This week’s portion Nitzavim Deuteronomy 29:9-30:20 is one of the shortest in the Torah, with a mere 40 verses (next week’s Vayelech has only 30). Even when the two are combined, which happens most years, they number fewer verses than most other single portions. The verses themselves, however, are longer than those in most other portions.
The portion is part of Moses’s final speech to the Children of Israel, delivered on the last day of his life. He uses this opportunity to at once warn the people that their actions have consequences, meaning they will be severely punished if they transgress God’s laws, and to reassure them that God will welcome them back if they repent. He impresses upon them their responsibility for one another.
Topic 1: A Warning
This week’s portion continues with the theme of renewing the covenant between the Children of Israel and God. Moses addresses the entire nation directly, delineating the specific groups — man, woman, child; elder, convert, servant — who are present, telling them both they and those not present today are entering into a permanent covenant with… Read More »
Topic 2: A Reassurance
After warning the people what will befall them if they stray from God’s service, Moses reassures them that all is not lost. When these things befall the nation, they will be moved to return to God. God will then bring them back from exile among the nations and restore them to their land, with greater… Read More »
Topic 3: The Torah and its Blessings are Accessible
Just in case everything he has told them seems impossible, Moses tells the people that the Torah is imminently accessible to all of them. It is not in heaven or across the sea, where they would need someone to fetch it for them, but it is a choice which God has given to each person.… Read More »
This incredibly short portion tells of Moses passing the torch onto Joshua. He tells the people that Joshua will lead them into the land of Israel, and offers Joshua words of encouragement. God does likewise. Also in the portion, God tells Moses to record a song which the Children of Israel will learn, so they never forget that any suffering they experience is the result of their own actions.
Topic 1: Some Last-Minute Arrangements
As Moses prepares for his own death, he reminds the people that he will not be leading them into the Promised Land; rather, God will go before them and Joshua will be His representative. Moses tells them God will wipe out their enemies, just as he did with Sihon and Og. He then addresses… Read More »
Topic 2: God Addresses Moses and Joshua
God tells Moses to call Joshua forth, so that He may address him. The two stand before God at the tent of meeting, and He tells Moses that upon his death, the people will stray towards idolatry. God will punish them by hiding His presence, allowing evil to befall them. The people will say it… Read More »
Topic 3: Moses Charges the Levites
The Torah then returns to Moses’s instructions to the Levites regarding the Torah he has recorded. He commands them to lay it by the Ark of the Covenant, where it should serve as witness. He reminds them that they have been rebellious during his lifetime, and he has no reason not to anticipate their continued… Read More »