July 23, 2024 ~ Sh PINEHAS. M SABA.

Shabbat Vayelekh - שבת וילך



וילך - In the annual cycle, the Torah is divided into 54 portions (פרשיות). Of these portions, some consider "Vayelekh" (Deuteronomy 31:1-30) to be "the shortest perasha." This, however, is the shortest only in terms of verses (30), not in words (1,484), or letters (5,652). "VeZot HaBerakha" is actually the shortest perasha. Although it consists of 41 verses, it only consists of 512 words and 1,969 letters. In contrast, "Naso" is the longest perasha with 176 verses, 2,264 words, and 8,632 letters. Identifying the second longest perasha depends on the criteria used. "Miqes" is the second longest based on letter count (7,914), "Vayera" is second longest based on word count (2,085), and "Pinehas" is second longest based on verse count (168). The above only applies to the annual Torah cycle. Prior to the Middle Ages, the triennial system was used where there were approximately 154 much shorter Torah portions to be completed only once every three years. Tiqqun Highlights, Beth Torah Bulletin, October 5, 2019.

Enable Them

ואתה תנחילנה אותם - As Moses prepares a transition to the next generation, he charges Joshua to be courageous and brave, because he will lead the nation to the Promised Land and "will divide it for them" (Deuteronomy 31:7). Another way to translate "ואתה תנחילנה אותם," is "to enable them to inherit it." In addition to being brave and keeping morale high, the role of Joshua, says Moses, is to help the people receive their inheritance. Although inheritance has an implication of entitlement, this is not the case when it comes to God's inheritance to Israel. For the Israelites, their inheritance will only be realized with much effort and hard work. The role of Joshua, or any other leader, should not be the pursuit of fame, legacy, or respect, but rather to help guide the people on the right path to allow them to achieve their goals. A good leader is someone who enables his followers become the best version of themselves. Beth Torah Bulletin, September 15, 2018.


בחג הסכות ... למען ישמעו ולמען ילמדו - The mentioning of Sukkot in Deuteronomy 31:10 is of significance at this time of year, because it reminds us what the purpose of this holiday is. In Biblical times, at the end of the Sabbatical year, Sukkot is when everyone, young and old, male and female, would gather (Haqhel) in the nation's capital for a very educational purpose. This gathering is meant to review the basic themes of the Torah (to fear God and to understand the commandments) with the next generation of Israelites. A major aspect of our tradition's survival is its successful transmission to the youth. Our teacher, Moses, designated this holiday, the happiest time of the year; at a time when the harvest has been accomplished, when the weather is most pleasant, and when everyone is dining with their families and friends in symbolic tabernacles, to focus on continuity; to teach our way of life to our descendants so that one day, they can do the same (Beth Torah 10/15/16).