Parashat Nitzavim-Vayelech

The Midrash in Devarim Rabbah 8:6 asks “What is the meaning of ‘it is not in the heavens?’”(Deut. 30:12) The Midrash explains that this Pasuk, found in Parashat Nitzavim, is meant to teach that the Torah is not to be found among astrologers whose primary work is to gaze at the heavens. It’s not that the rabbis were against star-gazing, but that they were against Torah-gazing. This Midrash serves to teach us that the Torah “is not in the heavens;” it’s not untouchable. The Torah is not to be viewed through a telescope, and admired from a distance. The rabbis of the Talmud use the phrase “it is not in the heavens” to demonstrate the that the responsibility to interpret the Torah now lies in our hands, not in the hands of God. Let us continue to interpret the Torah in order to gain a deeper understanding of how to live our lives.

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