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The Great Outdoors….

August 30, 2013

Port Melbourne PierSomeone once said “Do not wait until the conditions are perfect to begin. Beginning makes the conditions perfect.

Below is a Summary of this week’s Double Parsha Nitzavim & Veyelech (

The Parshah of Nitzavim includes some of the most fundamental principles of the Jewish faith:

The unity of Israel: “You stand today, all of you, before the L‑rd your G‑d: your heads, your tribes, your elders, your officers, and every Israelite man; your young ones, your wives, the stranger in your gate; from your wood-hewer to your water-drawer.”

The future redemption: Moses warns of the exile and desolation of the Land that will result if Israel abandons G‑d’s laws, but then he prophesies that in the end, “You will return to the L‑rd your G‑d . . . If your outcasts shall be at the ends of the heavens, from there will the L‑rd your G‑d gather you . . . and bring you into the Land which your fathers have possessed.”

The practicality of Torah: “For the mitzvah which I command you this day, it is not beyond you, nor is it remote from you. It is not in heaven . . . It is not across the sea . . . Rather, it is very close to you, in your mouth, in your heart, that you may do it.”

Freedom of choice: “I have set before you life and goodness, and death and evil: in that I command you this day to love G‑d, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments . . . Life and death I have set before you, blessing and curse. And you shall choose life.”

The Parshah of Vayelech (“And He Went”) recounts the events of Moses’ last day of earthly life. “I am one hundred and twenty years old today,” he says to the people, “and I can no longer go forth and come in.” He transfers the leadership to Joshua, and writes (or concludes writing) the Torah in a scroll which he entrusts to the Levites for safekeeping in the Ark of the Covenant.

The mitzvah of hak’hel (“gather”) is given: every seven years, during the festival of Sukkot of the first year of the shemittah cycle (sabbatical year is the seventh year of the seven-year agricultural cycle mandated by the Torah for the Land of Israel), the entire people of Israel—men, women and children—should gather at the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, where the king should read to them from the Torah.

Vayelech concludes with the prediction that the people of Israel will turn away from their covenant with G‑d, causing Him to hide His face from them, but also with the promise that the words of the Torah “shall not be forgotten out of the mouths of their descendants.”

I just thought I would do a quick Blog on a topic that has come up in this week’s and last (Ki Savo)  week’s Parshas based on an idea I read from Rabbi Mark Angel ( ). Over the last few Sundays besides doing my normal exercise, Loren & I have made a big effort to get outside and do things (if the weather is permitting). With Melbourne this week voted the “Most Liveable City in the World”, it is a good place to start.

Last week’s Parsha talks about bringing the Bikkurim (First Fruits) to the Temple, during the time of the Temple and in this week’s Parsha it talks about the Mitzvah of hak’hel (gathering – the entire people of Israel—men, women and children—should gather at the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, where the king should read to them from the Torah). Rabbi Angel describes further activities that were historically done outdoors such as only knowing the Sabbath was concluded by going outside and looking for stars and determining the calendars based on the moon. He says that almost everything, in fact, would have involved being outdoors, in contact with the natural world.

Now days we spend time in Synagogues or Yeshivah’s, we have Sabbath and Yom Tov meals all indoor. Religious life can now be celebrated indoors with the assistance of clocks and calendars, without the need arising to go outside and determine the position of the sun.

Rabbi Angel says “By bringing religion indoors, some of our feeling of awe for the universe and its Creator has been lost. The regular daily connections with nature which Jewish tradition has prescribed are no longer easily experienced.”

Next week we celebrate Rosh Hashanah – the beginning of a new year. Rabbi Avrohom Jacks says one of the key messages of Rosh Hashanah is “to bravely get things started. To take those first few steps and begin the exciting journey of life!”

Rabbi Angel says “As we open our eyes more to the outdoors, to the rhythms of nature, we will come into relationship with G-d, Creator of the universe. Jewish spirituality entails appreciating the value of calm, natural wisdom.”

I love to get outdoors to make the most of the beautiful city of Melbourne, to exercise and to get my family out and about. We can all survive away from our TV’s and Computers for a few hours and enjoy the outdoors. Make this a New Years Resolution and get started…

Some extra Notes:


Y -TriSome Chabad community members in Melbourne have just set up Y-Tri or on Twitter@YTri_Ironman . Y-Tri is The Yeshivah Triathlon Club but it also stands for the fight against the common misconception of Orthodox Jewish Males (and Females) that focusing energy on having an active lifestyle is forbidden. On the contrary, it is a cornerstone of the Torah to look after our bodies so that we may serve Almighty G-d with the utmost enthusiasm. So give Y-Tri a try, because you can.

JMF Kids 4 Kids’

JMFFriends the Kuriels and the Perlsteins are doing extra to encourage their kids to get outdoors and to exercise. Over 12 weeks, their kids will complete the ironman triathlon distance by swimming 3.8km, riding 180km and running 42.2km.

Rabbi Frand on last week’s Parsha says that we learn from the Bikkurim (Bringing the First Fruits), the “gift of giving”.

These kids are doing these 12 weeks of exercise to raise money for The John Maclean Foundation (JMF) and give something back to the community.  The event is designed to encourage kids to be active as well as encouraging families to spend active time together.

JMF exists to change the lives of young Australians who use wheelchairs. The JMF’s Mission – Our mission is to inspire, motivate and enable these great kids to chase their dreams.

Donations can be made on the website –

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