The Torah’s commandments teach us how to reinforce our faith in God’s ability to provide and protect!
By Rabbi Ari Enkin, Rabbinic Director, United with Israel
This week’s Torah portion is “Vayelech” (Deuteronomy 31:1-13) and it is one of the shortest weekly readings in the entire Torah: only 30 verses!
A major theme and mitzva in this portion is the mitzvah of “Hakhel,” the mitzva to gather the nation together. As it says, “At the end of every seven years, during the holiday of Sukkot, when the entire nation comes to appear before God in the place which He shall choose, you shall read the law before all of Israel. Assemble the people, the men and the women and the children, and the stranger that is with you that they may hear, and that they may learn, and that they fear the Lord your God and observe the words of this law…” (Deuteronomy 31:10-13]
To summarize: once every seven years, at the conclusion of the Sabbatical year, during the holiday of Sukkot, the king would read from the Torah to a gathering that consisted of virtually the entire nation.
It is noted that the mitzva of Hakhel is comprised of three “ingredients”: (1) the Sabbatical year, (2) the pilgrimage that brings the entire nation to Jerusalem, and (3) the holiday of Sukkot. Each of these three mitzvot are individually intended to arouse and increase our faith in God. Let’s see how.
During the Sabbatical year, the farmer does not work. The land must remain fallow. The farmer has no steady income. He relies on God for survival, and indeed, he survived the year. Such farmers develop a greater sensitivity to God’s presence in their lives.
In order to perform the pilgrimage, people had to leave their home and travel to Jerusalem. They didn’t have security systems or alarms back then. Who guarded their property? We are told that there were never any thefts or damage committed against those who traveled to Jerusalem for the pilgrimage festivals. Who watched their property? Who protected their belongings? They relied on God! And He come through. This certainly aroused and increased the faith of the pilgrims.
Finally, Sukkot is a lesson in faith for all of us, in all generations. Sukkot reminds us that we left Egypt and trusted in God while wandering the harsh and barren desert for forty years. There was no guarantee that there would be food, no guarantee of water, no guarantee they wouldn’t die from the weather or the scorpions or all the other threats that lurked in the desert. It was a 40-year demonstration of faith.
Nowadays we are so busy in the hustle and bustle of life we sometimes neglect our connection to God and forget how much we need Him. So many distractions, so many obligations, so many pressures. It is important to be busy and make a living for our families, but we can’t let it be at the expense of focusing on God and working on ourselves to become better people.
We have to remember that no matter how busy we are, we are all dependent on God for our success.
We must remember to have faith in Him as He is the true Provider for our needs.
The mitzvah of Hakhel is there to remind us that we sometimes have to pause in life to focus on God and our spiritual growth. Don’t worry about your career and belongings. They’ll still be there. Don’t let life make you so busy that you forget to make time for the One who gives you all that you have!
For more insights by Rabbi Enkin on this week’s Torah portions, click on the links below:
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