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[Dvar Torah] Nitzavim and Rosh Hashanah

This week's parsha, Nitzavim, is always read on the Shabbat before Rosh Hashanah. This passage has numerous parts that relate to Rosh Hashanah. The book of Nitzavim discusses our devotion to G-d, the Torah, as well as the mitzvot. In this portion, Moshe talks about the covenant between G-d and Israel, insisting that Israel uphold the covenant and follow the ways of the Torah for a meaningful life in the land of Israel. 

In Hebrew, the word Nitzavim (ניצבים) means “you are standing”. Moshe was telling  the Israelites “You are all standing this day before Hashem, your G-d” exhorting them to keep their side of the agreement; the covenant, by keeping the mitzvot. 

Seems from this parsha, that being Hashem’s people depends on keeping this covenant as Moshe states in the next verses: “[...] to enter into the covenant of your G-d, which your G-d is concluding with you this day [...] in order to establish you this day as G-d’s people and in order to be your G-d, as promised you and as sworn to your fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” (Dvarim 29,11-12)

On the other hand, G-d addresses in many other places in the Torah (for example in the next parasha of Haazinu) - how His bond with the Jewish people is totally unconditional. Even when they will sin and as a result be banished from Israel, dispersed among the nations - even then Hashem will not forget His people and they will eventually return to their own selves, to their land and to live by His Torah. 

How do we solve this contradiction? Rashi, in the verse above, gives an outstanding explanation: “because He has promised it unto you and has sworn unto your fathers not to exchange their descendants for another nation. For this reason He binds you by these oaths not to provoke Him […] since He, on His part, cannot dissociate Himself from you” (Rashi on Dvarim 29,12)

Meaning to say - the bond between Hashem and Israel is unconditional and unbreakable. The purpose of the covenant is to bind the Israelites by oath to keep the mitzvot as they represent G-d as His people. If they misbehave, it desecrates G-d Himself. 

When we wear the Elsa uniform we represent the School. On a larger scale we represent Hong Kong, we represent the Jewish people  and even the whole human race. On a smaller scale we represent our class, we represent our families and obviously our own selves.

Before Rosh Hashanah, when we better ourselves at the start of the new year - we need to remember we have the choice to be good representatives on every scale.

Shabbat Shalom,

Orly, Grade 12