Saturday, September 01, 2007

Netzavim - Vayelech summaries

This week is a double portion, leading up to Rosh Hashanah. So here are the summaries:

On the last day of his life Moshe gathers all of the Israelites and renews their covenant with G-d. This covenant also introduces the concept of Areivut, mutual responsibility for one another. He warns them against committing idolatry; G-d's anger and jealousy will be kindled against anyone who turns to the gods of the other nations. The punishment will be so great that the Land of Israel will be decimated, causing future generations to recognise that G-d has punished His nation. The Jews will be exiled to the four corners of the earth.
Eventually, through the difficulties of this exile the Jews will return to serving G-d. Then He will gather all of them to the Land of Israel and give them blessing and prosperity. The Torah is not distant from the Jews, but is accessible to all. Moshe tells the Jews that G-d has placed before them life and good, death and evil, and beseeches them to chose life. Moshe ends by calling heaven and earth as witnesses that the Jews should not forsake G-d and the Torah.

Moshe takes his leave of the Children of Israel. He is now 120 years old and will not lead them across the Jordan River. They should nevertheless remain strong and courageous. Moshe summons Yehoshua and instructs him to not be afraid, for G-d will be with him. Moshe writes out the entire Torah and gives it to the Kohanim.
At the end of the seven year cycle when all the Israelites come to Jerusalem for Succoth, the king should read out the book of Devarim to them. This is in order that everyone will hear, learn and fear G-d and be careful to perform all the words of the Torah.
G-d tells Moshe that his days are coming to an end, and tells him to summon Yehoshua to the tent of meeting. G-d appears to them both and tells them that the Jews will eventually turn to other gods, and therefore be punished with the curses mentioned. However eventually they will return to serve G-d and recognise the reason for their punishment. The Torah should be placed in the ark along with the tablets that Moshe received on Mount Sinai as a testimony to G-d's covenant. Moshe once again gathers the people and speaks to them the words of this song:

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