Note: The Shabbos Torah Reading is divided into 7 sections. Each section is called an Aliya [literally: Go up] since for each Aliya, one person “goes up” to make a bracha [blessing] on the Torah Reading.
It’s about time we stopped making excuses and took responsibility for who and what we are. It’s long overdue. Here we are at the threshold of a new-year and it’s all about being honest with ourselves. The degree of our commitment to Torah and Mitzvos will be in direct proportion to how many excuses we make for ourselves in avoiding commitment. The more the excuses, the less the commitment. As Moshe continued his final discourse, he confronted the primary excuses we all use in avoiding commitment and responsibility.
1st & 2nd Aliyot: Moshe presented the entire nation with the basis for our covenant with G-d. Starting with the promise to the forefathers and stretching across 500 years of history, our relationship with G-d had been substantiated through miracle after miracle. Yet, future generations might deny their personal obligation to continue the relationship and its attendant responsibilities. Therefore; Moshe made it absolutely clear that each generation is obligated to educate their children and train them to accept the covenant with G-d. Subsequent generation should not be able to excuse their responsibilities for Torah and Mitzvos due to ignorance.
3rd Aliya: The next excuse Moshe confronted was the modernization of Torah. In every generation there are those who see Torah as archaic and outdated. “Only by grafting new ideas and practices to the stale practices of Torah will Judaism continue to exist and flourish.” This excuse for changing Torah’s eternal truths will result in the compromise of Torah observance, our land, and our people.
4th & 5th Aliyot: As history will tragically prove, Moshe’s warnings would be ignored. Subsequent generations would wonder about the destruction and desolation and, in their search for answers, return to the uncompromised truths and practices of their forefathers.
6th Aliya: As a generation of Baalei Teshuva find their way back, many will beoverwhelmed by the seemingly inaccessibility of Torah knowledge. Moshe reassures us that Torah is accessible to all those who truly desire it. Ignorance and a lack of opportunity for learning should never be an excuse.
7th Aliya: Finally, Moshe presented the bottom line. Endowed with free will we must choose properly. In the end, we are responsible for what happens.
The 7th and final Haftorah of Consolation is from Yishaya 61:10 – 63:9. Coming before Rosh Hashana, this selection perfectly focuses us on the intended purpose of the High Holy Days.
We are dependent upon Hashem. He is the source of our protection, well being, and purpose. His constant love and attention is evident in the miracle of our survival and the strength of our limited numbers. As the Navi prepared the hope which allows us to place tragedy in perspective, we prepare ourselves to acknowledge Hashem’s providence through Tefilah and justice. There will soon come a time when we, as the Chosen People, will embrace the gift of G-d’s special attention. At that time the “…nations will see your righteousness and all the kings your glory…”
Glory and honor are the byproducts of devotion and commitment. Our responsibility in the coming days is to “…recount G-d’s mercies and praises…” Our goal is to acknowledge G-d and for G-d to proclaim “…Surely they are my people… (63:8)