Parsha, Nitzavim: Choice of the Blessing or the Curse

Some of us have been watching Ken Burn’s documentary, The U.S. and the Holocaust. I’ve seen many documentaries and films about the Holocaust over the years, but none as vivid, disturbing and thoughtful as this one. Along with daily news about the atrocities committed by Russia to the people of Ukraine, I have been numbed witnessing “man’s inhumanity to man.”

This week’s Parsha, Nitzavim, calls upon us, in an act that’s now sounds more like defiance, to “STAND UP, NITZAVIM ATEM HAYOM.”

29:9 “You are standing here today, all of you, in the presence of the Eternal your God—your leaders and chieftains, your elders and officials, and all the other people of Israel, together with your children and your wives, and the foreigners living in your camps who chop your wood and carry your water.

You are standing here in-order to enter a covenant with the Eternal your God, a covenant the Eternal is making with you this day and sealing with an oath, to confirm you this day as his people, that he may be your God as he promised you and as he swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

I am making this covenant, with its oath, not only with you who are standing here with us today in the presence of the YHVH our God but also with those who are not here today.”

There’s a lot riding on our shoulders. Later in the Parsha we are reminded that we are given the choice to choose between the blessing and the curse, good and evil. We make mistakes, we can be apathetic. But the power of Teshuva is inherent in the universe. Rav Kook taught “the world must inevitably come to full repentance, Teshuva. The world is not static, but it continues to develop…”.

The Parsha instructs us to forgive, to do Teshuva, to be resilient and to STAND UP, to do the right thing, to address life’s challenges. Taking that path gives us purpose and joy.

L’Shanah Tovah Tikateyvu,  Reb David

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