Parshas Nitzavim-Vayelech: It's Right Here!

By Reb Eliezer Bulka

Posted on 09/12/20

Parshas HaShavua Divrei Torah sponsored by
Dr. Shapsy Tajerstein, DPM - Podiatry Care.
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This week's parsha speaks much about teshuvah and the study of Torah. The pasuk proclaims

"For this mitzvah (the whole Torah, according to Rashi) that I command you today is not removed from you, nor is it far. It is not in the heavens that you may say who will go up to the heavens and take it for us and teach it to us and we shall do it. Nor is it across the sea that you may say who will cross the sea and take it for us and teach us and we shall do it." (30:11-13)

The Torah illustrates the ease with which it may be conquered by means of these two analogies. Perhaps there is a homiletic reasoning behind the use of this imagery. Each corresponds to a situation in B'nei Yisrael's short history where they came together with a collective complaint. First, when they reached Yam Suf, they all complained that they were trapped by the sea and could not move forward. With a miracle of miracles, HaShem delivered us. The Torah tells us here that to learn the Torah, we do not have to rely on such great miracles. We do not have to cross the sea; it is right in front of us.

When the spies come back with the negative report, B'nei Yisrael begin to believe that they will be unable to conquer the land. Caleiv silences the nation and declares (Bemidbar 13:30) that they will indeed go up and conquer the land. The gemara (Sotah 35a) comments on Caleiv's declaration that he proclaimed "Is this not all that (Moshe) ben Amram has done for us? Has he not brought us out of Mitzrayim, split the sea and fed us man? Even if he were to instruct us to make ladders and climb to the heavens, we shall surely go up!" In accordance with this, we are told lo bashamayim hi, it is not in the heavens. It is right in front of us for the taking.