Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Parshas Netzavim

Standing By The Covenant

There is a cynical but unfortunately accurate statement rife in the ranks of diplomats that treaties are made to be broken. We here in Israel have plenty of experience with that viewpoint and assessment of international life. However, in this week’s parsha we are told that the Jewish people under the leadership of Moshe and just before his death entered into a treaty – a covenant with God that was never meant to be broken or unenforced. This covenantal treaty was not limited to its generation or its place and time. It binds those “who are here with us present today and those who are not present with us here today.” It combines the past, present and future of Jewry and its destiny into one unified whole and it makes clear that there really is no escape for any Jew individually and certainly not for the Jewish people as an entity from the terms of that covenant. The past century bears harsh witness to the unsuccessful and tragically inept attempt by many Jews and Jewish organizations and movements to sever their ties with Jewish tradition, the Jewish people or the Jewish future. Hitler, Stalin, Arafat and their ilk took the terms of the covenant with God more seriously than did many of the Jews themselves. Too our sad learning experience, we have been taught that the old covenant of Moshe is still operative over three millennia later. The comfort that we may derive from this realization is that all of the other terms of that covenant – the great and good future that it guarantees to us and all humankind - are also still binding and actual.

The word “nitzavim” that gives this week’s parsha its name means to be present and accounted for, to stand erect, to appear. There can be no better description of the duty of a Jew than this word “nitzavim.” Every Jew is responsible to be present and accounted for. Every Jew must be a proud Jew, standing erect and strong in one’s loyalty to tradition and Jewish values. The Torah specifically warns against any attempts to shirk one’s duty, to be absent without leave, so to speak. It is tantamount to desertion on the field of battle, the most severe crime in warfare. Only if we view ourselves in the light of having to report “nitzavim” for holy duty can we truly appreciate the import of the covenant and its binding quality upon us. “Nitzavim” is not history alone – it is a never-ending always-renewing challenge to the Jewish people as a whole and to each and every Jew individually. It is a call and challenge that cannot be ignored.

The parsha of Nitzavim always immediately precedes Rosh Hashana. It sets the tone for the days of mercy and forgiveness, for the heavenly judgments that mark the Days of Awe. On Rosh Hashana we pass before God, according to one opinion in the Talmud as “soldiers in King David’s army.” On Rosh Hashana, whether we wish so or not, we are all “nitzavim” before the heavenly court. If the rest of the year we are also to be counted as “nitzavim” than we can stand with pride and confidence before that court and pray for receiving its benign and merciful verdict.

B'virkat ketiva v’chatima tova – a good and happy year to all.

Rabbi Berel Wein


Text Copyright © 2005 by Rabbi Berel Wein and Torah.org


 






ARTICLES ON DEVARIM AND THE THREE WEEKS:

View Complete List

Review
Shlomo Katz - 5763

By The Rivers of Babylon...
Shlomo Katz - 5759

The Secret to Rebuke
Shlomo Katz - 5772

ArtScroll

The Foundation of Piety
Shlomo Katz - 5773

In the Eye of the Beholder
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5766

Flight to Freedom
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5763

> The Recognition of Shame
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5773

Choosing a Vision
- 5768

Table of Contents
Shlomo Katz - 5774

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Seeing HASHEM with Our Hearts
Rabbi Label Lam - 5772

Because of Us, not Through Us
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5770

The Nine Days of Mourning
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5758

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Love Your Neighbor
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5758

Only the Shadow Knows
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5764

Parshas Devarim - Eichah?
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5758

Elusive Allusions
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5764



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information