So we come to Nitzavim! This is one of the most powerful of our portions. We will meet it again in many congregations, on Yom Kippur. The passage follows right on last week’s portion and the listing of blessings and curses. Nitzavim reminds us of these choices, the fact that, in the end, we are urged to make choices that sanctify life (30:19).
I wanted to point out something that we often overlook and that, I think, relates to us, as we get older. The beginning of the passage contains the verses that call us to know that the covenant is not being made with just the Israelites “but both with those who are standing here this day before God and with those who are not here with us this day” (29:13,14).
If you look at these two passages from 29 and 30, you see a glimpse into our Biblical ideal of eternal life. How we choose to live impacts not only us, but also the future. These are passages that speak of legacy, that call us to remember the idea and value that, though we are here for a brief moment in time, one of the gifts we have is to set an example on living so our children and future generations can take comfort and meaning from what we did and how we lived. This Torah portion is really about the value of l’dor v’dor: generation to generation!
It is also a reminder that what we do, how we live and what we choose are not in a vacuum. We are part of a larger truth. We are links in that generational chain of Jewish life. The memories we make, the memories we hold dear from our ancestors; all merge in this portion, as they will spiritually merge during the Holidays. Nitzavim reminds us of the power of choice and the awesome responsibilities that go with it.
Rabbi Richard F Address
Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min, is the Founder and Director of www.jewishsacredaging.com. Rabbi Address served for over three decades on staff of the Union for Reform Judaism; first as a Regional Director and then, beginning in 1997, as Founder and Director of the URJ’s Department of Jewish Family Concerns and served as a specialist and consultant for the North American Reform Movement in the areas of family related programming. Rabbi Address was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1972 and began his rabbinic career in Los Angeles congregations. He also served as a part time rabbi for Beth Hillel in Carmel, NJ while regional director and, after his URJ tenure, served as senior rabbi of Congregation M’kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, NJ from 2011-2014.