Torah Portion: Vayelech (He Went) D’varim(Deut.) 31
Haftorah Reading: Hosea 14:1-10; Micah 7:18-20, Joel 2:15-27
The Torah portion we are studying tonight is always the portion read right before Yom Kippur. I want us to spend some time talking about Yom Kippur and how this appointed time might speak to us spiritually in our own lives.
This Shabbat is known as “Shabbat Shuvah.” This means the Sabbath of Repentance. The reason for this is found in the verses from Isaiah 55:6-56:8, especially the verses 55:6-7, “Seek the L-rd while He may be found.” This brings up an interesting question. Is there ever a time when He cannot be found? In Jeremiah 7:16 we read, “Therefore do not pray for this, nor lift up a cry or prayer for them, nor make intercession to Me, for I will not hear you.” This same idea appears three more times in Jeremiah 11:14, 14:11, and 15:1. The last being the strongest, “Even if Moshe and Samuel stood before Me.” From these we can see there are times when G-d will not hear.
There can come a time when we have gone so far that G-d doesn’t hear our prayer. (Romans 1:28, 1:24) Yom Kippur should remind us of the importance of repentance, the urgency of repentance. To continue to sin without repentance causes what, we become desensitized to sin. We no longer recognize our sin. We believe we are okay while truly we are not. This time of year brings us face to face with who we really are, not who we think we are. What is repentance truly? We come face to face with our sins, we remove them from our lives, we resolve in our heart to never commit them again. We regret what we have done and ask the Father to forgive us for our sins. This does not mean we will never be tempted again but as our resolve and actions come into play G-d gives us the ability to rise above what we were to what and who we are as children of the King.
I think our biggest issue is to recognize what we have done that is sin. It is hard to look at ourselves honestly. We see ourselves as we think we are rather than who we really are. We become accustomed to our lives, our speech, our thoughts and see no issue with them. Everybody does it, gossip, half truths, judging, etc. We become numb to our sins. In Judges 17:5-13 we read about a Levite who stayed with a man of Israel named Micah. Micah had idols in his house yet the Levite apparently saw nothing wrong with it. It says, “Every man did what was right in his own eyes.” What have we allowed into our homes and become comfortable with? Later in the story of the Levite someone comes to him and asks what are you doing here with idols in the house?
So when things need to be repented for we find it hard to enumerate exactly what we are repenting for. We may try to get by with, “forgive me for my sins.” However, it rarely changes anything. To change we have to get specific. How do we get specific? We must know what G-d’s word says about what G-d’s people can and cannot be involved in. The specifics can be very enlightening. If we ask G-d to reveal truth to us we may see things we have been doing everyday revealed as sin. Until we can come face to face with who we are and what we do we will not change. However, when we do know, then we can change, our resolve will grow and we will come closer to the Father. That is what this time is about, real lasting change in our lives. Last week we read verses from Deut. 30:11-20 which brings me to my question for this week and the comparison of these verses with Matt. 13:44-46. I believe these verses speak of the same thing. We are able to keep our feet on G-d’s path when we seek His kingdom. What will it cost us? It will cost us everything, it is the pearl without price, it is a treasure, a guiding light. It is not necessary to cross the ocean nor do we have to ascend to heaven to find it. It is very near to us. It is in our mouth, in our heart, that we may do it. It takes action on our part. Hebrew is a language of action. What matters is what we do. I urge each of you to search G-d’s word for guidance on how we are to live our lives, what words come out of our mouths, what we hide in our hearts, what we fill our minds with each day. We are to be light, not contribute to the darkness. Our words are meant to lift up, not ridicule and tear down. We are G-d’s people – Seek Him while He may be found.