In this week’s portion, Moshe, during his final days, continues to speak to the Nation of Israel. He exhorts them: “And you who cling to G-d, you are alive today” (Deut 4:4).
What is the intent of this verse? Moshe said this after he had talked about the death of those who had worshipped idols. When the word “chayim” — life — is used here, is the intent mere physical life or something more?
The Talmud tells us (Rosh Hashana) that righteous people while dead are considered alive. The word alive obviously has deeper meaning than living or breathing. What does the verse mean, when it says, “And you who cling to G-d?”
Clinging to G-d means performing His will to the best of our abilities. What is the will of G-d? It is contained in the Torah that He gave at Mount Sinai, where He delineates our responsibilities as Jews. Moshe is telling the Jewish people, “those who betrayed G-d by their worship of idols are dead.” Not only physically dead, but spiritually dead. The word alive connotes something that has relevance and meaning.
One who does his best to observe the will of G-d while still alive, even after he has passed away, is still considered alive, because the teachings he has so faithfully followed, and the commandments of the Torah that he has so carefully observed, are still having ramifications. Whether they live on through his children, or just the influence he made as a Torah observer, his mark has been made.
How does one get to the level of being alive — so much so that he is able to transcend death?
One gets to this level by clinging to G-d. Our performance of the commandments must not be done by rote.
Every commandment is a window that enables us to understand a different aspect of G-d. Every time we perform each commandment we gain more clarity in our understanding. This can only happen if we cling to G-d. The first time the word cling – davak — is used in the Torah it is in reference to the relationship between husband and wife.
It is well known that one of the key components in marriage is passion. This idea is similarly true in our relationship with G-d.
Rav Chaim of Volozhin explains, in his classic work Nefesh Hachaim, that the best way to cling to G-d is to study His Torah. The Torah is G-d’s will; therefore every word studied brings one closer to Him.
May we merit, through the study of Torah, to cling to G-d.