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

    Aliya Summary: Moshe told 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 implored the Israelites to choose life. Moshe informed the people that he is 120 years of age on that day, and he is not permitted to cross the Jordan River together with them. Instead, Joshua will lead them, and G‑d will go before them and destroy their enemies. Moshe enjoined the Israelites to be strong and not fear their enemies.

    From ou.org: The concept of Free Will is beautifully expressed in the concluding Aliya 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, while animals do not.

  • Dvar for Nitzavim-Vayelech (Deuteronomy 29:9-31:30)

    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-Vayelech, Shlishi (3rd Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: When G‑d gathers His people’s exiles, 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. Moshe enjoined 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.”

    The last three words of the portion are very instructive. Thoughts, words, deeds. Teshuva, repentance, certainly contains all three elements. One must act repentant, by stopping to do the particular sin and by doing the mitzva. He must sincerely regret having done wrong and accept the proper path for his future. This is in the realm of thought. And Verbal confession to G-d is an essential ingredient of the T’shuva process. So too, one can see that many mitzvot – the whole Torah, really, is kept with words, thoughts, and deeds. This isn’t really an either-or situation. The Aliya can apply both to the general and the specific.

  • 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.

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