Commandment number 612 enjoins the entire Jewish people to assemble at the end of the Sabbatical year on the second day of the festival of Sukkot. (Deut. 31:10-13)

Commandment number 613 directs every male Israelite to write a copy of the written Torah for himself. The Torah states:

"Now write down for yourselves this 'song' and teach it to the Children of Israel." (Ibid. 31:19)

These two are found in the portion of Vayelech. They conclude the list of the 613 commandments. All of Israel is perceived of as a single body…

According to Nachmanides, the commandment to do teshuva is also alluded to in the preceding portion of Netzavim, usually read together with Vayelech: "For this commandment which I command you this day is not too hard for you..." (Deut. 30:11)

[Also, in the following portion, Ha'azinu, we find an allusion to the prohibition to drink wine intended as a libation for idolatrous cults. The Torah refers to this in the verse: "…who ate the fat of their offerings and drank their libation wine". (Deut. 32:38) We have a similar previous allusion to this commandment: "…and he will invite you and you will partake of his (idolatrous) offerings". (Ex. 34:15) The word "from" (his offerings) includes libations.]

The three commandments in Netzavim-Vayelech are related.

The commandment of Hakhel, demanding that all of Israel-women and children included-assemble in the courtyard of the Holy Temple to listen to a reading of the Torah, is rooted in the fact that all of Israel is perceived of as a single body. Subsequently, the Torah once more instructs every individual Israelite separately to write a copy of the Torah for himself.

As long as Israel performs G‑d's commandments they experience a close affinity with G‑d both on a national and on an individual level. If, G‑d forbid, they are to fail to observe the Torah's commandments, they will find themselves under the influence of an alien deity, i.e. the evil urge. When this happens, the sinner will find himself in the domain of the left side of the Tree of Life, i.e. subject to influences similar to those which govern the lives of the nations.

G‑d has, however, provided a remedy for those Israelites who have become subject to these influences. This remedy is known as teshuva, repentance. Repentance possesses the power to bring such sinners "back into the fold", into the right side of the Tree of Life, which represents holiness. The pollutant of the serpent…spread through mankind as a result of Eve having squeezed out the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge....

The mystical dimension of repentance is part of the sefira of bina. Students of Kabbala are aware that this sefira cannot be accessed by the nations. The latter can access only the sefirot from chesed "downwards". Canaanites have access to these lower sefirot. Ishmael was sired by Abraham who represented the sefira of chesed. Hence the nations are able to relate to this sefira. Being offspring of Isaac, who represented the next "lower" sefira of gevura, the descendants of Esau also could access that sefira.

Having delineated the above exceptions, the 70 nations can access only the angelic forces associated with the constellations. The inability of these 70 nations to access the sefirot of either chesed or gevura explains why when members of such nations touch wine it disqualifies the wine, which is an expression of G‑d's bounty. All of this is because of the pollutant of the serpent which spread through mankind as a result of Eve having squeezed out the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge (reputedly the grape). It thus became what is termed in our portion: "a fruit turning into poison weed and wormwood". (Deut. 29:17) Concerning this type of wine, King Solomon said, "Do not look at wine when it is red". (Proverbs 23:31)

Since the sefira of bina is not exposed to the "touch" of the gentile nations, the wine we find in that domain is the kind of which our sages have said that it has been preserved in its original grapes ever since the six days of Creation, in order to be served up to the righteous in the Hereafter. (Berachot 34) This is an allusion to the six "revealed" days of Creation remaining as they are, i.e. accessible to contact by the nations.

The six days of Creation, known as the days of "binyan", the concealed aspect of the work of Creation, serve as an area in which this wine is stored for the eventual enjoyment by the righteous. The penitent must elevate himself to a level that qualifies him to partake of that wine in the future. He is able to burst the confining shackles of the kelipot, so that he can rejoin the mainstream of the Jewish people. The ba'al teshuva, together with the other righteous, will then experience the revelation of G‑d's secrets as a result of having partaken of this wine. This is the meaning of the verse: "G‑d's secrets are reserved for those who fear him." (Psalms 25:14)

[Translated and adapted by Eliyahu Munk.]