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   by Jacob Solomon

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Moses went, and spoke these words [of the covenant] to Israel. He said: "I am 120 years old today…" (30:1-2).

The Ramban explains that "Moses went" means that he left his own quarters near the mishkan and visited all the 12 tribes in order to wish them well.

The Sforno explains that Moshe's going out to interact with the people for the last time was for the following reason. It was to maintain the overriding spirit of joy in participating in the Covenant. Through the Covenant the Israelites indeed became His People (c.f. 27:9), by living in harmony with Creator and by observing His Laws. At the time of his death, the Israelites were in the process of become at one with the Creator, which was to be sealed after Moshe's death in the ceremonies following the crossing of the Jordan, under Joshua.

Moshe did not wish his death to change the mood of the people to the degree that they would be a sad nation. His legacy was that they should continue to serve G-d with "joy and good heart" (c.f. 28:47) by performing the mizvot with great happiness. As the Sforno quotes: "Let Israel rejoice in Him Who made them" (Psalms 149:31).

Indeed elsewhere (e.g. in his comment to Gen. 6:6), the Sforno emphasises that G-d's relationship with the humanity as a whole is "G-d rejoices in His works" (Psalms 104:31). For that reason "He was distressed" (ibid) when he saw that the generation of the Flood had become utterly corrupt and degenerate. For on the contrary, G-d wants Mankind to succeed.

But at the Covenant, Moshe strove for G-d's joy to be taken to an altogether higher level. It was to be fully reciprocated by G-d's people. "G-d rejoices in His works" was to be beamed back at Him with "Let Israel rejoice in Him Who made them". That exclusive privilege of raising the relationship between G-d and Mankind to the level of a Covenant with joy on both sides was to be given to Klal Yisrael. The Covenant was indeed the ultimate level of the Creation, where G-d would "walk among you: I will be a G-d to you, and you will be a People to Me" (Lev. 26:12).

Indeed, this contrast with faiths that strongly emphasize creeds. This explanation indicates that the entry to Torah is to perform its study and performance with joy, which in turn brings G-d near to the people, enabling those who love Him to sense Him.

For those looking for more comprehensive material, questions and answers on the Parasha may be found at and on the material on the Haftara at .

Written by Jacob Solomon. Tel 02 673 7998. E-mail: for any points you wish to raise and/or to join those that receive this Parasha sheet every week.

Parashiot from the First, Second, and Third Series may be viewed on the Shema Yisrael web-site:

Also by Jacob Solomon:
From the Prophets on the Haftara

Test Yourself - Questions and Answers


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