• Daily Aliya for Vaetchanan, Chamishi (5th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Moshe describes the fright which gripped the nation following the revelation on Sinai. The leaders of the tribes approached Moshe and pleaded that he be the intermediary to transmit G-d’s words to them, and G‑d agreed.

    Twice in this Aliya it mentions the Mitzvah (singular commandment), statutes and ordinances (plural) that Moshe will convey to the people, rather than them hearing it from G-d Himself (Passuk 5:28 and 6:1). The discrepancy between singular and plural references can be explained by Passuk 5:25, which also contains anomalies. Verse 25 says that G-d heard the sound of the words of the people when they asked Moshe to act as intermediary between them and G-d, and G-d was pleased. Why the strange phrasing of “sound of the words”? Why the discrepancy in noun grammar?

    I believe one way to understand this is that G-d heard in the Jews’ voice that they really wanted to hear the Torah and all its commandments, but truly felt they couldn’t hear it directly from G-d. Rather than give up, the found a solution by having Moshe as the conduit. This now creates an extra layer of education and instruction that needs to exist in order to learn the many ordinances and statutes of the Torah. This new layer is the one Mitzvah added: the commandment to learn and teach, which incidentally is what Lelamed.com is based on, and what our lives should be filled with.

  • Dvar for Vaetchanan (Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11)

    The most famous sentence in the Torah is found in this week’s Torah portion, Va’etchanan: “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.” (Deuteronomy 6:4) The last letter (Ayin) of the Hebrew word for “Hear” (Shema) is written large, as is the last letter (Daled)of the Hebrew word for “One” (Echad). What’s the significance of these deviations?

    Rabbi Avi Weiss proposes a unique explanation: Maybe the letters are large to teach us that the smallest of deviations could pervert the meaning of a text. For example, if one would read the Shema as having an Aleph as its last letter (after all the Aleph and Ayin are both silent letters), the word Shema would mean “perhaps” (sheh-mah). This would change a firm declaration of belief into an expression of doubt! And if the Daled would be mistaken for a Reish (after all, there is only a slight difference in the writing of a Daled and Reish), the word echad (One) would be read acher (other). This would change belief in One God into a belief in two gods!

    As we move towards Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, all of us ought be careful with every word, every gesture and every action. Because in life, the smallest differences makes all the difference in the world.

  • Daily Aliya for Vaetchanan, Revii (4th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Moshe repeats the Ten Commandments, reminding the Israelites that the Sinai covenant was not limited to those who were physically present at Mount Sinai.

    The very first of the ten commandments is very unique. It doesn’t just say “I am the Lord your G-d”, which would have been sufficient. In case we forget, it continues “… who took you out of Eqypt…”, and as if that wasn’t enough, “…out of the house of slavery”. It’s pretty obvious that knowing G-d also requires appreciating the correct context with which to know Him, and I think the following two phrases offers two different depths of appreciation: On a basic level, G-d physically took us out of Egypt, performing many miracles in the process, and for that we are forever indebted to Him. But we were also in a situation where we were slaves to the slave-masters, who were slaves to their superiors, who worked for theirs, on their way up the hierarchical ladder to Pharaoh. We weren’t just slaves, we were slaves in a house of slaves, drowned in meaning and purpose diluted at every mired level of slavery. G-d took us from that situation to one where we interact directly with G-d himself, where meaning and purpose is clear, pure and undiluted, and part of the first commandment is for us to understand and appreciate G-d on all these levels.

  • Daily Aliya for Vaetchanan, Shlishi (3rd Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Moshe designates three cities of refuge on the eastern side of the Jordan River. These cities provided refuge for an individual who inadvertently murdered another.

    The Gemara explains that although the cities wouldn’t become active refuge havens until the Jews settled in Israel, Moshe saw this as an opportunity to do something positive and would not pass up the chance. It’s not just that he seized the opportunity to perform a Mitzvah (positive commandment), he took this opportunity to prepare to do a Mitzvah! In modern day, that would be the equivalent of us waking up earlier than normal to daven (pray), or going out of our way so we can be asked to do Chessed (a kind act). It’s looking for circumstances where opportunities might exist.

  • Daily Aliya for Vaetchanan, Sheni (2nd Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Moshe implores the Israelites to treasure the Torah, praising its wisdom, its righteous and just precepts, and the closeness to G‑d it affords. He admonishes them to never forget the day when G‑d gave them the Torah, and vividly describes that awesome event, enjoining them to recount that day’s events to their children and grandchildren. He then focuses on the divine revelation, reminding them that G‑d did not appear as any image or form. Worshiping graven images, Moshe warns, will result in national exile and decimation. But even when exiled, G‑d will not forsake His people, and eventually they will repent and return to G‑d. This section concludes with Moshe extolling the Israelites’ uniqueness: the only nation personally delivered by G‑d from bondage, and the only people to whom G‑d revealed Himself.

    This Aliya is loaded with Pessukim (verses) that we use regularly, as well as anecdotes to overcoming temptations. The recipe for doing the right thing is: 1) hearing, 2) seeing, and 3) fearing. As Passuk 10 says, G-d gathered everyone so He can tell us the commandments, where we actually see the words, and the goal is for us to fear Him so that we continue to follow those words. The reason why only hearing or seeing doesn’t work is explained: If we only used our sight to discern what’s right, we could erroneously see the sun or moon and determine that they are the ones providing for our needs. If we only used our hearing we could similarly falter when hearing something different. It’s only a combination of these, along with fear, that will protect us from stumbling in the future. Seeing and hearing the rules are important to know what’s right, and fearing consequences help us protect those rules from potentially being broken. This important lesson is adaptable to many aspects of life, both personal and family.

  • Daily Aliya for Vaetchanan, Rishon (1st Aliya)

    General Overview: In this week’s Torah reading, Va’etchanan, Moshe continues his attempt to impress upon the Israelites the importance of following G‑d’s commandments, the rewards which will result from obeying G‑d’s words, and the punishments they will incur if they neglect to do so. Moshe recounts the story of the giving of Torah at Mount Sinai, and repeats the Ten Commandments. Moshe designates cities of refuge. This portion also contains the Shema.

    Aliya Summary: Moshe recounts how he pleaded with G‑d to allow him entry into Israel. G‑d refused this request, but instructed Moshe to climb a mountain from where he would see the Promised Land. Moshe enjoins the people to follow G‑d’s law, and never to add to or detract from it. Moshe uses the Baal Peor incident to demonstrate that those who remained faithful to G‑d survived and thrived.

Back to top