For the week ending 20 August 2016 / 16 Av 5776

Parshat Va'etchanan

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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Although Moshe is content that Yehoshua will lead the nation, Moshe nevertheless prays to enter the Land of Israel in order to fulfill its special mitzvot. Hashem refuses. Moshe reminds Bnei Yisrael of the gathering at Sinai when they received the Torah that they saw no visual representation of the Divine, but only the sound of words. Moshe impresses on Bnei Yisrael that the Sinai revelation took place before an entire nation, not to a select elite, and that only the Jews will ever claim that Hashem spoke to their entire nation. Moshe specifically enjoins Bnei Yisrael to "pass over" the Sinai event to their children throughout all generations.

Moshe predicts, accurately, that when Bnei Yisrael dwell in Eretz Yisrael they will sin and be scattered among all the peoples. They will stay few in number but will eventually return to Hashem.

Moshe designates three "refuge cities" to which an inadvertent killer may flee. Moshe repeats the Ten Commandments and then teaches the Shema, the central credo of Judaism, that there is only One G-d. Moshe warns the people not to succumb to materialism and thus forget their purpose as a spiritual nation. The parsha ends with Moshe exhorting Bnei Yisrael not to intermarry when they enter Eretz Yisrael, as they cannot be a treasured and holy nation if they intermarry, and they will become indistinguishable from the other nations.


No Respect for the Hoary Head

“So that you will fear the L-rd, your G-d, to observe all His decrees and commandments that I command you — you, your child, and your grandchild — all the days of your life…” (6:2)

It’s true that years can make us wise — but they can also make us complacent.

Our Sages teach, “Don’t trust yourself until your dying day.” The negative drive is no respecter of a white beard. Quite the contrary, he becomes more subtle and more devious with each passing year.

“So that you will fear the L-rd, your G-d, to observe all His decrees and commandments…”

We can never let down our guard, we can never feel: “That’s it — I made it — I’m sin-proof!”

A healthy fear of G-d is the only way we can safely arrive at our final harbor.

“…you, your child, and your grandchild — all the days of your life…”

Even if we have reached the stage in life when we have children and grandchildren, we are still commanded, “so that you will fear G-d…”, for the negative drive has an inexhaustible stash of tricks up his sleeve.

  • Source: based on the Meshech Chochma

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