The Torah is Not in the Heavens

Parsha Points- Nitzavim- Vayelech 5771


Sponsored by Midreshet Devora in Honor of Rut Abreu,  the First Student from the Dominican Republic to Spend a Year of Torah Study in Jerusalem


In Parshat Nitzavim, Devarim 30:11-14 B’nai Yisrael are told: “For this mitzvah that I am commanding you today; it is not too hard for you nor is it distant. It is not in heaven for you to say ‘Who will go up to heaven for us, and acquire it for us, and acquire it for us, and inform us of it, and we will fulfill it’? Nor is it overseas, for you to say, ‘Who will travel overseas for us, and acquire it for us, and inform us of it, and we will fulfill it’? For the matter is extremely close to you; in your mouth and in your mind to fulfill it”.


According to Rashi “this mitzvah” refers to the Torah.


In Devarim Raba 8:6, we learn that the Torah is no longer in Heaven. Moshe already brought it down. Nobody should say that Moshe should go and bring us another Torah from Heaven.


Rambam, in Hilchot Yisodei HaTorah 9:1 states that the laws of the Torah are of eternal and lasting validity subject to no change, addition or subtraction… It is stated: “It is not in heaven”- this implies that a prophet is henceforth not entitled to introduce any innovation. Consequently should there arise anyone, gentile or Jew, to perform a miracle or sign and assert that the Lord had sent him to add or abrogate a precept recorded in the Torah or deviate from the accepted interpretation of an observance, as we have heard it from Moshe or state that the commandments given to Israel were not meant for eternity but were merely temporary- this man is a false prophet…


We must take the Torah that we have, observe it and treasure it. The mitzvot in the Torah are within our reach.


Unfortunately, there are many missionaries around the world who try to convince the Jewish people that the Torah no longer applies. We must provide a proper Jewish education for the next generation to make sure that they do not fall prey to these missionaries but rather find the beauty and spirituality in our Torah and the reason why we do not need to search elsewhere.