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Parashah #52 Vayelehk / And he went

In Weekly Torah Portions | on August, 05, 2014 | by

Parashah #52
Vayelekh  /  And he went
Torah: D’varim/Deuteronomy 31:1-30
Haftarah: Hoshea/Hosea 14:2-10; Mikhah/Micah 7:18-20; Yo’el/Joel 2:15-27
B’rit Hadashah: Ivrit/Hebrews 13:5-8

Vayelekh (vah-yeh-lehk) means he went and refers to Moshe’s / Moses’ continued conversation with B’nei Yisra’el / Children of Israel just prior to the appointment of Yehoshua / Joshua, Moshe’s death and the crossing the Yarden/Jordan River. In the first half of this chapter, Moshe calls on B’nei Isra’el to be brave and courageous since the time for them to do battle with the Canaanites is coming soon. He charges them to be diligent in obedience to Yehovah’s laws. In the last half of the chapter, Moshe recalls how The Almighty directed him to write a song for the Israelites to remind them to remain loyal to the powerful Elohim who brought them out of slavery and sustained them in the wilderness. Since both Yesha’yahu / Isaiah and Sha’ul / Paul tell us these events are “end times” prophecy, we might find it beneficial to pay special attention to these words as they may very well apply to us before long.


Some believe from the use of the word “today”, in verse 2, that day was Moshe’s birthday. It was on that day he was born and on that day he would die. I can believe Moshe was born on that day but I’m not sure it means he would die that day. He knew he would not be allowed to go into Eretz Isra’el/Land of Israel. But he assured B’nei Israel it didn’t make any difference who their leader was. Yehovah, Himself would destroy the enemy BUT Israel was to destroy the idols and monuments as they had been commanded many times previously.

In verse 6 “. . . He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” is spoken to B’nei Yisra’el / Children of Israel. They would soon suffer the loss of the first and only leader they had ever known. Shortly afterwards, they would embark upon the campaign of destiny which would forever define their existence as a nation. Yehovah had proven Himself faithful to an entire generation time and time again. He displayed His power and strength in their sight. Now, (pah-neem l’pah-neem) panim l’panim / face to face with the future they had been waiting for, Yisra’el / Israel was prepared to surge forward in faith and victory. Moshe stood before them in his final address to encourage and exhort the people, telling them they would have complete and total success.

Hebrew tradition teaches a person’s income for the year is predetermined at Yom Teruah (some call it Rosh HaShanah). The writer of the book of (Eve-reem) Ivrim / Hebrews quotes D’varim/Deuteronomy 31:6 to encourage his readers to rely on The Almighty to provide for all their needs. He tells them to avoid greed and avarice because Yehovah has already promised not to forsake us: “Keep your lives free from the love of money; and be satisfied with what you have; for Yehovah himself has said, “I will never fail you or abandon you.” Therefore, we say with confidence, Yehovah is my helper; I will not be afraid – what can a human being do to me?” (Ivrim/Hebrews 13:5-6)

In verse 8 Moshe speaks the very same words over Y’hoshua / Joshua and passes his baton of leadership to Joshua in the presence of the people.

Verse 10 speaks about the Sh’mittah of Sukkot / Feast of Tabernacles. Every seventh Sukkot, in the Temple, the king or leader is to read Torah to ALL Israel; the men, women, children and the foreigners so they will shema / hear, learn, fear Yehovah, and obey. The Chumash commentary says the king would read to them D’varim / Deuteronomy, from the beginning to the first paragraph of the Shema (D’varim/Deuteronomy 11:13-21) as well as 14:22-28:69, which covered . . .

• allegiance to Yehovah,
• the covenant
• reward and
• punishment.

This gathering is called (hahk-ehl) Hakhel, which comes from a root word meaning a large public building such as a palace or temple.

It is reported the purpose for bringing the small children and infants to “Hakhel” gives reward to those who bring them because they have demonstrated Torah is precious to them. (verse12) One of the teachings, passed down through the ages, tells of a mother who would bring her son’s cradle to the study hall, so he could absorb the sounds of Torah study from infancy. In modern times, it has become known this is the time to instill values in children ~ from their earliest years; especially by the example of parents and others who are sincere about their ideals.

“. . . their children, who have not known, can hear and learn to fear Yehovah your God, for as long as you live . . .” (verse 13) The goal is to see to it observance remains throughout one’s generation. Or is it about the quality of our observance of Torah? There is a saying, “Children learn what they live.” So is our quality of Torah persuance a daily thing? Many instructions / commandments are meant to be performed daily. Nevertheless, many people have ebbs and flows. Sometimes we give it our best and other times we backslide. Even though it might be very “human”, it isn’t the preferred way.

If we are not consistent in important matters, it is a reflection on our entire performance. The Almighty wants our performance of His commandments to be done with consistent effort, enthusiasm and forethought. If not, it is a statement about the true nature of our devotion to Him and His commandments.

I believe there is another important point to emphasize here. The topic of the passage is conveying the essence of what loyalty to The Holy One is all about. It’s not something which can be done in one day with a good speech, or an inspiring seminar. It is a process! We convey it to our children DAILY. They see what we consider important.

So, what do we do enthusiastically on a daily basis? Most of us never forget to come to the dinner table. Many people would say a day is not a day without watching TV or “chatting” on the internet. This is what we are conveying to those who emulate us. The things we do every day “religiously” are the things which are most important to us. By examining what we think is really important, we may find we need to make some changes. We might even place new emphasis on things we do, knowing our children and perhaps our grandchildren are watching and will imitate us, for better or for worse.

Before (Yome Kip-poor) Yom Kippur / Day of Atonement, it is customary to be introspective. Let us ask ourselves if the example we set is one which we would be proud to see in the next generation. What should we continue doing? What should we eliminate? What is the approach to take to self-improve?

Again, Yehovah reminds Moshe his days are coming to an end (verse14). Moshe is told to call Joshua and both of them are to appear in the Tent of Meeting where “I (Yehovah) shall instruct him”. Although Joshua has spent many years in Moshe’s shadow and has learned much from his leadership, I believe, at this juncture, Yehovah wants Joshua to become accustomed to hearing His voice and taking instructions from Him since Moshe will no longer be available.

Following Moshe’s discourse of encouragement and anticipation, The Holy One gives him the deflating news. After forty long and tireless years of intercession, teaching and preparation, the people will go in and possess The Land only to commit adultery with the gods of the foreigner. The covenant will be shattered and they will turn their back on Yehovah who loves them.

Moshe warns the people about their coming days of lawlessness and in verses 16-18 Yehovah tells Moshe “this people” will . . .

• Offer themselves as prostitutes to foreign gods
• Abandon me
• Break covenant with me

And because of such . . .

• My anger will flare up against them
• I will abandon them
• I will hide my face from them.

Although these words are very harsh, because Israel is Yehovah’s chosen people/nation, we know He will never let Israel fall. He will always protect His people; He will always be present. For those who have been taught the “church” has replaced Israel, it would be advantageous to really read the Word of God for the TRUTH of this matter. And, by the way, “lawlessness” is also translated “iniquity” or, for those of you who search for deeper understanding “without Torah”.

The fate in verses 16-18 is the very same fate we all face if we turn away from Yehovah our God. Though He cares for us, loves us and raises us as His children, He will leave us and hide His face from us for all the evil we do. Yehovah pours out His blessings on us, providing abundantly for our every need. So when we have eaten from His hand and been satisfied, let us not become fat and despise the One who nourishes us. May we be a surprise to The Holy One and walk not according to our natural predis-position. Instead, let us go in the way we have been instructed in His Torah, guarding the integrity of the covenant He keeps faithfully with us. Let us not commit adultery against The Almighty, by choosing to celebrate pagan holidays not even in His Word. Instead let us observe His (moe-ehd-deem) moedim / appointed times / the Feasts of the Lord. Let us commit our lives to serving Him and Him alone. Then we will have full assurance He will not fail nor leave us.

Because verse 19 begins with “so now, write this song . . . and teach it to the Children of Israel . . .”, there are some who believe the entire Torah was meant to be sung. I’m not sure I believe this but then on the other hand . . . remember when we were children . . . how did you learn your “ABC’s”? In song format, probably!

Here is an interesting commentary from the Artscroll Chumash, on verse 19. Ramban (the well-known Sage) notes the command- ment “to write” (in Hebrew) is in the plural, referring to Moses and Joshua, but the commandment to teach it is in the singular, and the actual writing was done only by Moses (verse 24). He explains, as Moses wrote, Joshua stood at his side, watching and reading aloud. Although both of them were to teach – and after this day the responsibility to do so passed to Joshua – Moses was the primary teacher as long as he was alive, because the nation would accept his teachings more readily than anyone else’s.”

The Almighty tells Y’hoshua / Joshua, in verse 23, he is to “bring the people of Isra’el into the land . . .” But, in verse 7 Moshe said Joshua was to go “with this people into the land”. What’s up with the disparity here? I believe Joshua was to be “with” the people as Moshe had been. He was their leader but he was also their friend. This reminded me of a “saying” which goes something like this . . .

“Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow.
Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead.
Just walk beside me and be my friend.”

Nevertheless, Moshe’s mantle of leadership was passed on to Y’hoshua because of his leader-ship skills.

In the Hebrew legends concerning his death, Moshe does not go passively or willingly. Instead, he argues vociferously for life. He implores The Holy One to spare him the indignity of death. He asks Yehovah for mercy and attempts to counter the heavenly decree. It seems strange the traditional stories would paint Moshe – the hero of heroes – as reluctant to accept death. Wouldn’t we expect Moshe to boldly stride into the dark night? But Moshe is an example for all of The Almighty’s people. From His example, we learn we are not to accept death passively. Moshe tell us, “Choose life in order that you may live” (verse 19).

In some religious circles and religions, there is an unhealthy and morbid fascination with death. Since “to be absent from the body is to be home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). It might seem natural to look forward to death and embrace it when it comes. But death is the enemy, the last enemy according to 1st Corinthians 15:26. Though death is an inevitable certainty, it is never our hope. Our hope is in life and the only reason we find comfort in death is because we have seen life overcome it.

Finally, (verses 24-26) when Moshe was through writing the entire Torah, he gave it to the Levites for placement next to, or in, the Ark to make sure no one could “add to or subtract from” the Divine text. Even if people were to disobey Torah, no one would be able to falsify what Torah said. A friend asked about the placement of the Torah in the Ark. They understood it had already taken place after Torah had been given on Har Sinai / Mount Sinai. My response is this: I believe what was given at Har Sinai was placed in the Ark at that time. The final copy was placed in the Ark at this time. The closest I can come to explain- ing the placement of the instructions is this: when my children were toddlers, there were certain guidelines. As they became older, there were additional guidelines, and, when they were teenagers, there were definitely more guidelines!! All of these were meant for their best interest. I believe Israel was given their original instructions at Har Sinai (toddler-hood). As they began their trek across the desert, it became necessary for their Father to give additional instructions, all in their best interest. By the time they reached the Yarden (adulthood), Yehovah knew He had given Moshe as many instructions as necessary for Israel’s own protection. It is this final documentation which takes place here.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Vayelekh  /  And he went
Haftarah: Hoshea/Hosea 14:2-10; Yo’el/Joel 2:15-27; Mikhah/Micah 7:18-20

Once again, our Haftarah isn’t necessarily connected to our Torah portion but rather to the time of the year. Often these readings are on the Sabbath which falls between Yom Teruah (Rosh HaShanah) and Yom Kippur. However, each of these Prophets delivers essentially the same message to the Northern Kingdom also known as the House of Israel and/or (Ehf-rah-yeem) Efrayim / Ephraim.

Hoshea/Hosea 14:2-10 Here Hosea is encouraging Israel to return to Yehovah and to Shema – hear and obey the words of His Torah. Prophetically, both Chapters 13 and 14 speak to Efrayim / Ephraim. The Northern Kingdom in exile is exhorted to return to Torah. Today, the Northern Kingdom is still in exile. Many believers in Yeshua are descendants of the House of Israel (the Northern Kingdom) and most are not following Torah because they “have inherited lies from their ancestors” (Yirme’yahu/Jeremiah 16:19). It is important to keep scripture in context to understand its true meaning. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you rejected knowledge, I will also reject you as cohen / priest for me. Because you forgot the Torah of your God, I will also forget your children” (Hoshea/Hosea 4:6). Consequently, believers in Yeshua (kings and priests of 1st Peter 2:9-10) have other criteria to meet in order to qualify. So, what lies have the believing descendants of the House of Israel inherited? Simply, believers can ignore Torah even though Yeshua/Jesus said “If you love me, keep my commandments”!

Yo’el/Joel 2:15-27 More of the same from Yo’el! Return to Yehovah with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping and lament. Blow the shofar, call an assembly, and repent. When you do, Yehovah will take pity on His people.

Mikhah/Micah 7:18-20 “Micha mocha!”/”Who is like you, O Lord?” (verse 18a) Micah tells the House of Israel (Efrayim, Northern Kingdom descendants) Yehovah will again be merciful to them when they repent and turn from their idolatrous ways. “He does not retain His anger forever because He delights in grace” (verse 18b). Oh my goodness! There it is again, GRACE in the Old Testament!!! So it really isn’t a “new” thing after all!!!

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Vayelekh  /  And he went
B’rit Hadashah: Ivrit/Hebrews 13:5-8

Ivrit/Hebrews 13:5-8 Verse 5 “ . . . I will never fail you or abandon you.” is a direct parallel to D’varim/Deuteronomy 13:6.

While we are in these verses, I would like to address verse 8, which says, “Yeshua the Messiah is the same yesterday, today and forever.” Before I began my “Hebraic Roots” walk, I heard these words used over and over but never really knew the depth and truth of them. Yeshua being the same yesterday, today and forever means He is STILL Jewish and will return as a Jew! The Messiah has not been transformed into a Christian, instead, the word “Christian” refers to people who are being transformed by Him. Yeshua was born a Jew, lived as a Jew, died a Jew, and was resurrected a Jew. He is still a Jew, serving in heaven as a Jewish cohen gadol/high priest. He will return as a Jewish King to sit on the throne of His Jewish ancestor King David. His humanity makes Him the Savior of all, both Jews and non-Jews. But He has not been made into a Gentile!!! He was not and is not some fair skinned, blonde headed, blue-eyed, wimpy, pimpy, ethereal being. He is Jewish, with olive skin, dark hair and, is a man’s man. That’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it!

The designated Psalm for this Torah portion is: Psalm 65


Next week’s lesson is: Parashah #53
Ha’azinu  /  Give ear
Torah: D’varim/Deuteronomy 32:1-52
Haftarah: Sh’mu’el Bet/2nd Samuel 22:1-51
B’rit Hadashah: Romans 10:14-21; 12:14-21; Ivrit/Hebrews 12:28-29


Who fills his mind with Torah clears it of fear and folly.
Rabbi Chanina Sgan HaKohanim


The giving of Torah happened at one specific time, but the receiving of Torah happens all the time, in every generation.
Meir Alter, the Gerer Rebbe


Organize yourselves into classes for the study of Torah,
since it can best be acquired in association with others.
Talmud: Berkot 63b

Shavuah tov (have a good week)!!!

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