Saturday, September 13, 2014

Parshat Nitzavim: Survival for Your Body & Soul

         How does this weeks parsha effect us in our days today? The learning of the parsha is not only the study of our past, our present, our future, but most importantly it is the WORD of GOD. If you learn to properly delve into the parsha you will understand what Hashem is trying to tell us, His precious children to be aware of, to work on and succeed to be better individuals. This parsha in particular always gives illumination and enables you to react to challenges on a sophisticated level.
Parshat Nitzavim always coincides with Rosh Hashana and gives us guidance as to how we can prepare ourselves for the special days of the High Holidays, Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. The parsha begins with the words, "Atem nitzavim hayom kulchem lifnei Hashem Elokeichem"- " You are standing today, all of you, before Hashem, your God," (29:9). In gematriya (numerical value) these words are equal to "La'Amod L'slechot"- " To stand before God and seek forgiveness." during the entire year we are so busy and occupied with the materialistic world that we tend to forget to our spiritual needs and closeness to Hashem. However, now Hashems' day of judgment is upon us and we are commanded to stand still, probe are souls, examine our hearts, and give an accounting of our lives to Hashem. The passuk continues saying the various groups of the population: the elders, the officers, the men, the small children, the women. The passuk already mentioned "all of you," so why would the Torah find it important to mention each group separately even though it is obvious about who the passuk is speaking about? We learn that every word in the Torah has a meaning and significance as to why it is written so the Torah is coming to teach us that we are responsible for one another. Our destiny is intertwined. The Jewish people are like one  body, and if just one joint is injured, the entire body is in pain; if one limb is amputated, the entire body is disabled. So too, it shows the importance of a single person in the Jewish nation. If one of us is missing, we are all diminished; if someone in the Jewish world is in pain we too, feel the pain in some way. The way we pray is in plural, r'fa'einue- heal us; shema kolenu- hear our voices etc. This lesson is very important to us today because we are the generation that is destined to go through the birth pangs of Mashiach. Chazal teach us that one way to protect ourselves during this difficult time is to unify ourselves, to forgive and to empathize with the our brother and sisters in the Jewish nation. If we can do that then we can be sure that Hashem will forgive us for our sins.
           There is another interesting understanding to "Atem netzavim"- "you are standing today, all of you, before Hashem, your God." In last weeks parsha, parshat Ki Tavo it discussed all the terrible and painful calamities that would befall Bnei Yisrael, and they were scared. The Midrash teaches us, that they turned colors. Moshe calmed them down with the powerful opening words of our parsha: "Atem nitzavim hayom kulchem lifnei Hashem Elokeichem... You are standing today, all of you, before Hashem, your God." In those words are to be found the secret of our miraculous survival. No matter what the Jewish nation went through in all centuries, various countries we must always see ourselves standing before Hashem. That is the secret of our miraculous survival. Mentioned above, we understood that "Atem nitzavim..." has the same gematriya (numerical value) of the words "La'amod Le'slichot", which teaches us that all we need to do is come near to Hashem with our heart and mind and verbalize our feelings towards Hashem, our father, our king. All a person needs to do is to do teshuva.

Derived from "Torah for Your Table" by Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis.

פרק ל פסוקים טו-יט) ראה נתתי לפניך היום את החיים ואת הטוב ואת המות ואת הרע...ובחרת) בחיים למען תחיה אתה וזרעך

See, I have placed before you today the life and the good, and the death and the evil... and you shall choose life, so that you will live, you and your offspring. (30:15-19)

Why was it necessary to write And you shall choose life? Isnt it expected that a person should choose life?

The answer is, that even when the choice between good and evil, blessing and curse is clear, it may not be the easiest choice. Sometimes, pressure from others and even from ourselves, makes us forget where our real priorities should lie. This verse in Parsha Nitzavim, like Moses encouragement of Joshua before entering the Land, are meant to strengthen us, reminding us you shall choose love Hashem, your G-d, to listen to His voice and to cleave to him, for He is your life and the length of your days...

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