Nitzavim / Vayeilech – Torah Themes

Parshas Neitzavim


Holiness and Growth


Yalkut Reuveni quotes the Zohar (Tikkunim 70) that states that when one is circumcised he is able to reach the highest levels of closeness to Hashem. Zohar says that a verse in our parsha teaches this lesson. Devarim (30:12), “השמימה לנו יעלה מי” starts with the letters ‘מילה’ Mem-Yud-Lamed-Hey and ends with the letters of Hashem’s name (Yud-Hey-Vav-Hey). What is this all about and what does the lesson have to do with this verse?


The Torah teaches us to be holy, “Kedoshim tehyu”. Holiness is not just a virtue; it is the way that we purify our bodies and souls to be conduits to connect with Hashem. The verse is speaking about the obligation we have to pursue Torah and purity and how Torah is achievable for all who go after its lessons. It is available on earth and does not require one to ascend the heavens to retrieve it there. There in lies two hints. One is that with holiness one can ascent up to the heavens, to get close to Hashem. The second hint is that this level is achievable, it is not impossible. The Zohar is teaching us that kedusha leads to connection with Hashem. It is from this place of holiness that one achieves greatness.



Parshas Vayeilech


Moshe’s Life


Hashem tells Moshe that his days (ימיך) are drawing to a close (Devarim 31:14). Yalkut Reuveni quotes the Gali Raza who comments: The word yamecha has the numerical value of 80. This number corresponds to the 80 years of Moshe’s life before he assumed the mantle of leadership for the Jews. Moshe served from 80 until 120, a total of 40 years. Hashem considered Moshe’s 80 years to be rewarded as if he was serving then as well. This is why it says that Hashem spoke to Moshe from the ohel moed. Moed (מועד) has the numerical value of 120. To show that all of Moshe’s years were for the service of Hashem.


The lesson here is that during the time that Moshe was not yet the leader, he still had his heart set on learning Torah, doing mitzvos, kindness and helping his brethren. Moshe yearned in his heart to help his nation. When he was young he went out and saw their troubles and he cared deeply for them (see Rashi Shemos 2:11). When we strive to accomplish something, Hashem gives us reward for our efforts, even if at the moment we are not able to fulfill the goal.


Moshe’s heart and mind were focused on the Jews and so it was as if he was leading them all along. Additionally, his thoughts and prayers carried them during that time as well. This greatness of Moshe allowed him to connect with Hashem like no other prophet. Thus, the word moed, which means the meeting place, the special place where Hashem and Moshe conversed, appropriately expresses how Moshe achieved this connection. It was through his 120-year dedication and care for the nation that he reached the highest heights.

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