Parsha Page – Nitzavim; 9/8/18

Shabbat Shalom! This is our final parsha in 5778. Shana tova! This week’s parsha, Nitzavim, begins as Moses is wrapping up his final speech to the Israelites. They are perched on the edge of the land of Israel, waiting to cross into the land and claim it. Moses reminds them that they are gathered together- everyone from the tribal leaders to the woodchopper, men and women alike- to enter into the brit, the covenant with God. We read toward the end of this week’s parsha a beautiful reminder of the covenant made between Adonai and the Children of Israel, and that this covenant was not for the “chosen” of the community, but for everyone. The Torah reads:

You stand this day, all of you, before Adonai your God—your tribal heads, your elders and your officials, all the men of Israel, your children, your wives, even the stranger within your camp, from woodchopper to water drawer—to enter into the covenant of Adonai your God, which Adonai your God is concluding with you this day, with its sanctions; to the end that He may establish you this day as His people and be your God, as He promised you and as He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I make this covenant, with its sanctions, not with you alone, but both with those who are standing here with us this day before Adonai our God and with those who are not with us here this day.

We are warned against straying from God’s covenant and worshipping other gods. Moses delivers prophecy about the diaspora and exile of the Israelites from their land, and ensures the people that God will bring them back in love. Moses then tells the people:

Surely, this Teaching which I enjoin upon you this day is not too baffling for you, nor is it beyond reach. It is not in the heavens, that you should say, “Who among us can go up to the heavens and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it?” Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who among us can cross to the other side of the sea and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it?” No, the thing is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to observe it.

This reminder, that the Teaching (Torah) is not out of reach for us, leads to a plea to choose to follow the Teaching, to choose the blessing of Torah and keep it close to our hearts. In doing so, Moses says, we will have life and long endure in the land that God will give us.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION:

  1. Why is it important that Moses tells the people that the brit is for everyone?
  2. How can we keep the blessing of Torah close to our hearts?
  3. What does Moses’ speech to the people teach us about how we relate to God?

Shana tova and Shabbat Shalom to all!