• Daily Aliya for Nitzavim-Vayelech, Sheni (2nd Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Moshe informed the Israelites what will occur after they are exiled from their land due to their sins. Eventually they will wholeheartedly return to G‑d, and G‑d will gather them from the furthest reaches of the heavens and return them to the land of their forefathers. At that point, Moshe says, “G‑d will ‘circumcise’ your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you may love the L-rd your G‑d with all your heart and with all your soul.”

    There’s another way we can look at things here: Teshuva is a gift from G-d. He doesn’t have to command it, He just has to let it be possible, and we should jump at the opportunity. The Torah doesn’t have to tell us to repent, just how to do it. Yet Vidui, verbal confession, is a positive commandment. That means that doing something good for ourselves (eliminating harmful behavior) is not only good for us inherently, but also earns us double points (could this be the origin??).

  • Daily Aliya for Nitzavim-Vayelech, Rishon (1st Aliya)

    General Overview: In this week’s reading, Nitzavim-Vayelech, Moshe gathers the Israelites on the day of his passing to enter them into a covenant with G‑d. He warns of the exile and desolation of the Land that will result when Israel abandons G‑d’s laws, but assures them that they will eventually repent, and G‑d will then return His people to the Holy Land. This Parsha also talks about freedom of choice and the mitzvah of teshuva (repentance). Moshe transferred leadership to Joshua and wrote a Torah scroll which he handed over to the Levites. Moshe commanded the Israelites to gather following every Sabbatical year.

    Aliya Summary: On the final day of his earthly life, Moshe gathered all the Israelites — men, women, and children — to enter them into a covenant with G‑d, establishing the Israelites as G‑d’s exclusive nation. Moshe warned the Israelites not to be tempted by the idolatrous lifestyles of the Egyptians and the other sundry nations through which they had passed in the course of their travels. Moshe warned of the dire consequences which will befall the individual, family, or tribe, which would forsake their covenant with G‑d. This section concludes with the concept of communal responsibility for not appropriately punishing individual sinners.

  • Daily Aliya for Nitzavim, Shvii (7th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Moshe tells the Jewish people that they have been given free choice to choose between good and evil, life and death. Their choice will determine whether they are the beneficiaries of G‑d’s blessings or curses. Moshe implores the Israelites to choose life.

    The concept of Free Will is beautifully expressed in the concluding portion of Nitzavim. It marks the difference between human beings and all other creations. The sun and the moon “fulfill” G-d’s commands without conscious decisions. A bee doesn’t think things out and decide to pollinate a flower. Nor does a lion attacking a weak zebra evaluate the morality of his act. Only humans have the choice to do good or evil. G-d recommends and pleads with us to choose Life and Good, but He leaves the choice to us. That is why we are accountable for our actions; and that is why we stand before G-d in judgment on Rosh HaShana – animals do not. The choice is offered, but not only does G-d “command” us to choose Life, He warns us again of the devastating results of the wrong choice. Heavens and Earth are called upon to witness this most significant fact of human existence. It is the Land of Israel that is the “prize” for choosing wisely, as G-d had promised Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov. G-d reconfirms His covenant and promises to us.

  • Daily Aliya for Nitzavim, Shishi (6th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Moshe enjoins the people to follow the mitzvot, informing them that “it is not beyond you nor is it remote from you. It is not in heaven… It is not across the sea…. Rather, it is very close to you, in your mouth, in your heart, that you may do it.”

    But how can we hope to keep our part of the agreement? Is not the Torah so exalted and remote that a mere mortal has no chance of attaining spiritual heights? The answer is eloquently stated in the famous words of the Torah – For this mitzva is not in the heavens nor is it across the ocean. It is so very close and attainable that every Jew can feel confident in taking up its challenges. It is up to us to make the commitment, feel it in our hearts, and ACT upon it.

  • Daily Aliya for Nitzavim, Chamishi (5th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: When G‑d gathers His people’s exiles, the curses which accompanied them throughout their sojourn in foreign lands will be placed upon their enemies who persecuted them. The Israelites will once again serve G‑d, and will be blessed with abundance in the work of their hands, the fruit of their wombs, the fruit of their land, and the fruit of their livestock.

    If (when) we return to G-d, then G-d will rain the curses upon our enemies. We have only to be faithful to HaShem and keep His mitzvot, and all His blessings will be showered upon us. Again a “pitch” is made for T’shuva. And again. And the T’shuva should be completely sincere.

  • Daily Aliya for Nitzavim, Revii (4th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Moshe informed the Israelites what will occur after they are exiled from their land due to their sins. Eventually they will wholeheartedly return to G‑d, and G‑d will gather them from the furthest reaches of the heavens and return them to the land of their forefathers. At that point, Moshe says, “G‑d will ‘circumcise’ your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you may love the L-rd your G‑d with all your heart and with all your soul.”

    From the perspective of absolute justice, if we break the terms of our agreement with G-d, punishment should be swift and complete. But we could not survive such an existence. This portion of Nitzavim tells us that if (when) we break the covenant and are dispersed among the nations of the world as punishment, all hope is not lost. We have the golden opportunity to return to G-d – and He will help the process along. This too becomes part of the agreement with G-d. The concepts of return in a physical and spiritual sense are intermingled in this Torah portion.

    The wayward Jew turning back towards HaShem and the Torah, and the exiled Jew to a distant land coming back to Israel are presented simultaneously. This represents the dual nature of T’shuva. What a wonderful opportunity beckons each Jew – and the Jewish People as a whole – in being given a second chance to live a true Torah life.

  • Dvar for Nitzavim (Deuteronomy 29:9-30:20)

    Parshat Nitzavim starts by proclaiming that “you are all standing here today” (29:9), and then proceeds to use the words “this day” two more times in the next 3 verses, none of which were actually needed for their corresponding sentences to be complete. What significance is the Torah placing on “this day”?

    As Rabbi Abraham Twerski points out, there are two natural roadblocks placed before us as we endeavor to become better people and better Jews, and both of these roadblocks can be overcome by focusing on “this day”: The first natural roadblock is our inclination to look ahead at temptations and hurdles we WILL encounter, and our feelings of frustration and helplessness in overcoming those collective obstacles. The Torah therapeutically empowers us to focus on one day at a time, and leave tomorrow’s worries for another day. The second natural roadblock we face is the guilt of our past, which can sometimes make us feel depressed and unworthy.  We have today to repent for those things we shouldn’t have done.

    With the past behind us, and a whole new year ahead of us, it’s nice to know that we don’t have to wait to become better people… the time is right now, and “this day” is just right!

  • Daily Aliya for Nitzavim, Shlishi (3rd Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Moshe warned the Israelites not to be tempted by the idolatrous lifestyles of the Egyptians and the other sundry nations through which they had passed in the course of their travels. Moshe warned of the dire consequences which will befall the individual, family, or tribe, which would forsake their covenant with G‑d. This section concludes with the concept of communal responsibility for not appropriately punishing individual sinners.

    The phrase describing what we would today refer to as a “rotten apple” is “Shoresh Poreh Rosh V’laana”, literally a poisonous root of gall and wormwood. The initial letters of this phrase rearrange to spell SHOFAR, the antidote to this negative facet of Jewish life. The Shofar must awaken the one who stray and start him on the road of T’shuva.

  • Daily Aliya for Nitzavim, Sheni (2nd Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: This covenant established the Israelites as G‑d’s exclusive nation. The covenant, Moshe explained, was not limited to those who were physically present on that day, rather it included all future generations of Jews, as well.

    OU: The second three-pasuk set proclaim that it is not just the entire People of Israel who were alive at the time, who are making this covenant with G-d, it is also our ancestors to whom G-d made His special promises, and to the generations of Jews in the past AND the future, whose spirit (souls) we represent at this covenant. Perhaps this is the meaning of the prophecy to Avraham that his descendants will be as countless as the stars of the heavens. Take the millions of Jews alive today, add the millions who have preceded us, add the – how many more? – future generations, and we can truly be called “without number”. Nations that have come to an end, can be numbered. An eternal people cannot ever be counted.

  • Daily Aliya for Nitzavim, Rishon (1st Aliya)

    General Overview: In this week’s Parsha, Nitzavim, Moshe gathers the Israelites on the day of his passing to enter them into a covenant with G‑d. He warns of the exile and desolation of the Land that will result when Israel abandons G‑d’s laws, but assures them that they will eventually repent, and G‑d will then return His people to the Holy Land. This Aliya also talks about freedom of choice and the mitzvah of teshuvah (repentance).

    Aliya Summary: On the final day of his earthly life, Moshe gathered all the Israelites — men, women, and children — to enter them into a covenant with G‑d.

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