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L'chaim (To Your Lives)

Many essential Torah concepts are restated in Parshiot Nitzavim-Vayelech (Deut. 29:9–31:30). They are teachings about Free Will, as well as the potential for a Torah life and the power of Spoken Prayer.("It is not in heaven but in your heart and mouth"). Moses was the prime example for such a life as he stood before the multitudes.


The future Redemption was also promised. To some observers, the very early stages of the Geulah (Redemption) were initiated in 1948 with the establishment of the modern State of Israel. It should be noted that in this week's Torah portion, we read the 5708th verse in the Torah, which is Deut. 30:5: “Your God, will bring you to the land which your forefathers possessed, and you will take possession of it, and He will do good to you, and He will make you more numerous than your forefathers.”


5708 on the Hebrew Calendar is the year 1948.


Much like those taking an oath of citizenship, the people stood before God who sealed the covenant made at Sinai, establishing them for all time as His Holy Nation. The key to their survival is that they stand as they did that day: Together. This is another essential Torah concept, Jewish Unity. It is so essential that the Jewish people and humanity cannot survive without it.


Moses tells Israel that he has reached the age of 120 years and that he “No longer can go out or come in.” He is not speaking of failing health, rather he is referring to having lived, fully in service to Hashem and able to complete his life’s mission. Moses passed away on his birthday and there is an idea that a true tzaddik dies the same date as their birth. You may recall another 120 year lifespan mentioned earlier, in Genesis 6:3 wherein HaShem states, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” Since this 120 years is mentioned just prior to the Mabbul (Flood of Noach), some misconstrue this to mean that God would limit the life span of humanity to just 120 years. That can’t be true since many Torah figures, born after the Mabbul lived much longer. For example, Avraham passed away at 175, while his son Issac died at 123. Jacob died at 147. These are but a few of those who lived well beyond 120. The Talmud (Sotah 13b:16) teaches that Moses says, on this day (of his death) he has completed precisely one hundred and twenty years, in order to teach us that this completes the years of the righteous from day to day and from month to month, as it is written: “The number of your days I will fill” (Exodus 23:26), indicating that the righteous will live out their years fully. As previously mentioned in Gen. 6:3, the Creator said, “My spirit will not strive with man forever…’ which hints at something else that occurred the final day of Moses. The Medieval Jewish commentator Moses ben Nachman (aka the Ramban) reveals that, “Our Rabbis have said: “This teaches us that the well-springs of wisdom were stopped for Moses.” This was a miraculous event in order that Moses should not be troubled about the transfer of leadership to Joshua] and HaShem bestowing honor upon Joshua in Moses’ presence."


As we approach Rosh HaShana, we should recall the 120 years in Genesis 6:3, the time humanity was allotted to repent before the waters of the Mabbul covered the earth. Baruch HaShem, Noach and his family were protected from this fate by being sealed up the Tevah (ark). With HaShem’s help, we will be sealed for the coming year, protected from any calamities, so each of us can complete our unique God-given mission here on earth.


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