Sedra of the week: Vaetchanan

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Sedra of the week: Vaetchanan

Borehamwood and Elstree United Synagogue's Rabbi Alex Chapper looks ahead to this week's portion of the torah

It would be easy to conclude that a sedra containing the Ten Commandments is all about laws. But that would be too simplistic an analysis, because if we look more carefully, we notice it is in fact about something far more important and life-changing than that.

It is about relationships and, specifically, our relationship and connection to God.

To understand this, we just need to review the opening statement of the Ten Commandments: “I am Hashem your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, the house of slavery.”

The commentaries ask why it specifically refers to the Exodus from Egypt.  Does God not have an even greater entry on His CV? Did He not create the entire universe ex nihilo?

Chizkuni [Hezekiah ben Manoah] explains that the Exodus is a unique event, not just in history, but in God’s relationship with the Jewish people, because it was the moment we became God’s people.   

At the same time, we know that for relationships to be successful, they have to be reciprocal.  

That is why, although Moses foresaw our eventual exile from the Land of Israel, he was not a prophet of doom, because he also left us with an inspiring message of hope.  

Few in number and scattered among other nations, “from there you will seek God, your God, and you will find Him, for you will seek Him with all your heart and all your soul”.

It is clear from Moses’ words that the key to finding our way back to God is for our search to be done with all our heart and all our soul. 

The Zohar sums up this idea with the phrase: Rachamana liba ba’ei – God desires the heart.

To consign the Torah as just a book of rules is to misread it.

The Torah is, in fact, a sustained tutorial on the importance of relationships.

  •  Rabbi Alex Chapper serves Borehamwood and Elstree United Synagogue
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