

Kinda like the songs that we still sing frm the 60s!!!

Our Sages tell the story of a King who hired three contractors to build him a palace. He gave them each a million gold pieces & said, “Spare no expense!” The first builder decided to pocket most of the money and built a substandard edifice with cheap materials. The second improved a bit on that, but still took many short cuts. The third contractor, however, decided to use all the funds that had been given to him, and created the most superb and perfect palace he could.

With the buildings all completed, the King came to inspect, and decreed: “These palaces are for you; you will now live in them for the rest of your lives!”


The point of this is…

The King of Kings gives us the Torah and
the Judaism that we live by and study.
Let us work hard, with all the means at our disposal,
to construct the very best palace we can,
and to joyously sing the sweet song of Torah.

Shanah Tovah,  may you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.