Deuteronomy 29:9 – 30:20
Today you are all standing before HaShem – your leaders, your tribal chiefs, your elders, your law enforcers, every Israelite man, your children, your women, and the proselytes in your camp – even your woodcutters and water drawers.
You are thus being brought into the covenant of HaShem, and accepting the dread oath that He is making with you today.
He is establishing you as His nation, so that He will be a HaShem to you, just as He promised you, and as He swore to your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But it is not with you alone that I am making this covenant and this dread oath. I am making it both with those who are standing here with us today before HaShem, and with those who are not yet here with us today. You know full well that we lived in Egypt, and that we also passed through the territories of the nations you encountered. You saw the disgusting, putrid idols that they have, made of wood and stone, gold and silver. Today, there must not be among you any man, woman, family or tribe, whose heart strays from God, and who goes and worships the gods of those nations. There must not be among you a root whose fruit is gall and wormwood. When such a person hears the words of this dread curse, he may rationalize and say, ‘I will have peace, even if I do as I see fit. Let me add some moisture to this dry practice!’ HaShem will not agree to forgive such a person. God’s anger and demand for exclusive worship will be directed like smoke against that person and the entire dread curse written in this book will lie at his door, so that HaShem will blot out his name from under the heavens. HaShem will separate him so that he will have more evil than any of the Israelite tribes, and he will be subject to all the dread curses of the covenant, which are written in this Torah scroll. A future generation, consisting of your descendants, who rise up after you, along with the foreigner from a distant land, shall see the punishment directed against that land, and the plague with which HaShem has struck it, and they will say, ‘Sulphur and salt has burned all its soil. Nothing can be planted and nothing can grow – not even grass can grow on it. It is like the destruction of Sodom, Gomorrah, Adma and Tzevoyim, the cities that HaShem overturned in His anger and rage.’ All the nations will ask, ‘Why did HaShem do this to the land? What was the reason for this great display of anger?’ They shall answer, ‘It is because they abandoned the covenant that God, Lord of their fathers, made with them when He brought them out of Egypt. They went and served foreign gods, bowing down to them. These were gods alien to them, something that was not their portion. HaShem displayed anger against this nation, bringing upon it the entire curse written in this book. HaShem drove them from their land with anger, rage and great fury, and He exiled them to another land, where they remain even today.’ Hidden things may pertain to HaShem, but that which has been revealed applies to us and our children forever. We must therefore keep all the words of this Torah.
Repentance and Restoration
There shall come a time when you shall experience all the words of blessing and curse that I have presented to you. There, among the nations where HaShem will have banished you, you will reflect on the situation.
You will then return to HaShem, and you will obey Him, doing everything that I am commanding you today. You and your children will repent with all your heart and with all your soul. HaShem will then bring back your remnants and have mercy on you. HaShem will once again gather you from among all the nations where He scattered you. Even if your diaspora is at the ends of the heavens, HaShem will gather you up from there and He will take you back. HaShem will then bring you to the land that your ancestors occupied, and you too will occupy it. HaShem will be good to you and make you flourish even more than your ancestors. HaShem will remove the barriers from your hearts and from the hearts of your descendants, so that you will love HaShem with all your heart and soul. Thus will you survive. HaShem will then direct all these curses against your enemies and against the foes who pursued you.
You will repent and obey G-d, keeping all His commandments, as I prescribe them to you today. HaShem will then grant you a good surplus in all the work of your hands, in the fruit of your womb, the fruit of your livestock, and the fruit of your land. HaShem will once again rejoice in you for good, just as He rejoiced in your fathers. All this will happen when you obey HaShem, keeping all His commandments and decrees, as they are written in this book of the Torah, and when you return to HaShem with all your heart and soul.
Availability of the Torah
This mandate that I am prescribing to you today is not too mysterious or remote from you. It is not in heaven, so that you should say, ‘Who shall go up to heaven and bring it to us so that we can hear it and keep it?’ It is not over the sea so that you should say, ‘Who will cross the sea and get if for us, so that we will be able to hear it and keep it?’ It is something that is very close to you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can keep it.
See! Today I have set before you a free choice between life and good on one side, and death and evil on the other. I have commanded you today to love HaShem, to walk in His paths, and to keep His commandments, decrees and laws. You will then survive and flourish, and HaShem will bless you in the land that you are about to occupy. But if your heart turns aside and you do not listen, you will be led astray to bow down to foreign gods and worship them. I am warning you today, that if you do that you will be utterly exterminated. You will not last very long in the land which you are crossing the Jordan and coming to occupy.
I call heaven and earth as witnesses! Before you I have placed life and death, the blessing and the curse. You must choose life, so that you and your descendants will survive. You must thus make the choice to love HaShem, to obey Him, and to attach yourself to Him. This is your sole means of survival and long life when you dwell in the land that HaShem swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, promising that He would give it to them.
This is the seventh of seven “Prophecies of Comfort” that are read between the 9th of Av and Rosh Hashanah
In the Haftara Isaiah tells the people of Israel that their crops will no longer be taken away, the walls of Jerusalem will be repaired and that they will not be forsaken.
- Fifty-First of 54 Sedras in the Torah
- Written on 72 lines in the Sefer Torah
- 30 P’sukim (verses)
- 553 words
- 2,123 letters
Next week’s Parashat: Vayelech