Vayeilekh (Deut. 31:1-30), Shabbat Shuvah

Only 30 verses this week.  Piece of cake for the Torah reader. 

In Vayeilekh, Moses tries to provide for a smooth transition for the Israelites now that he will be leaving them and they will be crossing the Jordan into the Promised Land.  He announces that he is now 120 years old and can no longer lead them; and anyway, the Lord has forbade his crossing the Jordan (he just had to get that in one more time).  He publicly turns leadership over to Joshua.  Moses then gives the written Torah to the Kohanim, Levites, Ark bearers, and elders and instructs that it be read to the entire congregation every 7 years, during the Succot festival following the sabbatical year.  Rashi and Ramban believe this refers to reading only Deuteronomy aloud, which would still be pretty long (Try it.).

So, the congregation is provided for and all is well.  Sort of.  The Lord then tells Moses that, in the not very distant future, the Israelites, having grown prosperous, will forget the covenant, worship other gods, and be appropriately punished.  This is probably not a surprise to Moses.  He writes the essence of the law in a long song, as a perpetual reminder for the people of the Torah.  And there is always hope, since repentance and atonement will bring forgiveness.

The Sabbath between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is one of the two times a year that rabbi in olden times was expected to give a sermon, the other being Shabbat HaGadol, on which the laws of Passover would be explained.  This Sabbath is called Shabbat Shuvah, shuvah (return) being the first word of the special haftarah, which has at least three variations: Hosea 14:2-10; Micah 7:18-20; Joel 2:15-27; for Sephardim and Chabad Chassidim, just Hosea 14:2-10; Micah 7:18-2; and, in the Stone Chumash at my shul,  Hosea 14:2-10, Joel 2:11-27, Micah 7:18-20.  They all begin with shuvah, of course.  The word for repentance, teshuvah, has the same root. During these 10 days from Rosh Hashanah through Yom Kippur, the self-examination and repenting initiated at the start of the previous month, Elul, have a heightened intensity. 

It is recommended that one ask forgiveness of individuals one has wronged, preferably about specific wrongs.  In that spirit, I ask your forgiveness for sometimes getting these missives out at the last moment.  I have no good excuse and will try to be more prompt in the future.  However, though I don’t know what specifically may have offended any of you in my comments and choices of jokes and other accompanying items, I still ask generally that you forgive me for whatever you may have found offensive.  And please let me know when such offense occurs.

Shabbat shalom and shanah tovah (a good year),


Parshas Vayeilech – On 1 Foot
ADMIN — JULY 9, 2006

Moshe: I am about to die

Jews: You are?

Moshe: yes.

The End.

Moshe Out of Office Reply: I will be out of the office, permanently. For immediate assistance on Judaism please contact Josh or God



A little boy was listening to a long and excessively boring sermon in church. Suddenly his eye the red sanctuary lamp caught his eye. Tugging his father’s sleeve, he said, “Daddy, when the light turns green can we go?


Lord Help me

Dear Heavenly Father,
So far, today, I’ve done all right. I haven’t gossiped or lost my temper. I haven’t been greedy, grumpy, nasty, or self-centered. I’m really happy about that so far. But in a few minutes I’m going to be getting out of bed and then I’m going to need a lot of help. Thank you! Amen


The Secret Burden (v. lightly edited)

A much loved-minister of God once carried a secret burden of long- past sin deep in his heart. He had committed the sin many years before, during his Bible school training. No one knew what he had done, but they did know he had repented. Even so, he had suffered years of remorse over the incident without any sense of God’s forgiveness. 

A woman in his church deeply loved God and claimed to have visions in which the Lord spoke to her. The minister, skeptical of her claims, asked her, “The next time you speak to the Lord, would you please ask Him what sin your minister committed while he was in Bible school.” The woman kindly agreed. 

When she came to the church a few days later the minister asked, “Did He visit you?” She said, “Yes.” 
“And did you ask Him what sin I committed?” 
“Yes, I asked Him,” she replied 
“Well, what did He say?” 
“He said, ‘I don’t remember.'” 


Quotes on Transitions

Life is one big transition.  Willie Stargell

The interval between the decay of the old and the formation and establishment of the new constitutes a period of transition which must always necessarily be one of uncertainty, confusion, error, and wild and fierce fanaticism.  John C. Calhoun

A lot of people resist transition and therefore never allow themselves to enjoy who they are. Embrace the change, no matter what it is; once you do, you can learn about the new world you’re in and take advantage of it.  Nikki Giovanni


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