This week we read Vayelech (And He Went), Deuteronomy 31:1 – 31:30. This is the weekly portion with the fewest verses, and is often combined with the previous week’s portion, Nitzavim. In the parashah, Moses tells the Israelites to be strong and courageous, as God and Joshua would soon lead them into the Promised Land. Moses commands the Israelites to read the law to all the people every seven years. God then tells Moses that his death is approaching, that the people would break the covenant, and that God would thus hide God’s face from them, so Moses should therefore write a song to serve as a witness for God against them. That song is the next portion, Ha’azinu.
This year, this week’s portion falls out between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, which is a special Shabbat, known as Shabbat Shuva. The Prophets reading is therefore replaced by the special Shabbat Shuva passage: Hosea 14:2-10 and Joel 2:15-27.
I think that at the very least, the first and last verses of each of these passages is worth contemplating (but by all means, read the entire passages!):
Hosea 14:2 Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God, For you have fallen because of your sin.
Hosea 14:10 He who is wise will consider these words, He who is prudent will take note of them. For the paths of the LORD are smooth; The righteous can walk on them, While sinners stumble on them.
Joel 2: 15 Blow a shofar in Zion, Solemnize a fast, Proclaim an assembly! (this heavily reminds us of Rosh Hashanah, the feast of trumpeting, and Yom Kippur, the fast day of atonement.)
Joel 2: 27 And you shall know That I am in the midst of Israel: That I the LORD am your God And there is no other. And My people shall be shamed no more.