The Weekly D'rash and the Scriptures that we will be reading this Shabbat for Nitzavim Vayeilech from Rabbi Howard Silverman:
TORAH ~ Deuteronomy 29:1-31:30
HAFTARAH ~ Isaiah 61:10-63:9
BRIT CHADASHA ~ Matthew 7:24-29
The Torah is the story of humanity. We read about the significance and calling of humanity, and the role of Israel in manifesting the blessing of God to the nations. Toward the end of Deuteronomy, we read about the future—how Israel would rebel and eventually return to the Lord. The result would be the blessing of the nations. Chapters 29–30 serve as a covenant renewal but also as a covenant ratification. That is because in some ways it is a new covenant which ensures that in the end God would cause the people to be faithful. This is in fact the first description of what we call the "New Covenant".
Chapter 29 is a description of the covenant, but most of the chapter is a warning against disobedience. Chapter 30 assures the people that even though there will be judgment for rebellion, there will be a repentance and return to the Lord. But in between the description of the judgment and the good news of a future repentance, as well as a circumcised heart, is a verse that is a kind of proverb or commentary. It is a verse that does not actually have to be there, but it serves as a hinge between the judgment and restoration.
Deut 29:29, "The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law".
While many traditional rabbinic interpretations focus on secret sins of Israel, may I suggest that the verse is answering an anticipated question. How could the Chosen People who have an unconditional relationship with God suffer such great difficulty? Another way of asking this question might be, "If we are part of the called-out ones, why is such great suffering happening to me"? But still a haunting question that people may ask is, "Why did there have to be a judgment like this"? From the perspective of Moses, future generations will read this and verse 29 encourages those future generations to remember that some things are concealed.
Today, we may wonder what God is doing in my life or in this world. God does not reveal everything to us. I am not saying that all the bad things that happen are a judgment from God. But whenever we cry out to God, we should always remember that God does not always tell us the 'why'! However, He does tell us how we should respond. We should always respond with what He has told us. That is to walk in the way of the Lord.
This reminds me of Luke 13:1–5. Yeshua is asked why certain people died because of persecution and others because of a seemingly random tragedy. Yeshua never answers the "Why them?" question. But He does tell them what they should do. He tells them to repent. This is another way of stating Deuteronomy 29:29. The secret things belong to God, but He has told us how to respond. When we look around at our world, perhaps this would be good response for us. During this season of a spiritual evaluation of our lives, may we be people of repentance who know that God does forgive and bring healing and restoration in Yeshua Messiah. May this for us be a season of return and restoration!
TORAH READING: DEUTERONOMY 29:1 – 31:30
29:10 "You stand today, all of you, before the L-RD your G-d: your chiefs, your tribes, your elders and your officers, even all the men of Israel,
11 your little ones, your wives, and the alien who is within your camps, from the one who chops your wood to the one who draws your water,
12 that you may enter into the covenant with the L-RD your G-d, and into His oath which the L-RD your G-d is making with you today,
13 in order that He may establish you today as His people and that He may be your G-d, just as He spoke to you and as He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
14 "Now not with you alone am I making this covenant and this oath,
15 but both with those who stand here with us today in the presence of the L-RD our G-d and with those who are not with us here today
16 (for you know how we lived in the land of Egypt, and how we came through the midst of the nations through which you passed;
17 moreover, you have seen their abominations and their idols of wood, stone, silver, and gold, which they had with them);
18 so that there will not be among you a man or woman, or family or tribe, whose heart turns away today from the L-RD our G-d, to go and serve the gods of those nations; that there will not be among you a root bearing poisonous fruit and wormwood.
19 "It shall be when he hears the words of this curse, that he will boast, saying, 'I have peace though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart in order to destroy the watered land with the dry.'
20 "The L-RD shall never be willing to forgive him, but rather the anger of the L-RD and His jealousy will burn against that man, and every curse which is written in this book will rest on him, and the L-RD will blot out his name from under heaven.
21 "Then the L-RD will single him out for adversity from all the tribes of Israel, according to all the curses of the covenant which are written in this book of the law.
22 "Now the generation to come, your sons who rise up after you and the foreigner who comes from a distant land, when they see the plagues of the land and the diseases with which the L-RD has afflicted it, will say,
23 'All its land is brimstone and salt, a burning waste, unsown and unproductive, and no grass grows in it, like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, which the L-RD overthrew in His anger and in His wrath.'
24 "All the nations will say, 'Why has the L-RD done thus to this land? Why this great outburst of anger?'
25 "Then men will say, 'Because they forsook the covenant of the L-RD, the G-d of their fathers, which He made with them when He brought them out of the land of Egypt.
26 'They went and served other G-ds and worshiped them, G-ds whom they have not known and whom He had not allotted to them.
27 'Therefore, the anger of the L-RD burned against that land, to bring upon it every curse which is written in this book;
28 and the L-RD uprooted them from their land in anger and in fury and in great wrath, and cast them into another land, as it is this day.'
29 "The secret things belong to the L-RD our G-d, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.
30:1 "So it shall be when all of these things have come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind in all nations where the L-RD your G-d has banished you,
2 and you return to the L-RD your G-d and obey Him with all your heart and soul according to all that I command you today, you and your sons,
3 then the L-RD your G-d will restore you from captivity, and have compassion on you, and will gather you again from all the peoples where the L-RD your G-d has scattered you.
4 "If your outcasts are at the ends of the earth, from there the L-RD your G-d will gather you, and from there He will bring you back.
5 "The L-RD your G-d will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers.
6 "Moreover the L-RD your G-d will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the L-RD your G-d with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live.
7 "The L-RD your G-d will inflict all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you, who persecuted you.
8 "And you shall again obey the L-RD, and observe all His commandments which I command you today.
9 "Then the L-RD your G-d will prosper you abundantly in all the work of your hand, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your cattle and in the produce of your ground, for the L-RD will again rejoice over you for good, just as He rejoiced over your fathers;
10 if you obey the L-RD your G-d to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this book of the law, if you turn to the L-RD your G-d with all your heart and soul.
11 "For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach.
12 "It is not in heaven, that you should say, 'Who will go up to heaven for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?'
13 "Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, 'Who will cross the sea for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?'
14 "But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it.
15 "See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity;
16 in that I command you today to love the L-RD your G-d, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the L-RD your G-d may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it.
17 "But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them,
18 I declare to you today that you shall surely perish. You will not prolong your days in the land where you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess it.
19 "I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants,
20 by loving the L-RD your G-d, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the L-RD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them."
31:1 So Moses went and spoke these words to all Israel.
2 And he said to them, "I am a hundred and twenty years old today; I am no longer able to come and go, and the L-RD has said to me, 'You shall not cross this Jordan.'
3 "It is the L-RD your G-d who will cross ahead of you; He will destroy these nations before you, and you shall dispossess them. Joshua is the one who will cross ahead of you, just as the L-RD has spoken.
4 "The L-RD will do to them just as He did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, and to their land, when He destroyed them.
5 "The L-RD will deliver them up before you, and you shall do to them according to all the commandments which I have commanded you.
6 "Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the L-RD your G-d is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you."
7 Then Moses called to Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, "Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land which the L-RD has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall give it to them as an inheritance.
8 "The L-RD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed."
9 So Moses wrote this law and gave it to the priests, the sons of Levi who carried the ark of the covenant of the L-RD, and to all the elders of Israel.
10 Then Moses commanded them, saying, "At the end of every seven years, at the time of the year of remission of debts, at the Feast of Booths,
11 when all Israel comes to appear before the L-RD your G-d at the place which He will choose, you shall read this law in front of all Israel in their hearing.
12 "Assemble the people, the men and the women and children and the alien who is in your town, so that they may hear and learn and fear the L-RD your G-d, and be careful to observe all the words of this law.
13 "Their children, who have not known, will hear and learn to fear the L-RD your G-d, as long as you live on the land which you are about to cross the Jordan to possess."
14 Then the L-RD said to Moses, "Behold, the time for you to die is near; call Joshua, and present yourselves at the tent of meeting, that I may commission him." So Moses and Joshua went and presented themselves at the tent of meeting.
15 The L-RD appeared in the tent in a pillar of cloud, and the pillar of cloud stood at the doorway of the tent.
16 The L-RD said to Moses, "Behold, you are about to lie down with your fathers; and this people will arise and play the harlot with the strange gods of the land, into the midst of which they are going, and will forsake Me and break My covenant which I have made with them.
17 "Then My anger will be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them and hide My face from them, and they will be consumed, and many evils and troubles will come upon them; so that they will say in that day, 'Is it not because our G-d is not among us that these evils have come upon us?'
18 "But I will surely hide My face in that day because of all the evil which they will do, for they will turn to other gods.
19 "Now therefore, write this song for yourselves, and teach it to the sons of Israel; put it on their lips, so that this song may be a witness for Me against the sons of Israel.
20 "For when I bring them into the land flowing with milk and honey, which I swore to their fathers, and they have eaten and are satisfied and become prosperous, then they will turn to other gods and serve them, and spurn Me and break My covenant.
21 "Then it shall come about, when many evils and troubles have come upon them, that this song will testify before them as a witness (for it shall not be forgotten from the lips of their descendants); for I know their intent which they are developing today, before I have brought them into the land which I swore."
22 So Moses wrote this song the same day, and taught it to the sons of Israel.
23 Then He commissioned Joshua the son of Nun, and said, "Be strong and courageous, for you shall bring the sons of Israel into the land which I swore to them, and I will be with you."
24 It came about, when Moses finished writing the words of this law in a book until they were complete,
25 that Moses commanded the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the L-RD, saying,
26 "Take this book of the law and place it beside the ark of the covenant of the L-RD your G-d, that it may remain there as a witness against you.
27 "For I know your rebellion and your stubbornness; behold, while I am still alive with you today, you have been rebellious against the L-RD; how much more, then, after my death?
28 "Assemble to me all the elders of your tribes and your officers, that I may speak these words in their hearing and call the heavens and the earth to witness against them.
29 "For I know that after my death you will act corruptly and turn from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days, for you will do that which is evil in the sight of the L-RD, provoking Him to anger with the work of your hands."
30 Then Moses spoke in the hearing of all the assembly of Israel the words of this song, until they were complete:
HAFTARAH READING: ISAIAH 61:10 – 63:9
61:10 I will rejoice greatly in the L-RD, My soul will exult in my G-d; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, And as a garden causes the things sown in it to spring up, So the L-RD G-D will cause righteousness and praise To spring up before all the nations.
62:1 For Zion's sake I will not keep silent, And for Jerusalem's sake I will not keep quiet, Until her righteousness goes forth like brightness, And her salvation like a torch that is burning.
2 The nations will see your righteousness, And all kings your glory; And you will be called by a new name Which the mouth of the L-RD will designate.
3 You will also be a crown of beauty in the hand of the L-RD, And a royal diadem in the hand of your G-d.
4 It will no longer be said to you, "Forsaken," Nor to your land will it any longer be said, "Desolate"; But you will be called, "My delight is in her," And your land, "Married"; For the L-RD delights in you, And to Him your land will be married.
5 For as a young man marries a virgin, So your sons will marry you; And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, So your G-d will rejoice over you.
6 On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen; All day and all night they will never keep silent. You who remind the L-RD, take no rest for yourselves;
7 And give Him no rest until He establishes And makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.
8 The L-RD has sworn by His right hand and by His strong arm, "I will never again give your grain as food for your enemies; Nor will foreigners drink your new wine for which you have labored."
9 But those who garner it will eat it and praise the L-RD; And those who gather it will drink it in the courts of My sanctuary.
10 Go through, go through the gates, Clear the way for the people; Build up, build up the highway, Remove the stones, lift up a standard over the peoples.
11 Behold, the L-RD has proclaimed to the end of the earth, Say to the daughter of Zion, "Lo, your salvation comes; Behold His reward is with Him, and His recompense before Him."
12 And they will call them, "The holy people, The redeemed of the L-RD"; And you will be called, "Sought out, a city not forsaken."
63:1 Who is this who comes from Edom, With garments of glowing colors from Bozrah, This One who is majestic in His apparel, Marching in the greatness of His strength? "It is I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save."
2 Why is Your apparel red, And Your garments like the one who treads in the wine press?
3 "I have trodden the wine trough alone, And from the peoples there was no man with Me. I also trod them in My anger And trampled them in My wrath; And their lifeblood is sprinkled on My garments, And I stained all My raiment.
4 "For the day of vengeance was in My heart, And My year of redemption has come.
5 "I looked, and there was no one to help, And I was astonished and there was no one to uphold; So My own arm brought salvation to Me, And My wrath upheld Me.
6 "I trod down the peoples in My anger And made them drunk in My wrath, And I poured out their lifeblood on the earth."
7 I shall make mention of the lovingkindnesses of the L-RD, the praises of the L-RD, According to all that the L-RD has granted us, And the great goodness toward the house of Israel, Which He has granted them according to His compassion And according to the abundance of His lovingkindnesses.
8 For He said, "Surely, they are My people, Sons who will not deal falsely." So He became their Savior.
9 In all their affliction He was afflicted, And the angel of His presence saved them; In His love and in His mercy He redeemed them, And He lifted them and carried them all the days of old.
B’RIT CHADASHAH READING: MATTHEW 7:24-29
7:24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.
25 “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.
26 “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.
27 “The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”
28 When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching;
29 for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.