Parsha – Nitzavim


We are quickly coming to the end of our Holy Torah once again. This Shabbat we read Parsha Nitzavim which relates some of the final messages which Moshe our teacher wanted to impart to the Jewish people.

Moshe gathers the people together to hear his words. He relates once again the covenant which we entered into with Hashem and the promise that Hashem will allow us to choose our own path. The first aliyah reads:

9. You are all standing this day before the L-rd, your G-d the leaders of your tribes, your elders and your officers, every man of Israel, 10. your young children, your women, and your convert who is within your camp both your woodcutters and your water drawers, 11. that you may enter the covenant of the L-rd, your G-d, and His oath, which the L-rd, your G-d, is making with you this day,

This first aliyah demonstrates the unity of the Jewish people because Moshe is addressing ALL of Bnai Yisroel. He mentions the leaders, the elders and officers, every man, woman and child, every sort of convert. All these are included in he covenant which Hashem made to the Jewish people.

12. in order to establish you this day as His people, and that He will be your G-d, as He spoke to you, and as He swore to your forefathers to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. 13. But not only with you am I making this covenant and this oath, 14. but with those standing here with us today before the L-rd, our G-d, and [also] with those who are not here with us, this day.

Moshe explains that Hashems involvement with the Children of Israel started long ago when he spoke with our Father Avraham of the promise to give the holy land to Avrahams descendants. The covenant which Moshe told to the people is binding on every generation.

The next aliyah contains rebuke for those who do not hearken to the words of Hashem. If the Jewish people forsake the G-d of our fathers and follow after foreign dieties of wood and stone Hashem will be the one who destroys us.

15. For you know how we dwelled in the land of Egypt, and how we passed among the nations through which you passed. 16. And you saw their abominations and their repugnant idols [of] wood and stone, silver and gold which were with them. 17. Perhaps there is among you a man, woman, family, or tribe, whose heart strays this day from the L-rd, our G-d, to go and worship the deities of those nations. Perhaps there is among you a root that produces hemlock and wormwood. 18. And it will be, when he [such a person] hears the words of this oath, that he will bless himself in his heart, saying, “I will have peace, even if I follow my heart’s desires,” in order to add the [punishment for the] unintentional sins [of this man] to that of [his] intentional sins. 19. The L-rd will not be willing to forgive him; rather, then, the L-rd’s fury and His zeal will fume against that man, and the entire curse written in this book will rest upon him, and the L-rd will obliterate his name from beneath the heavens. 20. And the L-rd will separate him for evil, out of all the tribes of Israel, according to all the curses of the covenant, written in this Torah scroll. 21. And a later generation, your descendants, who will rise after you, along with the foreigner who comes from a distant land, will say, upon seeing the plagues of that land and the diseases with which the L-rd struck it: 22. Sulfur and salt have burned up its entire land! It cannot be sown, nor can it grow [anything], not [even] any grass will sprout upon it. It is like the overturning of Sodom, Gemorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, which the L-rd overturned in His fury and in His rage. 23. And all the nations will say, Why did the L-rd do so to this land? What [is the reason] for this great rage of fury? 24. Then they will say, It is because they abandoned the covenant of the L-rd, G-d of their fathers, [the covenant] which He made with them when He took them out of the land of Egypt, 25. For they went and served other deities, prostrating themselves to them deities which they had not known, and which He had not apportioned to them. 26. And the L-rd’s fury raged against that land, bringing upon it the entire curse written in this book. 27. And the L-rd uprooted them from upon their land, with fury, anger and great wrath, and He cast them to another land, as it is this day. 28. The hidden things belong to the L-rd, our G-d, but the revealed things apply to us and to our children forever: that we must fulfill all the words of this Torah.

Here we learn that Hashem can cast the Jewish people out of the holy land if they do not perform the commands which Hashem gave us. The next aliyah lays out Hashems plan of free will. Hashem gives us the opportunity to return to him by doing Teshuva. The parsha continues:

30:1. And it will be, when all these things come upon you the blessing and the curse which I have set before you that you will consider in your heart, among all the nations where the L-rd your G-d has banished you, 2. and you will return to the L-rd, your G-d, with all your heart and with all your soul, and you will listen to His voice according to all that I am commanding you this day you and your children, 3. then, the L-rd, your G-d, will bring back your exiles, and He will have mercy upon you. He will once again gather you from all the nations, where the L-rd, your G-d, had dispersed you. 4. Even if your exiles are at the end of the heavens, the L-rd, your G-d, will gather you from there, and He will take you from there. 5. And the L-rd, your G-d, will bring you to the land which your forefathers possessed, and you [too] will take possession of it, and He will do good to you, and He will make you more numerous than your forefathers. 6. And the L-rd, your G-d, will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, [so that you may] love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, for the sake of your life.

We learn that Hashem makes a promise to us that if we return to him he will redeem us by virtue of the covenant he made with our forefathers. He will clear the land of the wicked and implant us in the land which flows with milk and honey.

7. And the L-rd, your G-d, will place all these curses upon your enemies and upon your adversaries, who pursued you. 8. And you will return and listen to the voice of the L-rd, and fulfill all His commandments, which I command you this day. 9. And the L-rd, your G-d, will make you abundant for good in all the work of your hands, in the fruit of your womb, in the fruit of your livestock, and in the fruit of your soil. For the L-rd will once again rejoice over you for good, as He rejoiced over your forefathers, 10. when you obey the L-rd, your G-d, to observe His commandments and His statutes written in this Torah scroll, [and] when you return to the L-rd, your G-d, with all your heart and with all your soul.

Hashem tells us that Torah is not in the heavens, or far away, it is within our grasp.

11. For this commandment which I command you this day, is not concealed from you, nor is it far away. 12. It is not in heaven, that you should say, “Who will go up to heaven for us and fetch it for us, to tell [it] to us, so that we can fulfill it?” 13. Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us and fetch it for us, to tell [it] to us, so that we can fulfill it?” 14. Rather,[this] thing is very close to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can fulfill it.

In the final aliyah Hashem explains the working of Free Will. Hashem has set before us blessing and curse, life and death. He asks the Jewish people to choose life.

15. Behold, I have set before you today life and good, and death and evil, 16. inasmuch as I command you this day to love the L-rd, your G-d, to walk in His ways, and to observe His commandments, His statutes, and His ordinances, so that you will live and increase, and the L-rd, your G-d, will bless you in the land to which you are coming to take possession of it. 17. But if your heart deviates and you do not listen, and you will be drawn astray, and you will prostrate yourself to other deities and serve them, 18. I declare to you this day, that you will surely perish, and that you will not live long days on the land, to which you are crossing the Jordan, to come and take possession thereof. 19. This day, I call upon the heaven and the earth as witnesses [that I have warned] you: I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. You shall choose life, so that you and your offspring will live; 20. To love the L-rd your G-d, to listen to His voice, and to cleave to Him. For that is your life and the length of your days, to dwell on the land which the L-rd swore to your forefathers to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob to give to them.

Wow, this is a powerful lesson about how much Hashem loves the Jewish people. He has set his eye upon us to be a sign to the world of Hashems power in the universe. When we are doing our mission he will provide for us the rains in the proper time and make sure our endeavors are successful. When we deviate from our purpose and dont hearken to the commandments Hashems anger flares against us and we are expelled from his holy land.

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