Weekly Pre-Shabbos D’var Torah from Rabbi Gutstein

D’Var Torah:

In the Parsha of Vayeilech – the second Parsha that we read this week – Moshe addresses the Jewish people on his final day in this world. He tells the Jewish people “I am 120 years old today, I can no longer go and come with you . . . Yehoshua will lead you.”

Rashi explains the phrase “I can no longer go and come with you” that the fountains of wisdom were closed from Moshe. What does that mean? He could not learn any more? How is that possible?

The 3rd Gerer Rebbe – Rabbi Avraham Mordechai Alter – explains that Moshe Rabbeinu had attained the highest level of spirituality possible for a human being. But, he was so great that he could no longer communicate effectively with the people. He was too much above their level. Therefore, G-d said that Moshe could no longer lead the Jewish people and Yehoshua must take over the reigns of leadership.

This is an important lesson for the Jewish people and for leadership in general. In order to be affective, leadership must be in line with the people. Leadership must understand the people it wishes to lead and be responsive to the people. In Jewish life, we find several examples of the necessity of leadership to be in touch with the people.

The Talmud relates that Rabbi Meir was the greatest of the Rabbis during the period of the Mishna. Yet, whenever another rabbi disputes Rabbi Meir’s halachik rulings, the halacha usually follows the other rabbi and not Rabbi Meir. The Talmud explains that Rabbi Meir was too much above everybody else. His explanation and understanding of the halacha was beyond most people and we must be able to understand Halacha.

In the 18th century, there were many great Torah scholars. Many of them are not well-known because that was also the period of the Vilna Gaon. Yet, the halacha usually does not follow the opinion of the Vilna Gaon. The main halachik authority during the 18th century was Rabbi Yechezkel Landau of Prague – better known as the “Noda B’Yehuda”. Why was this? The Gaon was beyond the understanding of almost everybody else.

We are all standing today – every single person – in front of G-d – on the doorstep of Rosh Hashana 5775. It is difficult to understand what is happening in the world. It is a three- ring circus and we don’t know which one is the main act. Nobody knows what the new year will bring. G-d is serving us a full plate. We worry about Israel and the threat from the wicked monsters of Iran, Hamas, ISIS, the unrest in Syria, the economy, crime, morality or lack thereof, family, friends, and on and on.

Just because we don’t understand it, does not mean that we ignore it. The Jewish have made it this far because of G-d’s promise to us that we will always be around. During the High Holiday season, we have an opportunity to continue to build the Jewish people and accomplish so much positive benefit for the Jewish people and society with the numerous opportunities to daven, give tzedaka, do chesed and build relationships. Let us take advantage of the opportunity –donate time to the Jewish people and Jewish causes – and may G-d bless us all with a year of health and happiness.