Parshat Vayeilech Summary

Parshat Vayeilech is the 9th parsha in Sefer Devarim (also known as Deuteronomy).

This parsha is verses Deuteronomy 31:1 – 31:30, or a total of 30 verses.

Here is a brief summary for each aliyah.

Aliyah 1: Deuteronomy 31:1 – 31:3, 3 verses

Moses tells the Jewish people that on this day he turned 120 years old.

According to Jewish tradition Moses was born and died on the 7th of Adar.

He encourages the Jewish people with a message of hope for the future. It is true that he will not be able to lead them into the Land. However, God and Joshua will be with them.

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Aliyah 2: Deuteronomy 31:4 – 31:6, 3 verses

The Jewish people are about to enter the Land of Israel. They will face opposition from the nations that are already there.

Moses assures the people that God will destroy those nations. They already saw what God did to the Amorites and their kings, Og and Sihon.

The people should strengthen themselves and not fear, because God goes before them. He will never forsake His people.

Aliyah 3: Deuteronomy 31:7 – 31:9, 3 verses

Moses now addresses Joshua directly. He encourages him to strengthen himself and not be afraid. Moses implies that Joshua will be successful in leading the people and causing them to inherit the Land of Israel.

Moses wrote a copy of the Torah and gave it to the priests and the elders of the people.

Aliyah 4: Deuteronomy 31:10 – 31:13, 4 verses

In these verses we learn about a special ceremony to be conducted at the end of every Shemittah year.

During the festival of Sukkot (after Shemittah has ended) all of the people are to gather to listen to the reading of the Torah.

All of the people are supposed to come: men, women, and even small children.

The purpose of this gathering (in Hebrew called “Hakhel”) is so that everyone will hear and learn the Torah. Then they will fear God and be careful to fulfill the Torah.

Aliyah 5: Deuteronomy 31:14 – 31:19, 6 verses

God tells Moses to bring Joshua to the Tabernacle so that God may command him.

God speaks to Moses and tells him what will happen after he dies. The Jewish people will chase after false gods. They will abandon the true God.

God will be angry with them and He will hide from them. They will say that God has abandoned them. But in fact, they turned away from God.

God instructs Moses to write the song to serve as a witness against the Jewish people. Rashi explains that “the song” is what’s recorded in the next parsha, Haazinu.

Parshat Vayeilech
Heaven and earth will bear witness against them (based on Deuteronomy 31:27)

Aliyah 6: Deuteronomy 31:20 – 31:24, 5 verses

God continues speaking to Moses.

He reminds Moses that the Land they are entering is a land flowing with milk and honey. The downside is that material prosperity will contribute to the people turning away from God.

They will serve other gods and their actions will provoke God.

However, the song that Moses is writing will never be forgotten. Many evils will fall on the Jewish people. But the song will be a witness and the future generations will remember it.

Moses wrote the song (Haazinu) and taught it to the Jewish people. He again urges Joshua to be strong.

Aliyah 7: Deuteronomy 31:25 – 31:30, 6 verses

Moses commanded the members of his tribe, the tribe of Levi. He gave them the completed written Torah and told them to place it in the Ark.

He again rebukes the Jewish people. He knows how they behaved during his life. He fears they will rebel against God after his death.

He commands the elders and the officers to gather so that he can teach them the song (Haazinu) and let the heaven and earth be witnesses against them.

Haftarah Summary

Hosea 14:2 – 10, Joel 2:11 – 27, Micah 7:18 – 20

This haftarah is read for Parshat Vayeilech when it is read between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. This Shabbat is known as Shabbat Shuva when the Jewish people are urged to repent of their sins and return to God.

If Parshat Vayeilech is read with Parshat Nitzavim before Rosh Hashanah, then the haftarah for Nitzavim is read.

In the first section of the haftarah, the prophet Hosea urges the Jewish people to return to God. When they repent, no matter how great their sins, God will forgive them and accept them.

The second section is from the prophet Joel. God tells the people that they should return to Him with their hearts. God is gracious, full of compassion, slow to anger, and full of kindness. He will accept those who repent.

The final 3 verses are from Micah. There is none like our God Who pardons His people and will not be angry forever.

Further Reading

In the two previous readings, Ki Tavo and Nitzavim, Moses warned the people about the consequences of abandoning God. In this parsha Moses presents a much more encouraging tone.

A Note on the Translations
The translation of Bible verses is based on the Judaica Press Tanach.
The translation of Gemara is based on the Soncino Talmud.
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