For the week ending 22 September 2012 / 5 Tishri 5773

Parshat Vayelech

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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"Return, O Israel, to the L-rd, your G-d, for you have stumbled through your sinning." (Hoshea 14:2)

Thus begins the haftara which will be read this Shabbat in synagogues throughout Eretz Israel and the world. In fact, this Shabbat bears the name "Shabbat Shuva" partly because of the word Shuva (Return) in this opening statement.

Standing in the Days of Awe, between the judgment days of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, every Jew with a conscience is aware that he has much to atone for in order to truly merit being inscribed in the Book of Life for the year which is just beginning.

But when we reflect on the prophet's reminder that we have "stumbled" through our sins, we cannot help but realize that such a warning is directed not only at each individual Jews, but also upon Jewry as a whole. Cannot we attribute the threat of a nuclear Iran and the resulting rift between Jerusalem and Washington to a stumbling in our faith in G-d as the only source of our salvation? And have the recent efforts to curtail Torah study in the yeshivot in Israel caused us to stumble not only in security matters but in economic ones as well?

When we pray during these High Holidays for G-d to help us individually in our return to Him, let us also keep in mind that He open the hearts of so many of His misguided children to return and put their faith in Him to protect Israel forever.

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