SOB’s Grins & Grumps

Everything Between Heaven and Earth and Beyond

  • Copyrights and Contact

    Henric C. Jensen
    All images and Artwork are
    © 2006-2018 Henric C. Jensen

  • May 2022
    S M T W T F S
  • Categories

  • Meta

  • Recent Posts

  • Archives

Archive for the ‘Parasha Nitzavim’ Category

Second take on Parasha Nitzavim/Vayelech

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on September 7, 2007

Torah Portion, Nitzavim Deuteronomy 29:9 – 30:20

My first focal point:
Chapter 30:1-6

1. And it will be, when all these things come upon you the blessing and the curse which I have set before you that you will consider in your heart, among all the nations where the Lord your God has banished you, 2. and you will return to the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul, and you will listen to His voice according to all that I am commanding you this day you and your children, 3. then, the Lord, your God, will bring back your exiles, and He will have mercy upon you. He will once again gather you from all the nations, where the Lord, your God, had dispersed you. 4. Even if your exiles are at the end of the heavens, the Lord, your God, will gather you from there, and He will take you from there. 5. And the Lord, your God, will bring you to the land which your forefathers possessed, and you [too] will take possession of it, and He will do good to you, and He will make you more numerous than your forefathers. 6. And the Lord, your God, will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, [so that you may] love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, for the sake of your life.

And Hashem your G-d will return your captives: Rashi: It should have said “v’haishiv (meaning: will cause to return) your captives” Our Rabbis learned from this that the Holy Spirit, so to speak, dwells with Israel in their distress in exile and when they are redeemed, He writes redemption for Himself! – that He will return (from exile) with them. Another interpretation (of the use of “v’shav” – He will return): It can be said that the day of the Ingathering of the Diaspora is great and very difficult. It is as if He Himself will have to take the hand of each individual from his place (and bring him back from exile). As it says (Isaiah 27:12) “And you will be gathered one by one, you Children of Israel” And even by the other nations we find similarly (Jeremiah 48:47) “And I have retuned (Hebrew: “v’shavti”) the captives of Moav”.

It is very interesting to note that v. 3 implies that G-d Himself goes with Israel into exile, and is the One who brings them back as well – it is even more interesting to note that v.1 takes for granted that the pendulum of blessings and curses will indeed happen, and that this in itself will cause Israel to return, it leads the thoughts to ponder if this cause and effect back and forth is not something that is intended, and if read on a global individual scale it also implies that in fact, G-d cannot be found without trial and error? That we have to encounter both the blessings and the curses in order to be able to make a healthy choice? In that case v. 3 makes even more sense – in order to be found, G-d has to be right there, so He can return with us? We have to need Him in order for Him to be found? That would explain why G-d needs redemption as well – it’s a two way street. We need G-d, or we can’t keep going with the Program, but G-d has to be redeemed within us, to be of any use to us – so when we finally find what is our understanding of G-d, what has happened is G-d’s redemption and we are, together with G-d ready to return to sanity… I like that idea, the idea of us having to explore spirituality and ridding ourselves of false images of G-d and unearth within us OUR individual understanding of G-d and redeem G-d before trusting and turning our lives over to Him.

My second Focal Point:

Haftarah Isaiah 56:1-8

1 Thus said the Lord:
Observe what is right and do what is just;
For soon My salvation shall come,
And my deliverance be revealed.

2 Happy is the man who does this,
The man who holds fast to it:
Who keeps the sabbath and does not profane it,
And stays his hand from doing any evil.

3 Let not the foreigner say,
Who has attached himself to the Lord,
“The Lord will keep me apart from His people”;
And let not the eunuch say,
“I am a withered tree.”

4.For thus said the Lord:
“As for the eunuchs who keep My sabbaths,
Who have chosen what I desire
And hold fast to My covenant —

5 I will give them, in My House
And within My walls,
A monument and a name
Better than sons or daughters.
I will give them an everlasting name
Which shall not perish.

6 As for the foreigners
Who attach themselves to the Lord,
To minister to Him,
And to love the name of the Lord,
To be His servants —
All who keep the sabbath and do not profane it,
And who hold fast to My covenant —

7 I will bring them to My sacred mount
And let them rejoice in My house of prayer.
Their burnt offerings and sacrifices
Shall be welcome on My altar;
For My House shall be called
A house of prayer for all peoples.”

8 Thus declares the Lord God,
Who gathers the dispersed of Israel:
“I will gather still more to those already gathered.”

I love this passage, because it speaks in very simple terms about the simplicity of how G-d regards both His Torah and the human condition. No-one is excluded, and the demands are very simple – not necessarily easy, but simple:

1 Thus said the Lord:
Observe what is right and do what is just;
For soon My salvation shall come,
And my deliverance be revealed.

2 Happy is the man who does this,
The man who holds fast to it:
Who keeps the sabbath and does not profane it,
And stays his hand from doing any evil.

This is echoed in Micah 6:6-8:

6. With what shall I come before the Lord, bow before the Most High God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with yearling calves? 7. Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with myriad streams of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 8. He has told you, O man, what is good, and what the Lord demands of you; but to do justice, to love loving-kindness, and to walk discreetly with your God.

That’s it. Nothing we cannot do. In fact this is what the 12 Steps lead to – a close relationship with G-d, where it really doesn’t matter where we come from or what is our prior experience – what matters is that we walk with G-d one day at a time, and in the end we will all be ok. Really, we will all be ok.

Posted in Devarim/Deuteronomy 29:9 - 31:30, Dvar Torah, Haftarah, Isaiah 55:6 - 56:8, Parasha Nitzavim, Parasha Nitzavim-Vayelech, Torah | 4 Comments »

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!

Posted in Day of Atonement, Deuteronomy 29-30, Midrash, Parasha Nitzavim, Rosh HaShana, Torah, Weekly Parasha, Yom Kippur | Leave a Comment »

%d bloggers like this: