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Parashat Nitzavim (Deuteronomy 29:9-30:20)

“Surely, this commandment which I command you today is not too baffling for you,
nor it is beyond reach.” (Deut. 30:11)

Parashat Nitzavim is the most inclusive parasha, or portion, in the Torah. The entire people stands together to renew the covenant: the highest officials and the lowliest laborers; men, women, and children (Deut. 29:9-11). Even the people who aren’t there are there: “I make this covenant, with its sanctions, not with you alone, but both with those are standing here with us this day before the Lord our God and with those who are not with us here this day. “ (Deut. 29:13-14)

The Torah signals the intensity of the moment by not using omdim, the usual Hebrew word for standing, but rather, nitzavim, which connotes standing with attitude and anticipation, leaning in, as it were. The Torah also signals the importance of the moment by repeating the word hayom, today, five times in the first five verses, and another two times later in the parasha. Since the number seven represents wholeness and completion, this clearly is a “moment.” But exactly what moment is it?

Rabbi Dr. Analia Bortz (bio-ethicist and rabbi at Congregation Ohr Hatorah in Sandy Springs, GA) suggests Nitzavim presents the ultimate social network, collapsing all of history, past, present, and future, into a super-concentrated moment of connection two thousand years before Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram,. Those who are present? Face time. Those who are not present? Tagged. All Jews are implicated in that moment.

Social networks exert powerful influence on individuals: your friends’ friends’ beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors affect your choices, whether you know it or not. In that same way, Nitzavim’s moment drives Jewish life to this day.

Gut Shabbos/Shabbat Shalom
Gut Yohr/Shana Tova

David

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