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To Stand Before G-d – Parasha Nitzavim

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on September 11, 2006

Devarim 29:9 – 30:20



“The Torah reading of Nitzavim (Deuteronomy 29-30) is always read on the Shabbat before Rosh Hashanah, as we prepare to stand before G-d to be judged for our deeds of the bygone year. These closing days of the year are a time for self-examination, for a thorough assessment of our mission in life and the steps we have taken—and need yet to take—toward its realization.

Nitzavim thus opens with Moses’ statement to the people of Israel: “You stand today, all of you, before G-d your G-d: your heads, your tribal leaders, your elders, your officers, and all men of Israel; your children, your wives, and the stranger in your camp; from the hewer of your wood to the drawer of your water.”” (Wisdom Reb)

This Parasha asks us to do the almost impossible – it asks us to be personally responsible as individuals on a collective level. This is the “We” of all the prayers in the Siddur – the moment when we are both completely transparent to G-d as individuals and as a People. G-d is counting His Children – this is a census. Do we count ourselves among “the hewers of wood and the drawers of water”, and consent to be counted or do we prefer that G-d didn’t SEE us?

Judgement. To most of us it sounds harsh, cold and final. Everything we are or have done, are not and have not done is being scrutinized – or so we think about “Judgement” – but is that truly the point of Rosh ha-Shana? Is that why G-d is holding a census?

Perhaps what G-d wants more than anything is to SEE us there, before Him, like any Father would want to SEE his family, his children? Perhaps that is the purpose of this Holy Day – a Feast Day when G-d is celebrating with His Children up close and personal. A Feast Day when we look forward to the new coming year with hope that it will bring us joy, growth, life and more opportunity to make Dad proud. G-d wants us to Meet Him face to face, trusting that He, like the King in the Midrash will meet us on the Road – knowing that what we lack He will add, so that we meet the Family Standard.

“All Present and Accounted for!”

Rosh HaShana kicks off those days leading up to Yom Kippur – The Day of Atonement – The Day of Awe – when we clean house, make sure that those things we failed at during the past year gets a re-view and a re-newed committment – and not just for those who are actually there, but also for those who are absent, either in mind or body. On Rosh HaShana we start over, with a full deck – and those who are not there in some way, will be counted as if they were – G-d takes one look at “us” and says: “All Present and Acounted for” – in many ways Rosh HaShana is a repeat of The Revelation on har Sinai – we were all there – now we are being counted again, and deemed accountable.

I like being seen as accountable, I like being responsible, being part of that “We”, that regardless of personal culpability is being counted as responsible for those who are not counting themselves as we move towards Yom Kippur.

Do you count yourself?

May we all have a good and sweet year ahead of us, come Rosh HaShana. May we all be Present and Accounted for!

Shabbat Shalom!

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