Parshas Vayeilech includes a passage that relates that G‑d will bring retribution on the Jews because of their sins. The Jews will then say: “Is it not because G‑d is not in my midst that all these troubles have befallen me?” The passage continues, explaining that G‑d will not respond positively. Instead, He will turn His face away as the people suffer retribution.

The commentaries raise a question: Seemingly, the people are confessing their sins. Why does their confession not find favor in G‑d’s eyes?

Because they question G‑d’s presence among them. Wherever he is, no matter how low spiritually he has sunk and no matter how difficult his situation is, a person must always realize that G‑d is with him. If he seeks G‑d, he will be able to find Him. It is his giving up the search and doubting his connection with G‑d that leads to G‑d’s turning away.

Looking to the Horizon

Parshas Vayeilech also focuses on the transfer of leadership from Moses to Joshua. Here, we find an interesting paradox. On one hand, “no prophet like Moses ever arose.” His level far surpassed Joshua’s to the extent that our Sages compared Moses to the sun and Joshua to the moon. Nevertheless, it was Joshua who brought the Jews into Eretz Yisrael and not Moses. Moreover, throughout Moses’ leadership, there were always rebellions and strife, while during Joshua’s time, by contrast, the people followed his guidance. There was never a situation where large factions of the people rebelled against him.

The paradox, however, explains itself. Because Moses’ level was so high, the people had trouble relating to him. Joshua, by contrast, spoke on their level, making their spiritual purpose something that they could identify with.

These concepts are relevant to us as we approach our entry into Eretz Yisrael together with Mashiach. The concept of redemption cannot remain an abstract spiritual goal that only a Moses can relate to. It must be felt cogently by every one of us and made a real factor in our lives.