Beit Midrash

  • Torah Portion and Tanach
  • Nitzavim
קטגוריה משנית
  • Jewish Laws and Thoughts
  • Repentance
To dedicate this lesson
This last Sedra of the year, Nitzavim, seems perfect as a precursor to Rosh Hashana. It begins by stressing the unity of the Jewish People: "You are all here together, from the heads of the tribes to the simple citizens; the men, the women & the children; the natural-born citizens & the converts." It even includes all those who are not present today: our ancestors as well as our descendants.

The sedra reiterates the bond & covenant we have with the Eternal: You will be My people, & I will be your G-d. Then there is a rather fearful warning of what can (and will) happen to us if we stray from the path of Hashem - plagues, fire & brimstone, exile from our land, utter devastation - as well as the blessings that are ours when we keep the covenant: prosperity, an abundance of children, victory over all of our enemies & Redemption. All this in one of the shortest parshiyot in the Torah!

But I suggest that the key to all these momentous events comes in just a very few p'sukim where one basic word is repeated over and over again:

V'shavta ad Hashem Elokecha; "V'shav Hashem Elokecha et sh'vutcha; "V'shav v'kibetzcha mikal ha-amim; "V'ata tashuv v'shamata b'kol Hashem; "Ki tashuv b'chal l'vavcha u'v'chal nafshecha.

The word, of course, is "lashuv, to return," and it is the root & the very essence of Teshuva.

Our primary mission is to return. To return to a time when we were pure, innocent, without sin. When we were less cynical, less critical & more idealistic, more optimistic.

To return to Hashem, who loves us, who daily performs miracles on our on our behalf & passionately wants us to reach our potential, if only we choose to walk His path.

And to return, as a nation, to Israel - the only land created specifically for us, the land "upon which the eyes of G-d are focused," where our Divine destiny can be fulfilled.

"Teshuva," of course, has another meaning: The Answer. Ironically, even as we go forward to a New Year, we must at the same time also go back, we must work to return to the holy vessel, the person that we were created to be. That's the real answer to the challenge that lies before us.

May all of our tefilot be answered by Hashem for good – this year & all years.
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