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Home » Nitzavim

Nitzavim: Food for Thought for your Dinner Table

Submitted by on September 23, 2008 – 4:59 pmNo Comment | 2,794 views

Sunday: Unity of Parts

“You stand firmly today, All together [as one], the heads of your tribes, elders, guards… young children, women, converts…” This verse begins by emphasising the unity of the gathering, they stood together [as one], then it enumerates the distinctions between the classes gathered on that day.

Unity is easy to preach, but difficult to practice. It is difficult for an elder or leader to feel compatible with a junior member of the tribe because there are, after all, distinctions; one has worked many long and hard years and the other has not. It is only when every member of the tribe learns to appreciate the unique contribution of every other member that unity becomes possible. Then the leaders realize that despite their high rank, the overall goal cannot be accomplished without the unique contribution of each member. This is the ultimate equalizer that inspires true unity. Likutei Torah

Monday: Speaking to Us

“I am not striking this covenant only with you …  but [also] with those who are not here today.” Rashi interprets this verse as an illusion to future generations. Our sages taught that the soul of every future Jew was present at that time to take this oath; otherwise it would not be possible to require of those who were not present to accept the obligation.

Many people ask why G-d conceals Himself. “If only He would reveal Himself,” they say, “and instruct me to keep the Torah, I would keep it.” What these people don’t realize is that G-d has already done precisely that. We might not have memory of this event, but it has been recorded for posterity in the Torah. 

Tuesday: Wrath of Love

“G-d uprooted them from their land with anger, fury and great wrath and He cast them to another land.” One of the letters of the word “and He cast them” is written, in the Torah, in bold and large font. This letter, the Lamed, is the largest in the Hebrew alphabet and that it is written large indicates that there is a large or great secret within the casting of our people to another land. The exile, though it is a punishment, is nevertheless a symptom of Divine love. Rather than kill His children, G-d expends His wrath on stone and land.

Furthermore, if He did not love us He would not bother to reprimand us. The exile is thus a hidden message of deep love and it is the role of the large Lamed to reveal this love to us. Rabbeinu Bachye

We might expand on this idea and suggest that the Lamed is related to the notion of love in that it is the first letter of the Hebrew word Lev, which means heart.

Wednesday: When Moshiach Comes

“You will turn to G-d… you and your children … with all your heart and soul and G-d will gather you from among the nations.” The proximity of the words “all your souls” and the words ”G-d will gather you” is explained by the statement of our sages, “Moshiach will come when the chamber of souls is depleted.”

There is a chamber in heaven filled with the souls of all Jews destined to be born and when the last of these souls is born Moshiach will come. However, it is not sufficient that the souls are merely born, they must also fulfill their mission by living a G-dly life. This is implied by the verse that tells us that only when we and our children turn to G-d with all our souls, meaning every Jew destined to be born returns to G-d with all their souls will G-d gather in our exile. Ramban

Thursday: A Double Ingathering

The Torah speaks of two exiles and two redemptions. The first exile is described as being cast into another land to this day. The second exile is described as being banished among the nations. These refer to the first exile of ten lost tribes and the second exile of the final two tribes.

Several decades before the Temple was destroyed Sanheirub of Assyria conquered Israel and exiled ten of the twelve Jewish tribes. These tribes were never heard from again, but Jewish legend maintains that they have all been transferred to a single location where they reside to this day. This is consistent with the description quoted earlier, “and he cast them into another land to this day.” Several decades later Nebuchanezar conquered Judea and exiled the last two tribes. Rather than exile them to one location he disbursed them among the nations. This exile is aptly described in the Torah as being “banished among all the nations.” When Moshaich comes all twelve tribes will be reunited and will return to Israel. Rabbeinu Bachye

Friday: Near to You

“For it [the Torah] is very near to you, in your mouth and in your heart to observe it.” This verse seems to imply that it is very near [easy] to observe the Torah in our hearts, yet in fact it is difficult to inspire true love for G-d.

The last words of the verse, “to observe it,” qualify the meaning of the words, “in your heart.” It speaks not of an intense passionate love, but of a steady dependable love, that is sufficient to inspire observance of the Mitzvot. This love need not be generated for it is already “in our heart,” it need only be revealed. We are capable of controlling our thoughts and we can choose to think thoughts that fan the flames of our latent love for G-d. This love will spur our observance of His commandments and it is not very difficult to nurture. On the contrary, “it is very near” to us. Tanya

Shabbat: Free Choice

Is the principle of free choice consistent with G-d’s foreknowledge of the choices we make?

We recognize that knowledge of our past deeds does not impact the freedom with which we made those choices in the past. This illustrates that, in its strictest form, knowledge of a deed is distinct from the deed itself. The only reason we suppose that knowledge of the future presupposes determination of those future choices is that we cannot know the future unless it is already determined. However, G-d who lives in the past, present and future at once knows the future as we know the past. It therefore follows that His knowledge does not dictate our choices, on the contrary, our choices dictate His knowledge. Likutei Sichos

Edited by Rabbi Yeruchem Eilfort, Director of Chabad at La Costa.