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

Moshe gathers the Jews on the final day of his earthly life to enter them into another covenant with G-d. Moshe declares that everyone is standing before G-d, and lists leaders, tribes, elders, officers, and every man of Israel (29:9-11). The one term that doesn’t seem to belong in this group is “tribes” since it doesn’t refer to a specific person, whereas all the other terms do.

While Rashi suggests that the term goes together with leaders to read “tribal leaders,” the wording in the passuk seems to indicate a separate group. Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis proposes that the term “tribes” refers, in fact, to the people who run the tribes behind the scenes. This term conveys the essence of what we should be, not people focused on titles, but people that do what matters and what needs to be done. Greatness is not achieved through positions or titles but exemplary behavior and deeds. As we near Rosh Hashana, our focus should remain on positive actions that generate meaningful change.