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The Destiny of the Jewish People is Guided by Hashem's Providence - Parashat VaYelech 5780 - October 4, 2019


This week, we read parashat VaYelech. Parashat VaYelech records some of the final words that Moshe conveyed to the Jewish People prior to his demise. At the end of these comments, Hashem shares a prophecy with Moshe in the presence of his successor, Yehoshua.

Hashem said, “Behold, you will lie with your fathers, and this nation will rise up and stray after the gods of the foreigners of the Land, in the midst of which the nation is entering. And the nation will leave Me and annul My covenant that I have sealed with it. My anger will flare against the nation on that day and I will leave them; and I will conceal My face from them and they will become prey and many evils and distresses will encounter it. (The nation) will say on that day, ‘It is not because my G-d is not in my midst that these evils have come upon me?’ But I will surely have concealed My face on that day because of all the evil that it did, for it had turned to gods of others.”

Rabbi Ovadiah Seforno discusses this passage. He explains that when Hashem hides His face from The Jewish People, He does so primarily because they do not turn to Hashem with prayers and repentance at once in times of trouble. Instead, they attribute their trouble to natural, political or economic causes and, as a consequence, they look to natural or man-devised remedies for their deliverance. They “turn to other gods,” to means of deliverance other than those which would bring them Divine assistance. “Had they turned to Me to begin with,” says Hashem, “I would never have hidden My face from them.” (Translation by A. Friedman)

In this explanation, Seforno is outlining a very important perspective – one that is incumbent upon us to impart to our children. It is a perspective to which, as children born of children raised in the 
galut, we are often less sensitive.
The destiny of the Jewish People is guided by Hashem’s Providence. Blessings that are bestowed upon our nation or calamities, chas veshalom, that befall our people are a consequence of this Providence. The fate of other nations and peoples are tied up primarily with natural, political and economic forces. The fate of The Jewish People is different – it is tied to the closeness of our relationship with the Almighty. Through prayer, we ask Hashem to intervene and ensure beneficial outcomes. Through repentance, we look introspectively as individuals and as a nation and restore our commitment to proper actions and attitudes.

For the Jewish People, natural, political and economic problems are symptoms of moral, ethical and 
halachic shortcomings. The solution to these problems is to renew our relationship with Hashem. On this Shabbat Shuva, may we redouble our efforts to engage in teshuva and to prepare for the imminent Yom HaKippurim.


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