Vayelech in a Nutshell
The Parshah of Vayelech (“and he went”) recounts the events of Moshe’s last day of earthly life. “I am one hundred and twenty years old today,” he says to the people, “and I can no longer go forth and come in.” He transfers the leadership to Joshua and writes (or concludes writing) the Torah in a scroll which he entrusts to the Levites for safekeeping in the Ark of the Covenant.
The mitzvah of hak’hel (“gather”) is given: every seven years, during the festival of Sukkot of the first year of the shemittah cycle, the entire people of Israel—men, women and children—should gather at the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, where the king should read to them from the Torah.
Vayelech concludes with the prediction that the people of Israel will turn away from their covenant with G‑d, causing Him to hide His face from them, but also with the promise that the words of the Torah “shall not be forgotten out of the mouths of their descendants.”
Thought for the week
And it shall come to pass (“vehaya”), when all these things have come upon you, the blessing and the curse (Deut. 30:1)
Our Rabbis explain that the word “vehaya” is an expression of joy. A Jew must always strive to serve G-d joyfully, regardless of whether he encounters blessing in life or (G-d forbid) the opposite. As our Sages declared, “A person is obligated to bless G-d for [apparent] evil in the same way he blesses Him for good.”
THE CALL OF THE SHOFAR
Shofar will be blown in Marais Rd. Shul on Monday & Tuesday at 10.30am
The central observance of Rosh Hashanah is the sounding of the shofar, the ram’s horn, on both mornings of the holiday.
The first 30 blasts of the shofar are blown following the Torah reading during morning services and constitutes the Mitzvah. It’s Jewish tradition to add another 70 blasts, which are then blown during (and immediately after) the Musaf service. Ideally one should be present throughout all 100 blasts.
The shofar blowing contains a series of three types of blasts: tekiah, a long sob-like blast; shevarim, a series of three short wails; and teruah, at least nine piercing staccato bursts.
The Mitzvah is to hear the shofar blasts, not to do them yourself. Adults and children alike are encouraged to be in shul and listen carefully to the shofar blasts, thus fulfilling this Biblical command.
The blowing of the shofar represents the trumpet blast that is sounded at a king’s coronation. Its plaintive cry also serves as a call to repentance where we consider if we are worthy subjects of G-d.
We use a ram’s horn for the shofar (kudu and other buck are equally kosher options) in order to recall the Binding of Isaac, an event that occurred on Rosh Hashanah in which a ram took Isaac’s place as an offering to G‑d.