Vayelech: Returning where we belong (II)

In this portion, Moses prepares to present a song as a reminder and remembrance about God’s goodness, to be lived as such. The verse suggests that the song is an imprinted message in the genetic memory of the children of Israel and their descendants for eternity.

“Then it shall come to pass, when many evils and troubles are come upon them, that this song shall testify before them as a witness; for it shall not be forgotten out of the mouths of their seed; for I know their imagination how they do even now, before I have brought them into the land which I swore.” (Deuteronomy 31:21)

The song’s essential message is to bring our awareness to the principle of cause and effect; in order to distinguish the goodness in the blessings, and the evil in the curses. God wants us to have a better understanding that every choice we make has consequences, either positive or negative.

Hence the repeated warning against going after our imagination, the playground of ego’s materialistic fantasies and illusions. These are the earth, the wood, the cooper, the silver and gold with which we molten idols to follow and serve, either be attachments, obsessions or addictions.

“For I know that after my death you will in any wise deal corruptly, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you. And evil will befall you in the end of day, because you will do that which is evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him through the work of your hands.” (31:29)

This verse, like most in the book of Deuteronomy, contains prophetic clues for us to understand further where our choices take us. The “end of the day” can be read, either rhetorically or prophetically. Either as “at the end of the day…”, and “after all we have done…”; or “at the end of the current dual consciousness, we human have…”, and “in the end of times…”. The latter suggest that, in the constant and repeated mindset of negative trends, one only builds up more evil and less good.

“In the end evil will befall you” sounds like an unbearable burden to carry. We have seen in our times that evil has been reinforced in new unexpected forms in the world, where humankind lives under wicked manipulations that move people to act in irrational ways.

It seems that common sense, positive expressions and kindness are disappearing, to be replaced by senseless violent behavior, conflicts and divisions, and uncalled for hatred. These point out to new forms of antisemitism, which only purpose is to destroy what Israel is and represents for the world.

This song is the permanent reminder that goodness is the essence of our true identity, by which we bring what life needs, in order to maintain the dignity and sacredness that God infused in it, for He is sacred.

In the haftarah for this portion, our Hebrew prophets reiterate goodness as our reason and purpose.

“Take with you words, and return to the Lord. Say to Him, ‘Forgive all iniquity, and accept that which is goodness; so will we render for bullocks the offering of our lips [our praises].” (Hosea 14:3)

“And you shall eat in plenty and be satisfied [with goodness], and shall praise the Name of the Lord your God, that has dealt wondrously [in goodness] with you. And My people shall never be ashamed.” (Joel 2:26)

“He will again have compassion [goodness] on us, He will subdue our iniquities. And You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7:19)

About the Author
Ariel Ben Avraham was born in Colombia (1958) from a family with Sephardic ancestry. He studied Cultural Anthropology in Bogota, and lived twenty years in Chicago working as a radio and television producer and writer. He emigrated to Israel in 2004, and for the last fourteen years has been studying the Chassidic mystic tradition, about which he writes and teaches. Based on his studies, he wrote his first book "God's Love" in 2009. He currently lives in Zefat.
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