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Dear Mogen David Family,

On this Shabbat we read Parashat VaYelech, in addition to a special Haftara from the Navi Hoshea for Shabbat Teshuva. Shabbat Teshuva [or Shuva], situated during the Asseret Yemei Teshuva between Rosh HaShanna and Yom Kippur, is an opportune time for self-reflection and introspection. The minhag for time immemorial is for the Rav of the community (or Kehilla) to deliver a stirring Derasha that will evoke feelings of Teshuva before the upcoming Yom HaKippurim, to assist with our atonement and penitence. 

Is there any allusion or theme embedded within Parashat VaYelech consistent the Yamim Noraim? Perhaps the most famous idea within our Parasha is the concept of Hester Panim. "V'Anochi Asther Astir Panai BaYom Hahu,"--and I will conceal My face (presence) on that day... There are times within history where the Ribbono Shel Olam, so to speak [K'veyachol], 'hides' His power and splendor from the world, concealing His involvement and influence. During these dark moments the world--and Mankind--is left to its own devices and choices, and the consequences are often disastrous. Many Gedolim and Jewish philosophers have tried to understand the Holocaust through the prism of Hester Panim. How does this inform our focus and intention during these auspicious Days of Awe?

One of the obstacles we face when attempting to 'return' to Hashem and strengthen our commitment to Torah and Mitzvot is the idea that factors beyond our control caused us to act in a manner K'negged Hashem, against G-d. After all, it seems everyone speaks Lashon Hara. It will be socially uncomfortable if I don't. Everyone cuts corners in business, talks during tefilah, compromises on integrity, etc.. The reality, of course, is that not everyone does these aveirot. They merely serve as excuses to remove responsibility off our shoulders. The concept of Hester Panim is Hashem telling us: Ein HaDavar Talui Elah Bi--the matter [of Teshuva, rectifying our faults] depends only on our choices. Hashem will not perform miracles to save us from ourselves. We must, inch by inch, move closer to Hashem, through Tefilla, Torah, and Mitzvot. As the Haftara tells us, "Kechu Imachem Devarim, V'Shuvu el Hashem."

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Yehuda Moses Rav HaKehillah/Senior Rabbi




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Fri, September 24 2021 18 Tishrei 5782