Parshat Vayelech


Parshat Vayelech

This Shabbat it also known as Shabbat Shuva – The Shabbat that we read in the Haftarah about the opportunity to “return home”, repent about our negative actions and return to God by making Teshuva, the repentance process that every jew is required to make in order to clean up spiritually.

In our Parasha Moses informs the Am Israel that the day of his death, the “D day” it came on.  “And Moses went and spoke these things to all Israel. And he said to them: I am one hundred and twenty years old today, I can no longer go out and come in.”  “And Moses went.”
Where did he go and what was the purpose of the walk?  The verse does not write where he went, but only that he spoke to the tribes.  What is the purpose of the walk?   Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman – the Ramban (“Nachmanides” 1194-1270 Spain – Israel), explains that Moshe went from tribe to tribe to say goodbye to them like a person who separates from his friend.

That moving event was an awakening to repentance – Teshuva because it reminded everyone of the day of death.  When the Jews see that even a giant among giants like Moses – who stayed on the mountain Sinai for forty days and forty nights without food and drink, who parted the sea and led them for forty years in the desert – this great man too will come to an end, there is no doubt that the end will also come to us, and this stirred their hearts to repentance.

When a person thinks about his impermanence in the world, this is one of the most powerful tools that bring a person to repentance and to recalculate a course. Moshe, on his last day reminds himself of the day of his death, he himself continued to “walk” even on his last day, and to lead the people of Israel with him, to make them leave the routine and enter into a world of thought and observation – into the world of repentance and approach to God.

In these sublime days, the ten days of repentance in which God “comes down” to us and allows us to draw closer to him, this is our opportunity to change our habits and move a little closer towards the open arms of the Creator.

The four steps of the Teshuva according to Maimonides:


  1. Leaving the Sin
    Leaving the sin consists of stopping the commission of the sinful act. One cannot do Teshuvah if one continues to do the sin, even if he or she were to perform the next three steps perfectly.
  2. Regret
    Regret consists in sincerely regretting one’s wrong action. One must be genuinely ashamed and embarrassed over one’s sins.
  3. Confession Before G-d
    Confession before G-d consists of an oral confession spoken out loud, in which one formulates in words the commitments and attitudes one has reached in his or her heart. One should say, “I have sinned, I have done such and such; I deeply regret my actions, and I declare before G-d, who knows my innermost thoughts, that I will never do this sin again.”
  4. Acceptance for the Future
    Acceptance for the future consists of resolving in one’s heart never to commit the sin ever again.


Shabbat Shalon,

Rabbi Refael Cohen

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