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RABBI CHAIM LOBEL הרב חיים לובל

This week is Parshat Vayelech – Shabbat Shuva
Candle Lighting 6:36 PM NYC DST
Rabbi Chaim Lobel – Young Israel of Aberdeen, NJ
www.yiaberdeen.com

 

 

Lost Hope – In Memoriam of Mr. David M. Warren Menachem Dovid ben Harav Yosef Z’L)

“And G-d says to Moses, ‘You will lie with your forefathers but this nation will rise and stray away… and leave Me (G-d) and void My covenant which I had sealed with them. I will be angry on that day and I will forsake them (Israel) and I will conceal my face from them . . . They will say because G-d is not with us these atrocities have happened to us.”

Parshat Vayelech is always read the Shabbat before Rosh Hashanah (Judgment Day) or Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) and it is a difficult read. During our long exile, we have been under constant threat. Today, it is a nuclear threat from Iran and worldwide terrorism. Not so long ago, it was the Holocaust and, before that, the expulsions, pogroms, and massacres.

And each time Israel says it is “because G-d is not with us these atrocities have happened to us.”

If G-d is not with us then what hope do we have? Is this the Torah’s final message as we approach the Days of Awe and stand before G-d? A message without hope?

In truth, it is a message filled with truth and hope. We are in exile. We are under constant threat. Yet, as the Sforno (Rabbi Ovadia ben Yosef, Bologna, Italy; 1475 – 1550) explains, G-d only appears to have left us because He has concealed His face from us. Yet, G-d is surely with us, hears our prayers, and desires our return.

As the Talmud says (Talmud Megillah 13B; 200 CE – 500 CE), G-d creates the cure before the affliction. And we see that here as well. G-d only appears to have left us because we have left Him. Hence, once we return to G-d, we will realize G-d was always there.

The Sforno teaches us that G-d is still among us, caring, and waiting for our return. That is the Torah’s message. Once we return to the ways of the Torah, G-d will reveal Himself and we will see He never left us.

May we be sealed in the Book of Life with good fortune, happiness, and health.

Shabbat Shalom

Gmar Chasima Tova – Happy and Heathy New Year

---

Compassion – In Memoriam of Mr. Herman Brenman (Tzvi Hirsch ben Moshe Z’L)

G-d informs Moses that, in the future, the Jewish people will turn away from a Torah lifestyle and trust in G-d - “I (G-d) will leave them (Israel), and I will conceal my face from them and they will become prey. They will encounter much hardships and distress. Israel will say it is because G-d is not in our midst that these misfortunes have found us.”(Deuteronomy 31:17)

The Sforno (Bolgna, Italy;1475 -1550) resolves the question of what it means for G-d to “conceal my face” after He has left Israel – God never leaves Israel. Rather, it would only appear so after G-d withdraws his protection and Israel is confronted by all the dangers of a chaotic world. By concealing his face, G-d means that, just as Israel turned from G-d, so will G-d turn from Israel’s misfortunes so that his compassion shouldn’t be aroused.

However, look closely at the next line. “They will encounter much hardships and distress. Israel will say it is because G-d is not in our midst that these misfortunes have found us.”

If G-d has withdrawn his blessings and Israel is beset by “hardships and distress”, the logical response would be to do everything possible to regain G-d’s favor. Instead, “Israel will say it is because G-d is not in our midst that these misfortunes have found us.”

As the Sforno comments, notice what Israel doesn’t say, that it is because we have sinned and turned from G-d that these misfortunes have found us. On the contrary, Israel will fail to recognize the greatest misfortune of all - G-d is not in our midst!

Why? Because change is difficult. Repentance is particularly difficult. But blaming all our misfortune on G-d is easy. It’s also a path to nowhere.

Just as G-d has turned from us because of our sins, so does He desire to embrace us the moment we embrace his Torah. We have the power to live according to the laws of our Torah and, by doing so, the power to change our fortune. But the onus for action is upon us.

Shabbat Shalom

Gmar Chasima Tova – Happy and Heathy New Year


 
   
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