This week’s Torah portion is Va’yeilech – Deut. 31. Moses tells the Israelites that because of his advanced years, one hundred and twenty (God bless him!) he can no longer be active – “I can no longer come and go…” (30:2). God will be with the people as they enter the Promised Land, and Joshua will lead them. He also tells the priests and the elders about the importance, every seven years, of reading “Ha-Torah ha-zot – this Teaching” to all the people. “Gather the people – men, women, and children, and the strangers in your communities – that they may hear and so learn to revere the Eternal your God and to observe faithfully every word of this Teaching. Their children, too, who have not had the experience, shall hear and learn to revere the Eternal your God…” (30:12-13)
This is a perfect reading on this Shabbat right before the beginning of our Religious School year, this Sunday, September 16th at 9:45 a.m. It is always a thrill to see all our students and their parents and our teachers making their way into the building and on to their classrooms for another year celebrating Jewish learning and living. We learn from the Midrash that: “Learning when young has two advantages: it is easier to impress knowledge on the mind, and one has time left in which to teach others.” [Special note: Three of the members of our teaching staff – Sarah Bedrossian, Karen McAleer, and Hannah Cutrona – are all graduates of our religious school… having learned when they were young, and now making the time to teach others.]
Moses is leaving very strict instructions that all the people should hear (and learn) this Teaching. This is Beth Israel – The West Temple, providing learning opportunities for us all, in all ages and stages of our lives.