Thursday, September 17, 2015

Parashat Vayelekh (he went)

Deu 31:1-30

Have you ever heard the expression “If it’s not written down, it never happen” or “You don’t know until you read it” In the fourth reading of this parashat in verses 10-13 we read “And Moses commanded them, saying: “At the end of every seven years, at the appointed time in the year of release, at the Feast of Tabernacles, when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God in the place which He chooses, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Gather the people together, men and women and little ones, and the stranger who is within your gates, that they may hear and that they may learn to fear the Lord your God and carefully observe all the words of this law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God as long as you live in the land which you cross the Jordan to possess.” This is what is known as the mitzvah of “Hakhel”- which means gather or assemble, its express purpose was for the people to hear a reading of the Torah and it’s the only event that required the attendance of every Israelite.
This account brings to remembrance of another event in the history of the Israelites where they’re gathered as a whole nation and that is of course the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai, also known as Matah Torah. This reliving of that particular experience is what I believe the reason why God is commanding them to do Hakhel. We also see this type of public reading when kings were inaugurated in Parashat Shoftim, where the king is to write down a scroll for himself and read it out loud, this again points to the importance of God’s people hearing and learning Torah. Why does God put so much emphasis on His written Word?  Well we know that repetition is the mother of all learning and with God it’s no different. We see God time and time again telling us to hold fast to remember the experience of Matah Torah. This is shown in Deu 4:10 “Remember the day you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, when he said to me, "Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children."

When God’s people gather together, young and old, male and female to hear God’s word in public, this reinforces the accountability as a nation to fear God and stand in awe and this seems to be one of the reasons that we see it demonstrated in all of these events.  The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom and to stand in awe is to have reverence and respect to the creator of the universe. And this is one of the beginning points of coming close to God; one must have an acknowledgement of who He is, which it’s clearly demonstrated in His Word.  One understanding that is clearly seen in the event of the giving of the Torah is the position of God being a king and Israel entering into the status being a kingly nation of priest. If we have a king and we have a nation of priest, then we should also have a rule of law and that rule of law is the Torah. It would be important to the king to let his subjects know that the Torah is the constitution of the kingdom of God! Therefore we see it time and time again God is telling us, reminding us and even commanding us to hold fast to His rule of Law, which in reality are just instructions in how to live a right way in His kingdom, regardless if it’s on this side of the world to come.

Israel as a whole might not be doing this commandment at the moment, but we do know that the ingathering of the people to the land is a good start. Just as we non-Jewish start to realize the true concepts of the principles of God, the Jewish people are also realizing that they need to repent to their secular ways. And just as we see in this parashat that they’re told to do this just as they’re getting ready to enter into the Promised Land, this should point to the time again when Israel is to be gathered up from exile and then they’ll be doing all the principles together as a nation. We’re in the season of repentance this week anticipating and asking God to remember us and to inscribe us in the Book of Life. Oh that we would hold to Torah (the Book of Life) ourselves and to do true repentance out of love and have a true sense of awe as we approach the next appointed holiday. God has written it down so we don’t have to guess what He wants for us all we have to do is to read His word and wanting to understand it by allowing the Ruach of God to instruct us properly!
May god continue bring us closer to Him, by His Word!

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