Vayelech September 19, 2015 / 6 Tishri, 5776

This week’s parasha is the penultimate reading of the Torah cycle. After next week’s “Ha’azinu,” the last paragraphs of the Torah are left for reading on Simchat Torah, when we finish reading the Torah and start again. In Vayelech, Moses states that the words of this book, Deuteronomy, or perhaps the entire Torah, are to be read only every seven years on the holiday of Sukkot, during the Sabbatical Year. (Deut. 31: 10-12) It is not clear when the custom of Parashat Hashvuah, the weekly cycle of Torah reading, began—some attribute it to Moses, but that clearly contradicts what is written here. Over time, a passage from the prophets (Haftarah) was added to the weekly public reading as well. Special readings were provided on each of the holidays. On Yom Kippur, it became customary to read from Deuteronomy in the morning and from Leviticus in the afternoon. As we move on through our Ten Days of Repentance toward Yom Kippur, let me wish each of you “G’mar Hatima Tovah,” “May you be sealed for good in the Book of Life.”

Deuteronomy 31:1–30