Thursday, September 20, 2012

VaYeilech - The Immortality of the Jewish People

Towards the end of Parshas VaYeilech God testifies that, no matter far the Jewish people may drift from the proper obedience of God’s will, the Jewish people will never forget the Torah (Deuteronomy 31:21):

כי לא תשכח מפי זרעו
“For [the Torah] will not be forgotten from [the Jewish nation’s] descendants”

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch writes that “these words show us the secret of [the Jewish people’s] national immortality and of its ultimately fulfilling its mission. However deep its fall may be, and however far away its sin may take it, one thing remains throughout all the changes of its existence, one thing accompanies it through the darkest paths of its sufferings, and that is: - the Torah.”

God assures us that no matter how far we may stray, no matter how deep the exile may become, the Torah will always be with us. As Rabbeinu Gershom (d.1028) wrote (in Selicha 42, recited Erev Rosh HaShana and in the selichos of Neila on Yom Kippur):

The Holy City and its regions     העיר הקדש והמחוזות
Are turned to shame and to spoils     היו לחרפה ולבזות
And all its desirable things are buried and hidden     וכל מחמדיה טבועות וגנוזות
And nothing is left except this Torah.     ואין שיור רק התורה הזאת

Throughout history, every time that it appeared as if the Torah would be erased from human memory, whether by Greeks, Romans, Crusaders, Inquisitors, Cossacks, Nazis, or Communists – the Torah always rose once again to flourish and grow in its pure and unadulterated form. This is a vivid testimony to God’s control over the history of the world.

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