In parshat Vayelech, we read that Moses commanded the tribe of Levi, who carry the Ark, to "Take this Torah scroll and place it alongside the [tablets of the Ten Commandments that were in the]1 Ark of the Covenant."2

The Midrash3 tells us that Moses wrote thirteen Torahs, one for each of the 12 tribes, and the 13th was to be put into the Ark of the Covenant, and if an issue arises with any of the Torahs, they would be able to check the 13th Torah to clarify the issue.

Parshat Vayelech is always read either on the Shabbat before Rosh Hashanah or between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The Shaloh Hakadosh4 tells us that the parshah is connected to the time of year that it is read. That means that Vayelech is connected to Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and the Ten Days of Teshuvah.

How does this 13th Torah connect with the High Holidays?

Each of the 12 tribes had a Torah of their own. This symbolized that every tribe had their own path in Torah. That is why there are different customs in different areas, and one should follow rulings of the rabbi of his or her city. "These and these are the words of the Living G‑d,"5 but every one of our souls come down a certain path, and we connect through our unique path.6

This is also true when it comes to our personal relationship with G‑d. Each of us has our specific path in how we love and fear of Him. Each of us is at a different level and we have a unique way of connecting to Him.7 That is the way it is supposed to be.

These differences are in the details. Each community and person has different details that they highlight. However, in the general aspects of Judaism, we are all the same.

This is expressed by the idea of a 13th Torah. There is a point where we are all the same and included in one Torah, which can never change. The deeper one delves into Torah, especially the esoteric, and into our soul’s essence, the more we are the same and those details become irrelevant.

The same thing is taught8 about the different nuscha’ot (prayer formulae). The varied traditions are associated with the "thirteen times they would prostrate [in the Temple], which correspond to the 13 gates in the Third Temple."9

Every tribe has a gate from which to enter, and then there is the 13th, the all-inclusive gate, which everyone can enter. Now that most of us don't know which tribe we are from, we would all enter the 13th gate. The nusach that the Arizal made is all-inclusive. It is the 13th gate, that all of us can go through.

The Alter Rebbe, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, was the first Rebbe of Chabad. Everything he did was to make things in a way that it will be all-inclusive, good the soul of every individual.

When the Alter Rebbe edited the siddur that Chabad uses, he had 60 versions of the siddur in front of him to reference. He winnowed and sifted throughout his writing until it was refined and perfect for every soul.10

The same is true for the Shulchan Aruch that he wrote,11 known as the Shulchan Aruch Harav, along with the chassidut that he wrote, the Tanya and more. He didn't write it specifically for his Chassidim, rather that it should be all-inclusive, for any neshamah.

Now we can understand why the teaching of the 13th Torah, that Moses had them put into the Ark of the Covenant, in the Holy of Holies, is read this time of year. Everyone comes to shul, from the most observant to the least. It has to be a time of love and inclusiveness between the Jewish people. We don't focus on our differences; we have to look deeper into the essence of who we are until we see that we are all the same. We all learn from the 13th Torah and enter the 13th gate.12 This love is the foundation and the starting point for everything we do this time of year. Because, how can we return to G‑d with teshuvah, and how can we ask G‑d to grant us our needs, when we are at odds with his beloved children?

Through our love for every soul, we will come closer to G‑d. He will surely grant us all our needs, and we will certainly have a sweet year.

If we act with love for one another, we will soon merit to enter the 13th gate, together with all of our Jewish brothers and sisters, and see the third and final Temple, with the coming of Moshiach. May he come soon.13