This week, we read the Torah portion of Nitzavim – Moses’ words to Israel as he knows his hours are few. This week, we enter Shabbat, preparing for Rosh Hashanah, as we pray for what only God can give us: time.
Moses immediately tells Israel that we are all standing together right now. Whether we are leaders, followers, women, men, elderly, or infants, we meet in this moment, at the threshold of covenant with God. We all stand equally. But, Moses is not standing equally with anyone because he knows the day he will die, and he knows his prayers won’t be answered. He stands alone inside our greatest human fears. Yet, as always, he has so much to teach us.
Moses reminds us that at the core of everything Jewish will be God, Torah, and each other. We will house our spiritual expressions in the teachings of Torah, and we will argue with each other about what it means. Then Moses specifically warns us not to think Torah is a treasure buried somewhere out in the world. It is not a search for external truth. Moses tells us the Torah is close to us, it is in our hearts, and when in doubt, we should always look inward.
Soon, we will stand together on Rosh Hashanah, as we enter the holiest time of our year, and we will ask God for time. We offer God our honest, internal reflections from the past year, as we experience what Moses tried to tell us. We have a voice in our destinies, a tremendous gift, and as we gather to pray on Rosh Hashanah, we will make our voices heard. Sometimes prayer is a whisper and sometimes prayer is thunder.
Jews everywhere will whisper our fears to God, as we raise our voices to create the thunder of ‘Avinu Malkeinu’. In the end, across millennia of years, we indeed stand where Moses said we would: Nitzavim hayom, “Today we stand together.”
I’d like to wish everyone a Shabbat shalom, and a sweet, healthy, and happy year to come.
May we use our time of Shabbat rest to gather our resources for the holiness of Rosh Hashanah.