Parashat VaYeilech, as one of the concluding Parashiyot of the Torah, details the final events of Moshe Rabeinu’s leadership of the Jewish people, save for Shirat Ha’azinu and his Berachot to the Shevatim. Moshe departs from his stewardship of Klal Yisaoel, which spanned from the exodus from Egypt to Bnei Yisrael’s arrival at the borders of Eretz Yisrael. The Parashah opens with (Devarim 31:1), “VaYeilech Moshe VaYedabeir Et Kol HaDevarim HaEileh El Bnei Yisrael” “Moshe went and he spoke these words to the Jewish people.”
Nearly all of the Meforshim raise this question: The Torah tells us that Moshe “went”, but does not tell us where he went to, a very glaring omission. As is appropriate for such a vague Pasuk, there are many answers to this question. The following idea, as presented by Rav Jerry Hochbaum, sheds light on this issue, and contains an extremely valuable message.
The Pasuk begins with Moshe’s lesson to Bnei Yisrael: First, “VaYeilech Moshe,” “Moshe went”, and only then “VaYedabeir Et Kol HaDevarim HaEileh El Bnei Yisrael.” A Jew always needs to be Holeich, constantly moving, developing, growing, rising. According to our Mesorah, man was not created to be static, stationary, or immobile, both spiritually and religiously. He must continually strive to advance to his full potential; his talents and aptitudes with which he was blessed should be completely realized.
Moshe himself is the standard for all Jews in this regard. Even in old age, when he is relieved of his enormous responsibilities as the leader of the Jewish people, he does not retire. Even after appointing Yehoshua to succeed him, he continues to teach Bnei Yisrael, and to influence their future.
It is interesting to note that this same point is made in a large number of places in the Torah. In Parashat Acharei Mot, the Torah tells us, “Et Mishpatay Ta’asu VeEt Chukotay Tishmeru LaLechet Bahem” “Do my laws and obey my statutes, to walk forward with them” (VaYikra 18:4). The second example is the well-known Pasuk, “VeHalachta BiDrachav” (Devarim 28:9), telling us to walk in Hashem’s ways. For both cases, the Torah employs the same root, Hei Lamed Chaf, the same verb describing Moshe’s actions, to teach all of us that we must continually advance, and be Holchim in our spiritual lives – never content with our status quo or our past accomplishments.
Furthermore, David HaMelech tells us, “Kol Hashem BaKoach,” that God’s voice at Har Sinai was with strength (Tehilim 29:4). Chazal comment that this line means, “according to the strength of every individual there.” Hashem adapted his message to the needs and capacity of understanding of all who stood at Sinai: toddlers and children, young men and women, newlyweds, the middle-aged, and the old. The reason for this? So that they each could appreciate the Torah, in accordance with their own intellectual capacity, level of experience, and physical well-being; in short, in accordance with their individuality.
However, people do grow up and all pass through the various stages of the human life cycle, and with aging of the body comes maturing of the mind and spirit. And if the capacity increases, it must be filled with greater understanding and practice of Torah.
We are, therefore, required to advance in our comprehension and practice of Torah, to help transform ourselves for the responsibilities linked with the new roles we must continually play in life. We are required to be Holchim, just like Moshe. Moshe’s last action, “VaYeilech,” was his final testament: As he personally advanced, “VaYedaber Et Kol HaDevarim HaEileh El Bnei Yisrael,” he implored us to do the same.
May Moshe’s example and instruction continue to inspire us for now and all time.