Weekly Sidra: Vayelech (Standing ones)
Torah Portion: Devarim / Deuteronomy 31:1-31:30
Haftorah: Hosea 14:2-10; Micah 7:18-20
I realized growing up that if I did something wrong I would be punished by my dad. I also knew that he would love me and care for me if I apologized for what I had done.
This week we read a special Haftarah portion for Shabbat Shuva. Shabbat Shuvah or Shabbat T’shuvah ("Sabbath [of] Return" שבת שובה or "Sabbath [of] Repentance" שבת תשובה) refers to the Shabbat that occurs during the Ten Days of Repentance, but is between (i.e. not including): the two consecutive Days of Rosh Hashanah; and the Day of Yom Kippur. The name Shabbat Shuvah comes from the first word of the Haftarah that is read on that day, Hosea 14:2-10, and literally means "Return!" It is alternately known as Shabbat T’shuvah owing to its being one of the Aseret Y’may T’shuvah (Ten Day of Repentance).
The ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is our opportunity to say sorry to HaKodesh Baruch Hu (The Holy One blessed is He). It is our chance to come clean before HaShem. However, it is not only repentance that is required, but we need to have the proper kavanah or intention in our heart.
For example if while apologizing to my dad I was smiling or laughing then he would know I was not truly repentant. So too with HaShem, if we are to return to Him, we must do so with a true sense of repentance. It is interesting to note that the word Shuva (return) has the same root as Teshuva (return).
The prophet Hosea begins by declaring:
“Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God,
For you have fallen because of your sin.
3 Take words with you
And return to the Lord.
Say to Him:
"Forgive all guilt
And accept what is good;
Instead of bulls we will pay
[The offering of] our lips. (Hosea 14:2, 3)
Israel had realized that idolatry was not the answer. They had tried to trust in Assyria’s might and they were offering praises to the work of their hands. When we trust in armies or the police alone we miss that fact that HaShem placed them in that position. If we believe that we have achieved anything through our strength, or looks, or intelligence then we neglect that HaShem alone has endowed us with these traits.
The prophet Micah states:
“Who is a God like You,
And remitting transgression;
Who has not maintained His wrath forever
Against the remnant of His own people,
Because He loves graciousness!” (Micah 7:18)
HaShem will forgive us like a father will forgive his child. All we have to do is remember to come before Him in humility and contrition. If we return to HaShem in an attitude of repentance He will forgive us and take away our sins.
Tags: 1492, baruch, consecutive days, devarim, first word, holy one blessed, hosea 14, kavanah, prophet hosea, quot, repentance, rosh hashanah, rosh hashanah and yom kippur, Sabbath, Shabbat, shabbat shuva, shabbat shuvah, torah portion, true sense, yom kippur
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