Pearls of Rashi – Vayelech

This week’s Torah portion, Vayelech, tells of a number of times that Hashem rebuked the Jewish Nation. Among these, the Parshah tells us that[1] “My fury will rage against them on that day, and I will abandon them and hide My face from them. They will be consumed, and many evils and troubles will befall them. They will say on that day ‘Is it not because our G-d is no longer among us, that these evils have befallen us?'” Rashi cites the words “and hide My face,” and comments that it will be “as though I do not see their distress.”

Why does Rashi explain that Hashem (as so to speak) “hiding His face” as “not seeing their distress?” The simple meaning of our verse is that He will hide His face as if He does not see them, the Jewish people. Why does Rashi say that He will not see their distress?

The explanation is as follows. There comes a point that the Jews suffer bad consequences as a result of their actions. Rashi is referring to Hashem’s providence after Jewish people reach the stage of being consumed. That is when Rashi says that Hashem behaves as if He does not see the Jews’ distress. Hashem chooses not to see their distress; He does not hearken to the Jews prayers that He save us. However, once we do Teshuvah, we are forgiven, and He will come to save us.

This Shabbos is called is called Shabbos Teshuvah; this is because it is the Shabbos of the Ten Days of Teshuvah.

It is known that the content of the weekly Torah portion is related to the time in which it is read. It is quite easy to see the connection here between the Torah portion of Vayelech and these ten days. In as much as this is a time of Teshuvah, returning to G-d, we read the words of rebuke which are found in this Torah reading. These words help return us to Hashem with a complete heart.

In a certain respect, Shabbos Teshuvah is greater than the other nine days of Teshuvah. Just as Shabbos transcends the natural order of the six workdays of the week, so too is the case with Shabbos Teshuvah. It is not simply repentance from sin. Rather, it marks a return to Hashem. We are restoring, returning our souls and ourselves to G-d. Our Divine service reaches a higher level of Teshuvah.

Rashi alludes to this by writing that G-d’s hiding His face from us is “as though” He doesn’t see the Jews’ distress. In other words, despite the fact that it was the Jewish people’s actions which led to[2] “Hashem’s fury raging against them on that day, abandoning them and hiding His face from them,” nevertheless, He is still with us. He still feels (as so to speak) the suffering of the Jewish people. The fact that He behaves toward us “as if” he does not see our pain, only emphasizes His great love for the Jewish Nation.

May we all have a good, sweet year both in spiritual and physical matters. Have a good Shabbos!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 14, Page 117

IN LOVING MEMORY OF OUR FATHER
Mr. Sholom Moshe Hacohen
ben Reb Shlomo Meir Hacohen ע”ה Cohen
Passed away Shabbos Parshas Beshalach, 13 Shevat, 5779
May His Soul be bound in the Eternal Bond of Life
*
DEDICATED BY HIS DAUGHTER AND SON-IN-LAW
RABBI SHMUEL AND RIFKA שי’MENDELSOHN
* * *
לעילוי נשמת
ר’ שלום משה הכהן בן ר’ שלמה מאיר הכהן ע”ה כהן
נפטר ש”ק פ’ בשלח, י”ג שבט, ה’תשע”ט
ת. נ. צ. ב. ה.
*
יו”ל ע”י בתו וחתנו שיחיו
הרה”ת ר’ שמואל ורבקה שי’ מענדלסאהן

[1]. Our Parshah, Devorim 31:17.

[2]. Paraphrased from our verse.

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