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Vayelekh (and he went)

Deuteronomy 31:1-30, Isaiah 55:6 to 56:8


Note Deuteronomy 31:17-18 shows that repentance involves more than acknowledging sin.

Note verse 31:12 says that even little children were commanded to be present. Some experiences are important even if we do not comprehend them at the time. And children do distract adults during services but sometimes the adults must simply accept that.

Compare Deuteronomy 31:27-29 and Judges 2:7—the people did remain faithful to God until Yehoshua's death.

Since the knowledge of which year is sh'mittah (release) is lost, perhaps we should obey verse 31:10-11 by reading all of Deuteronomy each Sukkot.

Is Deuteronomy 31:23 the first time God speaks directly and only to Yehoshua?

Traditional Jewish Commentary

Rabeinu Bachye interprets Deut 30:15 as speaking of the ressurection. Thus we receive "good" and "bad" after receiving "life"and "death". Seforno agrees "life" and "death" refer to ressurection but says "good" and "bad" refer to this life.

Deuteronomy 31:1 begins "Moshe went...unto all Israel". The Torah's promises to Israel began in Genesis 12:1 with God telling Abram "Lech lecha" (go to yourself) and end with Moshe going to Israel to speak.

Where did Moshe go in verse 31:1? Tradition claims he visited each household in the camp, to personally say farewell.

What did Moshe mean by "I can no more go out and come in" in verse 31:2? He is no longer strong enough to go to war. Other sages say the gift of understanding Torah had departing from him to rest upon Yehoshua.

In verse 31:9, Moshe writes down "this Torah" (probably Deuteronomy) and gives it to three groups of people: the priests, the Levites who carry the ark, and all the elders. Did he write three copies?

The Tz'enah Ur'enah records: "The Sages learn that the dead will live again, as it says (verse 31:16), 'Lo, you will sleep with your forefathers, and rise'. This means: You will die and once again live."

The Tz'enah Ur'enah also records how verse 31:21 is interpreted as evidence that "when Mashiach comes the commandments will be nullified, for the evil inclination will be nullified...when the evil inclination will be nullified the Torah, too, will be nullified, so to speak, for it is given to save people from their evil inclinations. This will come about when the dead are resurrected, which will be many years after Mashiach."