Vayelech – A thought for the week by Mike Lewis

In the Sedra this week, Shabbat Shuvah the Shabbat of “return”, we are introduced to the last day of the life of Moses.


These days you will often hear of people discussing their “bucket lists”, what they want to do before they die; places to visit and things to do. It could be called a list of regrets and desires. What I suspect is that what most of us really want is to leave a legacy rather than a scrapbook that will end up in a drawer after we have gone.


Moses does not need such a list. His life from birth has been full of events, from the palace of Pharaoh to coming face to face with God and leading this incredibly rebellious people. So, what did he write on that day?

וַיִּכְתֹּ֣ב משֶׁה֘ אֶת־הַתּוֹרָ֣ה הַזֹּאת֒
Then Moses wrote this Torah

And he goes on to command

תִּקְרָ֞א אֶת־הַתּוֹרָ֥ה הַזֹּ֛את נֶ֥גֶד כָּל־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל בְּאָזְנֵיהֶֽם:
You shall read this Torah before all Israel, in their ears
And their children, who did not know, will hear and learn to fear the Lord, your God, all the days that you live on the land, to which you are crossing the Jordan, to possess

The Torah was to be put at the side of the Ark hidden from view. We are given the Mitzvah of “Hakhel”, to gather to hear the reading of the Torah by the King at Sukkot but, only every seven years in the Shemitah year. Now we read the Torah over the course of one year (or every three years depending on your tradition).


Perhaps the “return” that is the name of Shabbat Shuvah and the legacy of Moses is not just to read the Torah but also to hear the Torah. It is not an immutable rulebook. It is a guidebook to our lives. To quote Rabbi Louis Jacobs

We have reason to believe
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