Judaism: The Mitzvah of Hakhel
Moshe BurtMoshe Burt is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of the Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
Parsha Vayeilech comes to speak at length about the Mitzvah of Hakhel — the communal gathering which took place every seven years; that is at the beginning of the year following the end of the Sh’mittah year and where Sefer Devarim is read through to the end of Shema, the second paragraph and through to Perek 28, posuk 69 which is in Parshat Ki Tavo.
The Hakhel is a Mitzvah dating back to Moshe Rabbeinu’s mussar talk on the last day of his life when he convened the entire nation; men, women and children — from the wealthiest to the most itinerant woodchopper, to the Ger;
…So that they may hear and so that they may learn and fear Hashem and guard to do all the words of Torah. (Sefer Devarim, Perek 31, posuk 12)
The concept of the Hakhel which this author learned back in Philadelphia, back in the “Old Country,” was that even infants, those not even yet cognizant of language would be touched by this communal gathering and be affected by the enunciation of Halachot. The Artscroll Stone
Chumash notes on Hakhel (Artscroll Stone Chumash commentary on Sefer Devarim, Perek 31, posuk 12):
The time to inculcate values in children is from their earliest youth, and especially by the example of the parents and others who sincerely strive for the ideals they preach.... Thus, for bringing their children to Hakhel, parents deserved to be rewarded, for they demonstrated that the Torah was precious to them.
Sefer L’lmod U’Lamed (page 168) notes that the Hakhel is meant;
To emphasize the need for parents to maintain close watch on their children’s development… To set the proper example for their children, especially during the early years when they are their children’s primary role models.
We learn in our Parsha (Sefer Devarim, Perek 31, posuk 16);
"Hashem said to Moshe. 'When you go and lie with your ancestors this nation will rise up and stray after the [false deities] of the land into which they are coming. They will thus abandon Me and violate the covenant that I have made with them.'”
Torah Gems, by Aharon Yaakov Greenberg (page 314) cites a Mikra MeForash which notes;
Torah refers to this as “rising up”, when it would seem more proper to use a verb such as “to descend.” Rather, what this teaches us is that the people will rise up. They, rather than their leaders, will be the rulers, and that will result in their falling to the lowest depths.
The “people”, rather than their [Torah] leaders, will be the rulers resulting in the nation’s fall to the depths?
Then, in the very next posuk (Sefer Devarim, Perek 31, posuk 17);
“Then my anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide my face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles will befall them…”
How very much does this Torah Gems citing sound like modern-day Israeli Torah-devoid governance, even amongst the alleged “religious sectors”? And how very much this citing sounds like the great rhetorical noise, i.e., which Israel’s so-called “leaders” make — about the advent of Iranian nukes, or after terror attacks — rhetorical noise (boasts) which translate to zero action?
These same so-called “leaders,” these big, brave Shotrim who arrest and persecute Jews who fight for Eretz Yisrael and for the Torah way against internal ruling subversion?
How very much these so-called big, brave “leaders” and their Shabaknikim and Yassamnikim Shotrim fit the descriptions of the above citings as they smash Jewish heads and abuse women and babies in Migron?
Oh, that the Netanyahus, Baraks and Livnis would come to realize this as well as the rest of the above posuk (Sefer Devarim, Perek 31, posuk 17);
They will say on that day, “Have not these evils come upon us because Hashem is not within me?”
And how very much the above Torah Gems citing sounds like certain Rabbanim whose silence denotes resigned acquiescense to a criminal element of several hundred within their constituency who have stoned and defamed young girls as they (the girls) enter or leave their Beis Yaakov? Who have pounced upon and beaten boys and young men for carrying Israel's national banner.
Are these acts because this element claims that a certain Beis Yaakov institution, or neighborhood in Eretz Yisrael is exclusively “their turf” and NOT part of the rest of the Nation, or is it because of outright Sinat Chinam — viewing anyone not looking, thinking, davening or dressing EXACTLY like them as being goyim, stoned or physically accosted and attacked?
It seems to this author that these questions, points and more regarding both Parsha Nitzavim, and our parsha are crucial both for the Kehal — the Am, as well as for Rabbanim to ponder during Asseret Yomei Teshuva.
To repeat the point this author made in Parshat Nitzavim, Asserting and taking Mutual responsibility — it may just be key to The Ge’ula!
May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard and the other MIAs be liberated alive returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem. May we have the courage, backbone and moral stength of conviction to prevent both the eviction of Jews from their homes in all or any part of Eretz Yisrael and the handing of Jewish land over to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima — the Ultimate Redemption bim hay v’yameinu — speedily, in our time”, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem, Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim” — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!
Good Shabbos! May You, All of My Brothers, Sisters, be Sealed, for Year of Life... Now and Always!