• 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 Email, 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 (see www.six13.com) . 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!

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

    Aliya Summary: Moshe took the freshly concluded Torah scroll and gave it to the Levites. He instructed them to place it beside the Ark which contained the Tablets. Moshe then gathered the entire nation to hear the song, wherein he would call upon the heavens and earth to be witnesses that the Israelites were forewarned regarding their fate.

    Moshe tells of the prophecy-prediction of the rebelliousness of the People. Moshe speaks the words of the Song – here probably referring to Haazinu – to all the people, in its entirety.

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

    Aliya Summary: When G‑d’s wrath will find the Israelites as a consequence of their evil actions, they will claim that the misfortunes are befalling them because G‑d has abandoned them. At that time, the song which Moshe and Joshua wrote will bear testimony that these events are in fact punishment for their sinful behavior.

    Rambam says that Moshe 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. Some say Yehoshua wrote them.

  • Daily Aliya for Vayelech, Chamishi (5th 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.

    This prophecy of Bnei Yisrael turning from G-d need never have happened. We always have the ability to not let a negative prophecy come true. Even if G-d tells Moshe that this was going to happen, every generation can behave properly and, in effect say, We won’t let it happen to us. Unfortunately, it did come to pass, more than once. But it doesn’t have to, and it is our challenge to not let it happen.

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

    Aliya Summary: 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.

    The Sefer HaChinuch explains that since the Torah is the essence of our existence as Jews, it is fitting that every once in a while there be a major “event” that revolves around the Torah to reinforce the concept of the Torah’s centrality. It is most fitting that the king be the one to read from the Torah and that it take place in the Beit HaMikdash courtyard, and that it take place during a joyous festival.

  • Daily Aliya for Vayelech, Shlishi (3rd 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.

    When Moshe finished writing the Torah, he gave it over to the Kohanim, “the carriers of the Ark”.

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

    Aliya Summary: Moshe continued his talk: G‑d will vanquish the inhabitants of Canaan as He did the Emorites and Bashanites. Moshe enjoined the Israelites to be strong and not fear their enemies.

    “For G-d, your G-d, He will go before you…” Why YOUR G-d? Why not Elokeinu – OUR G-d? One commentator suggests that this is a poignant reminder that Moshe Rabeinu will not be entering the Land of Israel, as will all the people to whom he is speaking. The Talmud states that he who dwells outside of Israel, is like one who has no G-d. Moshe, alas, will remain in Chutz LaAretz.

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

    General Overview: This week’s Parsha, Vayelech, recounts the events of the final day of Moshe’s terrestrial life. Moshe transferred leadership to Joshua and wrote a Torah scroll which he handed over to the Levites. Moshe commanded the Israelites to gather following every Sabbatical year, and informed them of the suffering which will be their lot when they will abandon the laws of the Torah.

    Aliya Summary: Moshe addressed the people, saying 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.

  • 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.

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