Parshat Vayeilech begins with the words:
“And Moshe went and he spoke all of these words to all of Israel.”
The Torah relates that Moshe “went” somewhere, but doesn’t tell us the destination. Where did Moshe go?
The Kli Yakar explains that Moshe didn’t go to any specific location. He points to the next verse in which Moshe says, “I am not able to go and come.” This was not a reflection of Moshe’s physical strength, which had not waned as he got older. Rather, God would not permit him to continue living. Thus, to counter anyone who might think that Moshe’s strength was depleted, he walked around, he “went,” and showed that he still had his strength. Thus, the location where he walked was not significant. The point was that he was able to walk among the people.
The Netziv’s approach is in direct conflict with the answer of the Kli Yakar. The Netziv explains that until this point in the Torah, Moshe would gather the entire nation before him, and God’s presence would speak from within Moshe, enabling his voice to reach the entire nation. Now, as Moshe approached his death, God’s Presence in Moshe began to dwindle, and as a result, he was no longer able to speak to the entire nation at once. This is why he needed to circulate among all the tribes to speak these words.
I would like to suggest another answer which we can apply to our own lives as individuals and as a nation. As individuals, the beauty of living a life of Torah and mitzvot is that one never reaches a stage in life where one is simply relaxing. There are always mitzvot to perform and minyanim and shiurim to attend. As we can see from our Torah leaders who never officially retire, life is an opportunity and we continue to do whatever we can as long as God grants us the opportunity to do so.
Moshe Rabbeinu had lived a complete and busy life. He was now giving over the reins of leadership to Yehoshua. He could have taken the last few days of his life to relax and enjoy life for himself. Moshe did not do this. “Vayeilech Moshe”—“Moshe went.” It doesn’t matter where he went. The point is that he kept on going. He forged on with whatever strength he had. This alone, perhaps even more than the specific words that he said here, is extremely inspirational.
This message has great significance on a national level as well, especially now that we have returned to the Land of Israel. Moshe did not live an easy life. He was raised in the Pharaoh’s palace, he had to run away from Egypt for 60 years, he faced continuous rebellions from the Jewish people and did not have a simple family life. But he never let any of this stop him from continuing to lead the Jewish people and serve God. He kept on going. Moshe “went” and kept moving forward. He also never gave up on his people, despite God even offering him to destroy the Jews and to start again. No matter what downfall he and the nation experienced, he stayed with it and never gave up.
The struggles that we experience as a people today, especially in Eretz Yisrael, are great. We have continuous fires on the Gaza border, constant tension on the northern border, Palestinian terrorism which has sadly resurfaced again, and a chaotic political situation. Moshe teaches us not to let any of this get us down and to continue picking ourselves up and growing as a people and a country.
As we read “And Moshe went” in this week’s parsha, let us internalize Moshe’s example and allow nothing to stop us from continuing forward, with God’s help, both as a nation and as individuals.
Rabbi Dov Lipman is a former MK and the author of seven books about Judaism and Israel. He is a member of the Mizrachi Speakers Bureau ( www.mizrachi.org/speakers ).