Sedra of the Week: Nitzavim
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Sedra of the Week: Nitzavim

Rabbi Jonny Roodyn looks ahead to this week's portion of the Torah

Rabbi Jonny Roodyn

Our pre-Rosh Hashanah parsha begins: Atem Nitzavim Hayom Kulchem Lifnei Hashem Elokeichem (You stand this day, all of you, before Hashem your God). 

The Chasidic luminary, Rav Leibele Eiger, explained that the use of the term hayom, today, in the present tense, means here “every day”, we stand in the presence of the Almighty.

The last two sedras were called Ki Teitzei, “when you go out” and
Ki Tavo, “when you come in”.  

However, now, just before Rosh Hashanah, we are Nitzavim, “standing still”. We may move from place to place, job to job, or friend to friend,
but that’s just external travel. 

In truth, we are stationary, because each of us stands in God’s presence.
In fact, Rabbi Moshe Isserles (the Rema), at the start of his commentary to the Shulchan Aruch (code of Jewish Law) implies that the purpose of all mitzvot is to develop a constant awareness of being in the presence of God. 

We all lead such busy lives that it’s all too easy to forget what life is about and the things that really matter to us. 

Often, owing to our hectic schedules, we can only appreciate the things we value when we no longer have them. 

Nitzavim is always read before Rosh Hashanah to remind us that especially now we need to stop for a moment and reflect on that which is truly
important. 

As we approach Rosh Hashanah, one of the best ways to prepare is to realise that we are always in the presence of Hashem and to consider the implications of His existence and His plan for the world. 

This is the focus of all the Rosh Hashanah prayers and the key to
a meaningful life. 

Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy new year.

  • Rabbi Jonny Roodyn is education director of Jewish Futures and serves Finchley Federation Synagogue
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