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The Weekly Aliyot
Providing a short summary of the Torah portion read
in the Synagogue on Shabbat.
You are encouraged to read the complete Torah portion of the week,
with the complete Rashi, in a real Chumash.


Nitzavim-Vayelech

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Published and copyright © by Avrohom Gedalia Gershon


  VayelechHa-azinu  

This week's parsha begins with the words: "Atem nitzavim hayom" meaning: "You stand this day". "This day" refers to Rosh Hashanah, and "You stand" means you will be vindicated. In the book "Hayom Yom" it says in the entry for the 25th of Elul that this parsha that we're reading today is read the Shabbos before Rosh Hashanah, and these words in this Torah reading today are blessing us that we will be vindicated on the day of Judgment.


The first aliyah begins by Moshe continuing to say the Jews have now entered into a covenant with G-d. Not just the Jews Moshe is talking to are entered into the covenant with G-d, but all future generations of Jews.

Moshe warns the Jews that in Egypt and in their subsequent travels they have been exposed to all sorts of idol worship, thus, in case there be any among them that are tempted to serve strange gods, they will suffer from all the dreaded curses read last week. Moshe then prophesizes that a future generation will be exiled and the land will be cursed because of these curses.


In the second aliyah the Torah explicitly says that after we experience the blessings and the curses and find ourselves in exile scattered among the nations (as we are now), we will wholeheartedly return to G-d, and G-d will gather us from the furthest reaches of the heavens and bring us back to the land of Israel to live (may this happen speedily in our days). Rashi says that G-d Himself will return with us because He is in exile with us, and that G-d will individually take each person by the hand and redeem them. Then, at the end of the aliyah it says that G-d will remove the barrier to our hearts so that we will love Him.


The third aliyah begins with a continuation of what it will be like at the time of the gathering of the exiles when the Jewish people return to G-d and His Torah with all their heart and soul.

It says here that there will be abundance in the work of our hands, the fruit of our wombs, the fruit of our land, and the fruit of our livestock. Needless to say, this is describing what it will be like in the days of Moshiach, which are close at hand.

The aliyah goes on to say here that the Torah is very accessible to us, that it is not in heaven but right here, written down and orally. And the Torah says here that the Torah is "ki korov ailecha hadavor me-ode, b'ficho, uvilvovecho, la-oso-so". Which means: "For it is exceedingly near to you, in your mouth and your heart, to do." This line is thoroughly explained by the Tanya, the written Torah of Chabad Chassidus, by Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi.


In the fourth aliyah Moshe tells the Jewish people that they have been given free choice to choose between good and evil, which is the choice between life and death. They should choose life by loving G-d and obeying Him.

Moshe then addresses the people by saying that he is 120 years old today, and he is not permitted to go over the Jordan with them. Yehoshua will lead them, and G-d will go with them and fight their enemies for them as He fought Sichon and Og, kings of the Amorites. G-d destroyed them and gave their land to the Jews. We should be strong and not fear.


In the fifth aliyah Moshe calls Yehoshua and tells him to be strong and with courage, and that he will cause the Jewish people to inherit the land of Israel.

Moshe gives the commandment of Hakhel (meaning assemble), where every seven years all the men, women, and children are to assemble and hear the Torah read so that they will learn the Torah and obey, and fear G-d. In years following Shmittah years, the Lubavitcher Rebbe has called for Hakhel years with many gatherings during the year.


In the sixth aliyah we return to some narrative of action in the story of the Jews in the desert, rather than Moshe's review of the Torah that we've had since the beginning of the book of Devarim. Here, G-d says to Moshe that the day of his passing away is approaching, and that Moshe should come with Yehoshua to the Mishkan. They go there and G-d appears to them and tells Moshe that after he passes away, the Jewish people will abandon G-d and stray after the alien gods of the land and evil troubles will befall them. Therefore G-d tells them to write the song contained in the next parsha as witness of why the troubles befell them. The Talmud (Sanhedrin 21b), derives the halacha for every Jew to write a Torah from this passage. The Rebbe instituted a very easy way to participate in this mitzvah, and at the same time unite Jews, and that is by every man, woman, and child buying a letter in a sefer Torah.


In the seventh aliyah Moshe writes down the song and then encourages Yehoshua to be strong and brave.

Then the Torah says that Moshe finished writing the Torah to the very end, and then he gave orders that the Torah he wrote should be placed by the side of the ark of the luchos (tablets).


K'siva V'Chasima Tova


  VayelechHa-azinu  

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