The Portion of Nitzavim
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| Published: September 19, 2022
In this week’s reading, Nitzavim, Moses 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 Holy 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 Land. This portion also talks about freedom of choice and the mitzvah of teshuvah (repentance).
First Aliyah: On the final day of his earthly life, Moses gathered all the Israelites—men, women, and children—to enter them into a covenant with G‑d.
Second Aliyah: This covenant established the Israelites as G‑d’s exclusive nation. The covenant, Moses explained, was not limited to those who were physically present on that day; rather, it included all future generations of Jews as well.
Third Aliyah: Moses 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. Moses 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.
Fourth Aliyah: Moses 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, Moses 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.”
Fifth Aliyah: 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.
Sixth Aliyah: Moses 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.”
Seventh Aliyah: Moses 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. Moses implores the Israelites to choose life.
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