Sedra of the Week: Nitzavim-Vayelech

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Sedra of the Week: Nitzavim-Vayelech

Rabbi Zvi Solomons looks ahead to this shabbat's portion of the Torah

Rabbi Zvi Solomons

Nitzavim-Vayelech is a very dramatic Torah portion. Spoken by Moses right on the very edge of the crossing of the Jordan, the Jewish people are reminded of their duties and their covenant with the Almighty. We follow God’s laws, and He will be our God and protect us.

During this month of Ellul, we have the opportunity to consider our own actions in the past year, and how we can become better people, in the year ahead. Even were we not to believe in God, this would be a fruitful exercise. As Jews, we are connected to God by a covenant, that we shall follow his laws, and He shall be our God. The previous Parasha tells us what will befall us if we fail to keep our part of the deal, in a long and painful curse. 

This week, on the brink of the great endeavour of conquering Canaan, Moses reminds us of this contract. It is eternal, and it is made with our descendants forever.

It is unusual to bind future generations to any contract, but God and the Jewish people have a relationship that transcends the normal human law. Our ancestors at Sinai bound us to God in accepting the Torah. We renewed this on crossing the Jordan and accepting our destiny. It was again renewed, as recounted in the Book of Esther, when our ancestors accepted the Torah.

In the wake of the Holocaust, Rabbi Yitz Greenberg suggests God broke his covenant with the Jewish people. We, however, remained faithful despite the destruction
unleashed upon our families.

Some suggest this interpretation is excessive. Regardless of any breach, we should bear in mind our relationship with God all year, particularly the High Holy Days, when God is enthroned as our King and Judge, as well as our loving father.

In these days of the Covid pandemic, it can do no harm to consider how we can best respond to Moses’ challenge, to renew our Jewish lives as we enter the New Year.

  •  Rabbi Zvi Solomons serves the Jewish Community of Berkshire in Reading

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