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Moses appointed twelve emissaries to scout out the Holy Land and return with a report. The representative for the tribe of Ephraim was Moses’ primary disciple, Joshua. Until this time, the lad’s name was Oshua. But Moses added a letter to his name and called him Joshua.
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Home » Nitzavim, Vayelech

Nitzavim Vayelech: Genuine Growth

Submitted by on September 10, 2006 – 4:52 amNo Comment | 2,607 views

To Tell or Not To Tell

On the first day of school, hoping to impress the class with his experience, my brother’s teacher listed the many schools where he had taught over the previous decade. One boy , dully impressed, but not quite in the way the teacher had hoped, wondered, “Why were you  fired so many times?”

It is always difficult to determine just how many previous employments should be listed on a resume or in a job interview. Listing too many places conveys sophistication, but a lack of loyalty.  Listing too few places conveys a sense of steady dependability, but a lack of versatility.

Indeed, this is the very question we ponder when we consider changing our location or place of employment. Moving around prevents us from laying down roots and building upon previous successes. Staying in one place can result in missed opportunities.

How do we balance these two important, but contradictory considerations?

Two Portions

The name of a Torah portion often reflects the general theme of the portion. The Hebrew names of the two portions that are read this week are Nitzavim and Vayelech.

Nitzavim means to stand firmly; to remain firmly committed to one vocation or spot. Vayelech means to move forward; to seek out new possibilities.

At first glance the two seem contradictory, yet when we probe their inner meaning we discover that they are compatible and even complimentary.

In analyzing the two names we notice the order in which they are arrayed. First, Nitzavim; we commit ourselves to our original position. Only then, firmly rooted in our original state, do we permit ourselves to Vayelech; move forward and seek out new possibilities.

We must always ask ourselves why we are seeking these opportunities. Is it because we are generally malcontent, unable to remain in one place for long or have we maximized our full potential in our current area and find no further room for growth? genunine growth - innerstreamThe latter is an acceptable reason to relocate, the former is not.

Only when we have maximized our potential in our current location is it appropriate to move forward. At that point, remaining stationary can cause stagnancy and complacency.

Review your Relationships

When we move into a new community and lay down roots with intention to remain we naturally reach out to form new friendships and associations. When our stay is intended as temporary we tend to shy away from deep bonds. “Why form bonds,” we ask ourselves, “if they are unlikely to last?”

Indeed, when Moses declared that the nation Nitzavim, stood firmly before G-d, he pointed out that they stood together. Leaders and princes stood alongside children, proselytes, wood-hewers and water-carriers.

A good way to measure the extent of our commitment to a community is to gauge our friendships within that community.

If you entered the community with a migratory mindset, you would not have developed genuine relationships with those around you. If you have developed genuine friendships, chances are that you have fully engaged your community. If you want to relocate, it is probably because you’ve maximized your potential there rather than because you never tried to make it work.

Stationary Mobility

What can you do if you realize that you never did lay down firm roots and never really tried to make it work? Must you force yourself to stay even when your heart wants to leave?

We are, of course, free to choose and may choose to leave, however, there are other options to consider. We might consider remaining in place and satisfying our desire for mobility by introducing new and innovative ideas to our existing framework.

This too is implied by the juxtaposition of the two Torah portions. It is possible to achieve the enthusiasm and momentum of Vayelech (mobility) even when we remain Nitzavim (stationary). New horizons are not always found in new locations or places of employment. It is often possible to remain in our current position and find a novel approach that would stimulate us anew.

New Resolutions

As we approach Rosh Hashana we would do well to incorporate these ideas into our preparation for the new year. We resolved at the end of last year to improve in certain Mitzvot. But as we look back we realize that we did not live up to those expectations and we wonder how to approach the coming year.

Should we dispense with last year’s resolutions and try new ones or should we recommit ourselves to last year’s resolutions and pursue them till we succeed?

The proper approach is a combination of both. We must strengthen our resolve from last year and work to improve in those areas. At the same time, in an effort to generate new enthusiasm, we must also try our hand at new resolutions.

May we succeed in our resolutions and may we be granted a healthy and good new year.