10-8-16 Message to Beit Adonai Yisroel – Vayalech (“and he went”)
Torah Portion; Deut 31:1-30
Special Haftarah: Hos 14:2-10, Mic 7:18-20, and Joel 2:15-27
Suggested Acheron K’tuvim: 1 John 1:9
Central question of this message: Can you hear the voice of
G-d calling you to come back to Him?
Today we are in parasha Vayalech, which means “and he went”. In it we see that Moses is going to a place where he can speak to
all of Israel.
This shabbes is known as “Shabbes shuvah”. That is because it falls during the ten “Days of Awe” from the blowing of the shofar
of repentance on Yom Teruah (Rosh Hashanah) to Yom Kippur.
During these ten days we are to do what we might have been putting-off all the other days of the year, and that is getting
accounts settled with one another, and then finally with G-d.
The Hebrew word teshuvah, which is the descriptive modifier associated with shabbes shuvah, is often translated into English as
“repentance”. But that word, as currently used in English, doesn’t seem to adequately capture the entirety of the concept.
The church teaches that repentance begins (and often ends) with heartfelt regret for committing a sin. And it even may imply that
the sinner will attempt to refrain from that sin in the future. But even with those two elements in place, the common understanding
of “repentance” still lacks the most important part of the process… and that is “return”.
In the Hebrew understanding of the concept of teshuvah, the step of expressing true regret for the sin is there. Likewise, the step of
ceasing the particular sin is there. But what the Hebraic understanding expects the final step of teshuvah to be is a return to G-d.
Rabbi Shraga Simmons, an honored scholar who today lives near Modin, Israel, has written on teshuvah. What he has to say would
sound familiar to those who understand the rabbinical underpinnings of the writings of Rb. Shaul (Paul).