Torah Thoughts – Vayelech

Last week’s passing of Shimon Peres marks a turning point in the history of State of Israel. Peres, who immigrated to Israel from Poland in 1934, was part of that first generation of leadership who not only helped to found the state but lead it all the way to today. A protégée of David Ben Gurion, Peres served twice as Israel’s Prime Minister, twice as its interim Prime Minister, as well as serving as its President and part of twelve different cabinets. As current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in his eulogy: [Peres] belonged to the generation that emerged from bondage to liberty, that struck roots in our ancient homeland, and wielded the Sword of David in its defense. Shimon made a monumental contribution to guaranteeing our capacity to defend ourselves for generations. And for that he will have the gratitude of generations.”
At the beginning of this week’s Torah portion,  Vayelech, Moses tells the people: “I am 120 years old today. I can no longer go out and come in.” How hard it must have been for our ancestors to hear these words from such a pillar of strength. Eventually, the responsibility of leadership must pass from one hand to another, from one generation to the next. As President Obama said about Peres, “The last of the founding generation is now gone. Shimon accomplished enough things in his life for a thousand men. But he understood that it is better to live to the very end of his time on Earth with a longing not for the past but for the dreams that have not yet come true – an Israel that is secure in a just and lasting peace with its neighbors. And so now this work is in the hand of Israel’s next generation, in the hands of Israel’s next generation and its friends.”
Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Alex