Shabbat Shuvah & Parshat Vayelech & Yom Kippur

In this blog, we share some teachings from that were collated by Yeshivat Shlomo.

There are deep teachings about Hashem hiding his face, Unity and fixing our mistakes.

Parsha Insights -Vayelech - How to Walk into the Future - By Rav Ami Silver

Here we are, standing between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. We’re on the cusp of a new year filled with the promise of new beginnings. And we’re also facing so much uncertainty. Will it be a year of blessing or the opposite? Will we be inscribed in the book of חיים טובים, of good living? There’s so much that’s unknown, and a lot of the intensity of our prayers at this time of year have to do with begging Hashem to turn that unknown space into a year of goodness.

This week’s parsha, Veyelech, seems to meet us at a similar point, in between an old reality and a new one, and with the clouds of the unknown future looming. Moshe is in his final days, preparing the people to go on without him under Yehoshua’s leadership. The nation is standing at the border of Israel, waiting to finally enter the land after 40 years of waiting. And along with all of the blessings that Moshe assures them they’ll receive if they keep Hashem’s Torah, he also warns them about the terrible consequences they’re going to face, not if - but when - they abandon Hashem. Towards the end of the parsha, Hashem tells Moshe, “וְאָנֹכִ֗י הַסְתֵּ֨ר אַסְתִּ֤יר פָּנַי֙ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֔וּא עַ֥ל כָּל־הָרָעָ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר עָשָׂ֑ה כִּ֣י פָנָ֔ה אֶל־אֱלֹהִ֖ים אֲחֵרִֽים”, “And I will doubly hide My face on that day, on account of all the evil that they have done for they turned to other gods” (Devarim 31:18). It sounds so grim. At the end of the Torah, Hashem is telling us that we’re not going to keep it in the future and that Hashem will respond in kind by turning away from us. What are we supposed to do with this? How can we accept this fate? It seems like the Torah itself is leaving us with a doomsday sentence.

The next pasuk has an antidote: “וְעַתָּ֗ה כִּתְב֤וּ לָכֶם֙ אֶת־הַשִּׁירָ֣ה הַזֹּ֔את וְלַמְּדָ֥הּ אֶת־בְּנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל שִׂימָ֣הּ בְּפִיהֶ֑ם לְמַ֨עַן תִּהְיֶה־לִּ֜י הַשִּׁירָ֥ה הַזֹּ֛את לְעֵ֖ד בִּבְנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל”, “And now, write this song for yourselves and teach it to the Children of Israel, place it in their mouths, so that this song can be a testimony to me for the Children of Israel” (Devarim 31:19). It’s a bit cryptic: What song? What testimony? The Talmud (Sanhedrin 21b) learns from here that we each have a mitzvah to write a sefer Torah: “Rava said, even if a person’s ancestors left them a Torah scroll, each person is commanded to write their own, as it says, ‘and now write this song for yourselves’.”

It seems like this is part of the reparative path the Torah is laying out for us. We will face realities time and time again in which we grow distant from Hashem - from one generation to the next, from one life experience to the next, from one year to the next. The Torah tells us that this will happen. But the antidote it offers us is not to recover what we or previous generations had before. We’re given something much more profound: the task of writing our own sefer Torah. Despite what our ancestors left for us, despite what we received in the past, the passage of time requires us to write the Torah again, and to make it our own. וְעַתָּ֗ה - and now… כִּתְב֤וּ לָכֶם֙ - write for yourselves - אֶת־הַשִּׁירָ֣ה הַזֹּ֔את - this song. Turn the Torah into a song, into a creative expression that comes from within and gives voice to your relationship with Hashem in the here and now. Only then we will find our way back to stand face-to-face with our Creator.

This is the security we have as we enter into this this new year. It’s the security that Hashem is ready to hear our voices, to witness us become something new and unique, and to welcome our creativity and individual expression as we write the Book of Life - together.

Rav Sholom's Treasures

אוצר רב שלום

Parshas Vayeilech

When Hashem Hides His Face

"On that day I will surely hide My face because of all the evil that they have done in turning to alien gods." (Deuteronomy 31:18)

Have you ever felt alone, so alone that you think that even Hashem is hiding from you? Yes, it happens to us both as individuals and as a community. G-d often plays hide and seek with us.

I believe that it was the Kotzker Rebbe's grandson [and I have heard similar stories about other tzadikkim] who came in crying to his holy grandfather. "Why are you crying?" the Rebbe asked? And he answered, "I was playing hide and seek with my friends, and it has been a long time that I have been hiding, and they haven't found me."

"So why are you crying, isn't that the point of the game – to hide so well that you can't be found?"

"Yes, that's true, but they have stopped looking for me- that's why I'm crying."

And the Rebbe remarked with a deep sigh, "Imagine how Hashem must be feeling, He has been hiding for so long that so many of His children have stopped looking for Him."

Hashem hides, but only because He wants us to find Him. However sometimes he may be so upset with us that He hides His hiding. In other words, we may not even realize that He is hiding- and that's the worst because then we don't even know to look for Him.

The Baal Shem Tov taught that if only we would remember that Hashem is always present, even in the concealment, then the all the facades would readily disappear and we would not feel alone. We would realize that we are not alone. Like Rebbe Nachman taught, whenever you sincerely cry out to Hashem saying "AYEH?" -Hashem where is Your glory? I feel so alone- I'm finding myself in such a lowly and forsaken place, can it be true that You have forsaken me 'chas v'shalom'? Surely You are here- please do not conceal Yourself from me anymore. "I am seeking Your face!" –Hashem will hear you and will come to be close with you. He will not let you feel abandoned. He will show you that "His glory fills the entire world." Even in this most difficult and lonely place that you find yourself in, Hashem will reveal to you that He is there with you.

Often when we do tshuvah we forget to seek the closeness of Hashem. We think that we are so far away from Him, and maybe so for good reason. And maybe Hashem is hiding from us momentarily, to make us realize that there are things that we need to fix in order to be close to Him again. But, at the same time we must remember to 'mammash' truly ask Hashem to be close to Him; and we need to invite Hashem to be close to us, as we do our best to come close to Him. And not only that, we also need to trust that Hashem is nearby, always- right there in His concealment. We must never despair of His being close. We must never despair of seeking His ‘face’.

The Baal Shem Tov taught that if only we would remember that Hashem is always present, even in the concealment, then the all the facades would readily disappear and we would not feel alone. We would realize that we are not alone. Like Rebbe Nachman taught, whenever you sincerely cry out to Hashem saying "AYEH?" -Hashem where is Your glory? I feel so alone- I'm finding myself in such a lowly and forsaken place, can it be true that You have forsaken me 'chas v'shalom'? Surely You are here- please do not conceal Yourself from me anymore. "I am seeking Your face!" –Hashem will hear you and will come to be close with you. He will not let you feel abandoned. He will show you that "His glory fills the entire world." Even in this most difficult and lonely place that you find yourself in, Hashem will reveal to you that He is there with you.


In the Torah portion of Vayeilech, we learn the mitzvah of Hakhel-

"And Moshe commanded them saying: "… When all of [the people] Israel come to be seen in the presence of Hashem, in the place that He will choose, you shall read this Torah facing all of Yisrael for them to hear. Assemble ("Hakhel") the people, the men and the women and the little ones, and your convert who is in your towns, in order for them to hear and in order for them to learn to fear Hashem your G-d, and they will make sure to fulfill all the statements of this Torah. And their children who did not know will hear and will learn to fear Hashem your G-d, all the years that you are living on the land that you are crossing the Jordan, there to inherit it. (Deut. 31:10-13)

At the beginning of each new seven-year cycle, during the holiday of Sukkot, the king read certain sections of the book of Devarim before all the Jewish people, who were to assemble in the Beit Hamikdash. This commandment was known as Hakhel-gather together.

Just four days ago we concluded the ‘year of Hakhel’- 5776. The importance of this mitzvah cannot be underestimated in these present times; we absolutely cannot afford any further division amongst ourselves!

Daily we are suffering because of our lack of unity; and 'nebech' tragically there are so many many people who are suffering, that just about everyone knows someone, or knows someone who knows someone that is in mourning or that has been injured.

Everyone is wondering and asking: "what can i do to make things a lot better?" This mitzvah of Hakhel is most timely and vital to our needs and interests; please G-d, let us fulfill it completely and joyously. When we light Shabbos candles tonight, when we will welcome the Shabbos tonight, let us lovingly embrace all of Israel together. AMEN B'AHAVAH!

Reb Shlomo taught this Torah-le about Yom Kippur:

"What do we do when we make mistakes? You know what happens to us? Each time you make a mistake you begin to hate somebody you love, because you don’t want to be angry at yourself.

But I'll tell you something else. When you make a lot of mistakes then you don’t know any more what you really want because I need a big excuse why did I do it in the first place. You can’t understand anymore why you did what you did in the first place.

You know what happens to us on Yom Kippur? What is G-d cleaning us of? If G-d wants to just to forgive us he can do it any Wednesday and G-d really does forgive us on Wednesday.

You know what Yom Kippur is? That suddenly G-d cleans me so much that I realize I didn’t want to do the aveirah in the first place.

The question is, what do you really want? So, Yom Kippur is mamesh when G-d gives me the strength to cleanse myself from everything I don’t really want." ~a Reb Shlomo Torah excerpted from Rav Brodt's Yom Kippur Newsletter 2016

1977 or 1978, New York

Reb Shlomo's Torah

Vayelech, Hak’hel, Parents & Children, Yom Kippur, Neila, Succos…. Everything!

The Mei Hashiloach begins to talk about something very very deep.

There are two things going on with us human beings. There are certain mistakes which I make, we are talking about chas veshalom doing aveiras, that's one thing. But then there is something much deeper. Every person has something wrong with them inside. This is why we are here in this world, because if I would be complete than I wouldn't have to be in this world. So basically, this world is a hospital, this world is where I fix myself. The truth is that even after I fixed every aveira I did since I was born, I am still not fixed, because there is something deep deep inside of me which needs fixing.

I want you to open your hearts like mad. It says 'Vayelech Moshe', And Moshe went. And the Zohar Hakadosh says ‘Kegufa Belo Yada', like a body without hands. I'll give it you a nutshell, maybe not a hundred percent but approximately it's what it is. The Holy Ishbitzer asks what does it mean? The Holy Ishbitzer says like this. Right after it says Vayelech Moshe, it says that Moshe Rabbeinu told the yidden that every eighth year all the yidden should get together in Yerushalayim and mamesh learn Torah, this is called ‘Mitzvas Hak'hel’. All the yidden mamesh got together on the eighth year. When it comes to Mitzvas Hakhel it says, 'bring your children.' The Gemara asks why do you have to bring children, they don't understand what will be spoken there. But the Gemara says ‘Liten Sachar Lemivieihen’, a person was to bring their children in order so that the children would cause their parents to receive a reward for bringing them.

Now open your hearts.

There is a Torah which I understand with my head, when something makes sense to me. Then there is a Torah that has to do with my hands, I do this and I do that. But my hands have two functions, my hands down below represent what I'm doing. But imagine if I am holding up my hands, what am I doing? When I hold up my hands, I am reaching for something which I don't have yet, I am longing for something which I don't even know how to get. So, the Ishbitzer says like this. Can you imagine what Moshe Rabbeinu was longing for with his hands? You know what happened, on that day he mamesh reached that point of getting to where he always longed to get to. Wherever he was holding up his hands, that's where he reached.

There is a level which I did wrong, I did an aveira, and I can fix it by doing tshuvah. What about that part of me that needs fixing, which is so deep, that which is beyond me? Dovid Hamalech says ‘Becheit Yechematna Imi’. We are talking about a part of me that was created like this, the way I was born, there is something inside which needs completion. Where do I reach that? I only reach that when I hold up my hands. That's a different Torah. So, I want you to know the deepest depths. When was Moshe Rabbeinu given the Torah of the hands? Throughout his life, Moshe Rabbeinu taught the yidden how to fix everything they did wrong, but how about the things they didn't do anything wrong on a practical level? We were born this way, you gotta fix it.

Now listen to this unbelievable thing. When we take out the Torah and we put it on the table, we don't say 'Vezos HaTorah Asher Sam Moshe'. Do you know when we start yelling 'Vezos HaTorah Asher Sam Moshe'? This is the Torah which G-d gave us? When we are holding up the Torah with our hands. Only when we lift our hands up do we say, ‘This is the Torah which Moshe brought down from heaven’. The Torah which Moshe Rabbeinu brought down from heaven is that you can even fix that thing which is embodied in you. The holiness of the Torah is that you can fix that.

Now listen, just open your hearts. The Ishbitser says a mind-blowing Torah…mamesh a rebbeshe Torah. He says what do parents worry most about their children. Not so much about the mistakes they will make, because I know they will make mistakes and they will fix it. But I'm worried most about this one little thing which is wrong with them. How would I fix that, how will I fix that? So, he says a gevalt Torah. On the eighth year, when everybody carried their children in their hands, what level of hands were they holding them? Are the hands on the level of doing something or are the hands on the level of mamesh reaching to the highest depth? When I am carrying my children to Hak’hel this is the Torah of holding up my hands to heaven. So, he says 'Liten Schar Lemiviehen', what kind of a reward? I was given the reward that I can fix my children and I can fix myself. So how do I fix myself? When I carry my children. Unbelievable Torah, mamesh a Torah from heaven. So, he says that on the eight year, when yidden would carry their children up to Yerushalayim, the Torah of Hak'hel is not the Torah of what you did wrong. The Torah of Hak'hel is getting all the yidden together, and this is the Torah which Moshe Rabbeinu left us before he left this world, the Torah of how to fix that which can't be fixed. It's unbelievable.

This is what was given to us in Vayelech.

Okay, now I thought of something very deep.

Now listen to this sweetest friends. On Yom Kippur I am doing tshuva. I want you to know something very deep. I can tell one of my friends what I did wrong, and they will help me fix it. i can go to a rebbe and tell him I did this wrong, I want to do tshuva. The question is, whom can I tell that one thing which is wrong with me? I want you to know the deepest depths. I can't even tell G-d unless I lock the door and I want to be alone with G-d. I am afraid to even tell G-d. So, you know what the last prayer of Neila is? Neila is when I lock the door and I am pouring out my heart and I am telling G-d 'you know something, this is all nothing. Yom Kippur is beautiful and cute, but I want you to fix that one thing which is so deep that only you can fix it.'

Now listen to the deepest depths, again you have to open your hearts very wide. There are two kinds of prayers. There is a prayer I am praying for sometimes, and then there is a prayer which I am praying for all the time, mamesh all the time. Obviously, this prayer which I pray to G-d to fix the mistakes I made I am not praying all the time. Sometimes I make mistakes, sometimes I fix them. What am I praying for constantly? That one thing which needs fixing inside, it's beyond me, I don't know what to do with it, it's beyond me.

This is Achas Sha’alti Me’eis Hashem… that one thing which I constantly pray for.

What's a house? In Ishbits it's very strong. Ki Beisi Beis Tefila. That prayer which I constantly pray for is called a house, a house is constant. Friends, let me ask you, do you know what it means that the Holy Temple is destroyed? We still pray, but we don't pray anymore to fix the deepest depths. We only pray for the little outside things. The Beis Hamikdash is a place where you fix this deepest depths there is. I want you to know that Moshe Rabbeinu basically is the Master of the Torah what to do. Ahron Hakohen... how come Ahron Hakohen is blessing with his hands, what's so special about his hands? Ahron is the Master of the hands. Ahron Hakohen, his thing is how to teach yidden how to hold up their hands. So therefor he has the holiness of how to bless in his hands. Everybody knows that the Beis Hamikdash is the house of Ahron Hakohen.

Now listen to this deepest depths. Everybody knows that the Succa is Ahron Hakohen's house, annanei hakavod, the clouds of glory. Without even getting involved in the deepest depths. The Succa is Ahron Hakohen's house. You know what we do? The Ishbitser says, the only one who is mamesh praying like mad that I should fix that which is so deep are my parents. Who are my parents, who are your parents? Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya'akov, Moshe Ahron, Yosef Dovid. The guests of the Succa. So, you know what it is? On Yom Kippur I realize that throughout the year? I was always praying for the little mistakes I did, I was waiting to do tshuva for the little things. Why didn't I pray for that which I have to pray for all the time, for the real fixing? And now I want you to go one step deeper. What does it mean that all of Israel is in exile? All of Israel in exile means that we are praying for little things, we stopped praying for the big things. Being in exile means that we stopped praying that Mashiach should come. I cannot bring Mashiach, you know why? Because Mashiach's fixing is that fixing where my actions don't reach, my actions don't reach there. It’s something deeper than all this.

You know what it says? Vehesihiv Lev Avos Al Banim Velev Banim Al avosam. When Eliyahu Hanavi is coming he will bring the parents and the children of the parents. Mamesh, now it's so clear, because the Ishbitzer says that the only one who can fix this inside of children is when parents carry them. And they in return fix their parents. So, this is what Eliyahu Hanavi is doing before Mashiach is coming, the fixing between the children and the parents.

So, this is the whole thing of the being in the Succa after Neila, after I lock myself and I tell G-d everything which is wrong with me, not this little things I made mistakes, that I fixed already by Mincha. By Neila I am mamesh taking G-d inside of me to that place, which is locked all year long, I'm afraid to open it. So, then I make a little Succa'le, and there my parents come, Avraham, Yitzchak, and Ya'akov, and they mamesh carry me into the Succa. So, I want to add that not only Avraham Avinu comes to the Succa while I am sitting there, but mamesh Avraham Avinu carries me into the Succa, because how are parents fixing their children? By carrying them. What do we do with the lulav? Mamesh, the whole thing is holding up the hands. shukling, the hands, unbelievable. The whole thing about succos and the succa is the hands. I am holding up my hands, putting up the Schach. Everything is holding up the hands higher than myself. And then, the end is Simchas Torah when mamesh I see that the Ribbono Shel Olam put everything in the Torah. Suddenly I realize this is mamesh the Torah which is fixing myself. What am I doing? I don't open the Torah, because that Torah which is fixing my deepest depths is not the words of the Torah, but it’s the whole Torah itself, mamesh the whole Torah.

I want you to know something, between people it's also very deep. Sometimes I love somebody very much on a detail level. I am filling certain needs a person; I am doing them certain favours. Sometime a husband and wife fill each other's certain needs, but then... then they cannot fix that which is missing. But if it's beyond words, beyond everything there is like this Torah, Vezos HaTorah Asher Sam Moshe, the Torah of when you are holding up your hands, this has no words because it's everything together. This is the Torah of Simchas Torah. And it's unbelievable how on Simchas Torah every father and mother bring their children to shul. They mamesh carry their children because they know that this is the only way to fix it, they know it's the only way to fix it.

Shabbat Shalom

And Gmar Chatima Tova