Torah Portion: Vayelekh(He Went) D’Varim/Deut. 31
HafTorah: Hosea 14:1-10; Micah 7:18-20; Joel 2:15-27
Tonight we read the Torah section that always comes between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. This Sabbath has a special name. It is called Shabbat Shuvah. Shuvah is a Hebrew word meaning to return or to repent. We find this word used in the reading of the prophets that goes with this Torah Portion. In Hosea 14:1-10 we read in the first verse, “O Israel return to the L-rd, your G-d for you have stumbled because of your iniquity.” So here the prophet is calling the people to repent. Remember that to repent means to turn around, to stop sinning and start doing good. These days call to us to take this step. We are called to change how we live. This is really the central idea found in the Messianic scriptures. We see it in the writing such as Matt. 3:2, Luke 13:3, Acts 5:31, Acts 17:30. These are only a small part of the verses that talk to us about repentance, stop, turn around and change how we live.
Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur are festivals that ask us how we have lived thus far. Have we been traveling in the wrong direction? Does the way we live give us a sense of purpose, meaning and fulfillment? These days are like a beacon, a lighthouse on the rocks, giving us the opportunity to change course.
Life is more than just passing time. We only have one life to live. Unlike money, time wasted can never be reclaimed. Our life as G-d’s people should be lived for the things that matter.
I read an interesting article by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks this week. Below are some challenges he discussed that deserve our attention.
$11. Give Thanks: giving thanks to G-d for life, for everything He has placed in our trust, every detail of life, especially the small things. This can truly transform us. It will help us notice those things that we might otherwise take for granted. It helps us realize that we are surrounded by blessings. We are here. We have friends, family, the light of this day. Our problems should never over shadow what G-d has done for us. Always start with the blessing and the approach the needs we have. Even medical science shows that people who have an attitude of gratitude usually live longer and happier lives.
$12. Pass on values to those we love. People, family and friends need hope. They need love, they need to see who we really are, they need to see how we live life, not just in the good times but even in our challenges. They need to see how we live day to day.
$13. Never quit learning. Develop a system that works for you. Find a system that involves study and learning more about G-d everyday. We all need a system that is more than just going to a meeting or conference. To reap the benefits and continually grow in our faith our study, our learning must be a life style a daily activity.
$14. Never compromise your faith in public. Our beliefs at home should be our guiding light at work, at the store or where ever we find ourselves each day. People can spot a phony easily. Live your faith where you are and whomever you are with.
$15. Forgive. Hate and unforgiveness drain us emotionally and spiritually. Time on this earth is too precious to be eaten up by unforgiveness. Again, as G-d’s children the scriptures are filled with verses that speak to us about forgiving. Vayikra/Leviticus 19:17, I John 2:11, Psalms 32, 51,78, Col. 3:13, Luke 17:3-4
$16. Don’t waste time with evil speech (lashon hara). This is always looked at as akin to murder. It undermines relationships and poisons the atmosphere in families or groups. Always remember words are holy. G-d used words to create. We are to guard our speech.
These points, if practiced, will change our life. We will find our days filled, not with conflict, but with joy, thankfulness and contentment.
My question this week was about G-d hiding His face from us and what do we think might cause this. More importantly, what can we do when we find it difficult to connect with G-d. I think some o these points we have just covered can play a major part in prevent that feeling of estrangement from Him. G-d cannot be in the presence of sin. Sin causes a break between us and our Heavenly Father. Repentance heals that broken relationship. I encourage you to take the time to deal with anything that stands between you and G-d. Forgive and be forgiven, let this become a part of your daily life. Allow Him to show His face to you again.