17 Sep Rabbi Hillel Skolnik’s Torah Spark for Parashat Vayeilech 5776
This Shabbat we read Parashat Vayeilech which is made up of only one chapter, chapter 30, and is but thirty verses long. Yet within this shortest of parshiyot, there is an important connection to this particular Shabbat, called Shabbat Shuvah, the Shabbat in between Rosh HaShannah and Yom Kippur. It is at this time of year that we are introspective and consider the reality of our own mortalities. If the High Holiday liturgy teaches us anything, it is that none of us knows in advance the day of our death and it is important to value each and every day that we have on this planet. So too with Moshe, who knew that he would not be entering the land of Israel and surely knew that the end was drawing near, but did not know until this week’s parasha that his death was imminent. It is not until God tells him in verse 14, “The time is drawing near for you to die” that Moshe understands that his final day has arrived and must finally truly confront his own mortality. If we look ahead in the Torah we can see that even as Moshe spends some of his final moments continuing to warn the Israelites of punishment they will incur for ignoring God’s commandments, ultimately his final words are ones of blessing to the people. The lesson for us is that we should always part with words of blessing to one another since, unlike Moshe, we know not which day will be our last.
Rabbi Hillel Skolnik