This Shabbat, as we begin the new year of 5762, we read Parshat Vayelech. One of the important Mitzvot found in this Parsha is the Mitzva of הקהל. In this Mitzva we are commanded to gather together the men, the women, and the small children, and bring them to the Bait Hamikdash. Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser in his Sefer “Something To Say” quotes the שפת אמת who explains that by traveling with their little children to the Bait Hamikdash the parents illustrate their profound desire to make sure that their children remain true to the Torah. Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser presents a story to illustrate this point. Rabbi Sevenstein was once visited by a parent who asked for a blessing that his son grow up to be a Talmid Chacham. The rabbi asked the parent, “Do you learn yourself?” The man lowered his eyes and said, “No Rebbe.” The rabbi said, “If you want your son to become a Talmid Chacham, you must be a living example of sincerity in Torah learning.”
Earlier in the Parsha the Torah writes חזקו ואמצו, “be strong and courageous.” Moshe then summoned Yehoshua and said to him, “be strong and courageous.” Rav Moshe Feinstein זצ"ל learns from the fact that Moshe repeated this to Yehoshua after telling the people as a whole that both teachers and students need strength and courage. A teacher must never give up, even when they feel their words are not having an effect on their students. They must still persist and trust that eventually what they are teaching will be heard. Students also need strength. Even when they find it hard to understand what they are being taught, they cannot give up. Rather, they must strive their utmost to master the material. If they put in the effort they will succeed as the Gemara (Megila 6b) says, יגעתי ומצאתי תאמן.
Today we are living in a time when we must tell ourselves, as well as our children and students, חזקו ואמצו after the terrible events of September eleventh. We must be strong and courageous in our commitment to Torah and Mitzvot and our belief in Hashem. Even though there were so many deaths, there were many נסים as well. If we can be strong and courageous in our feelings toward Hashem and our children and students observe this, they, too, will be strong during this terrible time period in our history.
If we can learn this important message of not trusting Hashem we will definitely fulfill the words of הושע in the beginning of our הפטרה,שובה ישראל עד ה' אלקיך, “Repent Jewish people until you come close to Hashem.”
With these thoughts in mind this Shabbat Shuva will serve its purpose and Hashem will be able to inscribe all of us for a year of health, happiness and Nachat from our families, אמן.