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Moses appointed twelve emissaries to scout out the Holy Land and return with a report. The representative for the tribe of Ephraim was Moses’ primary disciple, Joshua. Until this time, the lad’s name was Oshua. But Moses added a letter to his name and called him Joshua.
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Home » Vayelech

Vayelech: Food for Thought for your Dinner Table

Submitted by on September 28, 2008 – 2:30 amNo Comment | 2,492 views

Sunday: Where Did He Go?

The first words of our parshah, “And Moshe went and spoke to the sons of Israel.” Where did he go? Taking into account that this parshah is read between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur the commentaries suggest that he went to inspire Jews to repent. No one likes to acknowledge their need to repent; we deny it till the truth hits us between the eyes. Moshe went from tent to tent and talked to every Jew. He went to them because he knew that when the topic is repentance no one would come to him. In effect, Moshe did not contend himself with encouraging repentance, he pursued it.

Repentance brings peace between a Jew and G-d. This might be what our sages meant when they said that peace should not only be valued, but pursued. Kli Yakar

Monday: Have No Fear

Moshe exhorted the people not to fear the armies they would face when they entered Israel. When Yaakov met Esav the Torah tells us he was afraid. According to our sages, he was afraid that his sins might have made him unworthy of receiving Divine blessing. If Yaakov, the great Tzadik was afraid of his sins, surely the simple Jew should be terrified!

Yaakov was protected by angels (who greeted him at the border of Israel) and angels are required to treat us in accordance with our merit. Not so G-d, who is compassionate toward all, including the sinner, because He loves his children and forgives their sins. Moshe exhorted the Jews not to fear their enemies because “G-d… will walk before you.” Tiferes Yonasan

We might add that on Rosh Hashanah we appeal directly to G-d for a happy new year, not to the ministering angels. Even if we are not fully worthy, G-d has it in Him to forgive us.

Tuesday: The Committee

Moshe advised Yehoshua to appoint a committee of elders to help him lead the nation, but G-d instructed Yehoshua to lead on his own.

Moshe was able to lead by committee because his generation revered the Torah and always followed his lead. G-d, who knew that the following generation would not be as obedient as their predecessor, instructed Yehoshua not to appoint a committee. G-d knew that committee members, who are irreverent to Torah, would use their position to counter Yehoshua’s influence. He instructed Yehoshua to lead on his own because a generation at risk requires sure-handed leadership. Committees are powerful forces for good, when they are wiling to follow the path of good leadership.  Ksav Sofer

Wednesday: Purity of Youth

Once every seven years the entire nation gathered in the Beis Hamikdash, where the king would chant from the Torah. Children, who are not required to study Torah, also attended this gathering in order to bring reward to those who brought them. What is the nature of this reward?

Torah study for children is celebrated because children are innocent of sin. Adults cannot attain the purity of children, yet, the purity and holiness of the children rubs off on the adults who bring them to the study hall and teach them. This is the nature of the reward received by the adults who brought their children to the Beis Hamikdash. Toras Moshe – Chassam Sofer 

Thursday: Double Negatives

During the exile G-d warns that “Conceal I shall Conceal my face.” The Baal Shem Tov taught that this double concealment is the greatest possible concealment because the fact that G-d is concealed is itself concealed. On the other hand, this very concealment is a blessing.

When one reflects on the Divine presence and realizes the awesome and compelling nature of its imminence one wonders how it can be concealed. Is there a force capable of overpowering its creator and concealing His face? The answer must be that the creator conceals His own face. G-d’s power to conceal, which restricts His compelling imminence, must be even more awesome than His power to reveal. We thus realize that in times of concealment we are in the presence of greater Divinity than in times of revelation. Therein lays the blessing of concealment. Likutei Sichos

Friday: Writing a Torah

Moshe instructed the people to each write a Torah of their own yet Jews have never made an effort to ensure that all Jews personally write a Torah.

The Mitzvah of Lulav can only be fulfilled when the Lulav belongs to the person who waves it. However, it is permissible to wave a Lulav that was gifted to the user on the condition that he returns it after it is used. In a similar vein, one can fulfill the mitzvah of writing the Torah through a Torah that is written on behalf of a community. The community contracts the scribe to write the Torah on behalf of every member of the community. To be more precise, it is written on behalf of every person who is called to the Torah. Every member of the community owns the Torah for the duration of time that he is called to the Torah. Though he must return the Torah to the community after he is finished he has still fulfilled the Mitzvah when he read from a Torah that belonged to him.

Of course one, who actually helps to pay for the writing of a communal Torah, fulfils the Mitzvah in the most preferable manner. Likutei Sichos

Shabbat: Extensions that Belong

The Talmud records a dispute between the sages and Rabbi Meyer about the precise placement of the Torah that Moshe wrote. Rabbi Meyer held that it was placed in the Ark, whereas the sages held that it was placed on a ledge attached to the outside of the Ark. The Tablets contained the essence of the Torah; Ten Commandments written in concise language. The Torah scroll elaborates on the ideas advanced in the Ten Commandments. This is the key to the dispute about whether the scroll was placed in the Ark directly beside the Tablets or adjacent to the Ark on an attached ledge.

Ideas of the Torah are often difficult to grasp forcing the teacher to resort to elaborative analogies. Rabbi Meyer held that elaborations and analogies must themselves be a part of the Torah and that one may not utilize an analogy from a source unrelated to the Torah. The sages felt that analogies can, and should, be culled from all sources so long as they remain loyal to the Torah’s message. Likutei Sichos

Edited by Rabbi Yeruchem Eilfort, Director of Chabad at La Costa