• Dvar for Vayelech (Deuteronomy 31:1-31:30)

    Parshat Vayelech includes the commandment for every Jew to write a song for themselves (31:19), which Rashi says is referring the following Parsha, Haazinu. The sages derive from this rule the final of the 613 commandments that each Jew has to take part in the writing of a Torah scroll. Why would we be required to write our own song, and then be given the song to sing? Also, how is the requirement to write our own song the same as the requirement to take part in scribing our own Torah?

    If we apply the concept of this weekly Dvar Torah, we can easily understand the Torah’s final commandment: If we take any commandment in the Torah and personalize it, although its source is the Torah, its ownership is very personal. Songs, too, sound different when sung by different people. In fact, music becomes even more personal because it’s a more emotional medium. That’s exactly why the Torah chose music as the metaphor to teach us about personalizing the Torah to make it special for ourselves. The Torah wants us to internalize it so much that we sing about it. If we accomplish this, we’ve fulfilled the final commandment of writing our own Torah – with all the harmonies that accompany it.

  • Dvar for Vayelech (Deuteronomy 31:1-31:30)

    Parshat Vayelech includes the commandment for every Jew to write a song for themselves (31:19), which Rashi says is referring the following Parsha, Haazinu. The sages derive from this rule the final of the 613 commandments that each Jew has to take part in the writing of a Torah scroll. Why would we be required to write our own song, and then be given the song to sing? Also, how is the requirement to write our own song the same as the requirement to take part in scribing our own Torah?

    If we apply the concept of this weekly Dvar Torah, we can easily understand the Torah’s final commandment: If we take any commandment in the Torah and personalize it, although its source is the Torah, its ownership is very personal. Songs, too, sound different when sung by different people. In fact, music becomes even more personal because it’s a more emotional medium. That’s exactly why the Torah chose music as the metaphor to teach us about personalizing the Torah to make it special for ourselves. The Torah wants us to internalize it so much that we sing about it. If we accomplish this, we’ve fulfilled the final commandment of writing our own Torah – with all the harmonies that accompany it.

  • Dvar for Vayelech (Deuteronomy 31:1-31:30)

    Parshat Vayelech includes the commandment for every Jew to write a song for themselves (31:19), which Rashi says is referring the following Parsha, Haazinu. The sages derive from this rule the final of the 613 commandments that each Jew has to take part in the writing of a Torah scroll. Why would we be required to write our own song, and then be given the “song” to sing? Also, how is the requirement to write our own song the same as the requirement to take part in writing our own Torah?

    If we apply the concept of this weekly Dvar Torah, we can easily understand the Torah’s final commandment: If we take any commandment in the Torah and personalize it, although its source is the Torah, its ownership is very personal. Songs, too, sound different when sung by different people. In fact, music becomes even more personal because it’s a more emotional medium. That’s exactly why the Torah chose music as the metaphor to teach us about personalizing the Torah to make it special for each of us. The Torah wants us to internalize it so much that we sing about it. If we accomplish this, we’ve fulfilled the final commandment of writing our own Torah – with all the harmonies that accompany it.

  • Daily Aliya for Nitzavim-Vayelech, Shvii (7th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Because, G-d explains, I am bringing the people to a Land flowing with milk & honey, the People will eat in contentment and turn from G-d. The Torah, however, will not be completely forgotten from the lips (and hearts) of future generations. Moshe wrote the Torah on that day (Rambam says that he wrote 13 Torahs – one for each tribe and one in the care of the Kohanim/Leviim) and taught it to the People. G-d “commanded” Yehoshua to be strong and courageous in his new role as leader. Moshe completed the writing of the Torah. (Some say that Moshe even wrote the final 8 p’sukim of the Torah, which discuss his death.) Moshe commands the Leviim to take the Torah and place it at the side of the Aron.

  • Daily Aliya for Nitzavim-Vayelech, Shishi (6th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: G‑d commanded Moshe to enter the Tabernacle together with Joshua. G‑d appeared to them both and informed them that a time will come when the Israelites will abandon G‑d and stray after alien gods. At that time, G‑d will hide His countenance from the nation, and they will be subjected to much evils and troubles. Therefore, G‑d says, “Write for yourselves this song, and teach it to the Children of Israel. Place it into their mouths, in order that this song will be for Me as a witness…” This ‘song’ is narrated in next week’s Torah reading.

    We are commanded to write “The Song” (namely the whole Torah), to teach it to the people, so that it should serve as a testament among the People of Israel. This is mitzva #613, to write a Sefer Torah. Our Sages include in this mitzva the significance of acquiring books from which to learn Torah. Since the Torah itself specifies that the “purpose” of writing a Torah scroll is to learn and teach from it, then writing, buying, acquiring all learning texts would be in the spirit of this mitzva.

  • Dvar for Nitzavim-Vayelech (Deuteronomy 29:9-31:30)

    Parshat Nitzavim starts by proclaiming that “you are all standing here today” (29:9), and then proceeds to use the words “this day” two more times in the next three verses, none of which were actually needed for their corresponding sentences to be complete. What significance is the Torah placing on “this day”?

    As Rabbi Abraham Twerski points out, there are two natural roadblocks placed before us as we endeavor to become better people and better Jews, and both of these roadblocks can be overcome by focusing on “this day”: The first natural roadblock is our inclination to look ahead at temptations and hurdles we WILL encounter, and our feelings of frustration and helplessness in overcoming those collective obstacles. The Torah therapeutically empowers us to focus on one day at a time, and leave tomorrow’s worries for another day. The second natural roadblock we face is the guilt of our past, which can sometimes make us feel depressed and unworthy.  We have today to repent for those things we shouldn’t have done.

    With the past behind us, and a whole new year ahead of us, it’s nice to know that we don’t have to wait to become better people… the time is right now, and “this day” is just right.

  • Daily Aliya for Nitzavim-Vayelech, Chamishi (5th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Moshe summoned Joshua and told him to be strong and courageous, for G‑d will be going before him and will not forsake him. Moshe then wrote the entire Torah and gave it to the Kohnaim (priests) and the Israelite elders. Moshe gives the commandment of Hakhel (assembly), whereby every seven years, during the holiday of Sukkot which follows the Sabbatical year, all men, women, and children assemble and the king publicly reads sections of the Torah.

    As the new leader of the Jews, Joshua gets the perfect advice from Moshe, a line that many use today: “Be strong and courageous” (Chazak V’ematz). Be steadfast and strong with your morals, ideals and behavior, and be courageous in your faith in G-d and the future. Present and future both addressed, and a forward-looking encouragement, where the fact that it’s forward looking is just as important as the encouragement itself, both to Joshua and to us today and every day.

  • Daily Aliya for Nitzavim-Vayelech, Revii (4th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Moshe told the Jewish people that they have been given free choice to choose between good and evil, life and death. Their choice will determine whether they are the beneficiaries of G‑d’s blessings or curses. Moshe implored the Israelites to choose life. Moshe informed the people that he is 120 years of age on that day, and he is not permitted to cross the Jordan River together with them. Instead, Joshua will lead them, and G‑d will go before them and destroy their enemies. Moshe enjoined the Israelites to be strong and not fear their enemies.

    From ou.org: The concept of Free Will is beautifully expressed in the concluding Aliya of Nitzavim. It marks the difference between human beings and all other creations. The sun and the moon “fulfill” G-d’s commands without conscious decisions. A bee doesn’t think things out and decide to pollinate a flower. Nor does a lion attacking a weak zebra evaluate the morality of his act. Only humans have the choice to do good or evil. G-d recommends and pleads with us to choose Life and Good, but He leaves the choice to us. That is why we are accountable for our actions; and that is why we stand before G-d in judgment on Rosh Hashana, while animals do not.

  • Daily Aliya for Nitzavim-Vayelech, Shlishi (3rd Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: When G‑d gathers His people’s exiles, the Israelites will once again serve G‑d, and will be blessed with abundance in the work of their hands, the fruit of their wombs, the fruit of their land, and the fruit of their livestock. Moshe enjoined the people to follow the mitzvot, informing them that “it is not beyond you nor is it remote from you. It is not in heaven… It is not across the sea…. Rather, it is very close to you, in your mouth, in your heart, that you may do it.”

    The last three words of the portion are very instructive. Thoughts, words, deeds. Teshuva, repentance, certainly contains all three elements. One must act repentant, by stopping to do the particular sin and by doing the mitzva. He must sincerely regret having done wrong and accept the proper path for his future. This is in the realm of thought. And Verbal confession to G-d is an essential ingredient of the T’shuva process. So too, one can see that many mitzvot – the whole Torah, really, is kept with words, thoughts, and deeds. This isn’t really an either-or situation. The Aliya can apply both to the general and the specific.

  • Daily Aliya for Nitzavim-Vayelech, Sheni (2nd Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Moshe informed the Israelites what will occur after they are exiled from their land due to their sins. Eventually they will wholeheartedly return to G‑d, and G‑d will gather them from the furthest reaches of the heavens and return them to the land of their forefathers. At that point, Moshe says, “G‑d will ‘circumcise’ your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you may love the L-rd your G‑d with all your heart and with all your soul.”

    There’s another way we can look at things here: Teshuva is a gift from G-d. He doesn’t have to command it, He just has to let it be possible, and we should jump at the opportunity. The Torah doesn’t have to tell us to repent, just how to do it. Yet Vidui, verbal confession, is a positive commandment. That means that doing something good for ourselves (eliminating harmful behavior) is not only good for us inherently, but also earns us double points (could this be the origin??).

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