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The Name of the Parsha - Nitzavim

The Parsha begins with the declaration: “You are standing firmly (nitzavim) today all of you together, before G-d, your G-d- the heads of your tribes…to your water-drawers- in order to bring you into the covenant of G-d, your G-d…”

At first glance, this declaration appears to contain a contradiction: It begins by saying, “You are standing firmly…all of you together” (without distinction); yet, it proceeds immediately to divide them into various and separate categories. Besides, what is the purpose of enumerating the various classes of Jews, from the highest to the lowest, after they had already been included in the general term “all of you” (כולכם).

But – herein precisely is to be found a basic “rule,” namely, that both go together: (a) “all of you”, meaning all as one, and (b) at the same time, however, each individual, man or woman, has his or her specific task and mission, each one according to one’s status and station in life.

Yet, the question begs to be asked: Since such a division is necessary, indeed such an extreme diversity – from “your heads” down to your “water-drawer” – how can they be so completely unified and merged to become “all as one”?

The answer is: “You are standing firmly this day, all of you – before G-d, your G-d.” The Hebrew verb (נצבים) is stronger than (עומדים), and means a firm stand, being deeply conscious of standing in the presence of G-d, Who is “your G-d” – your strength and your whole essence. In this – all Jews are equal, and this is what makes them all – one…

And the Torah goes on to explain: “All of you together” are divided into “the heads of your tribes” …down to your “water-drawer,” and each of them, with his distinct capacity (and his special endeavors) is brought into the covenant with G-d. Each individual endeavor, whether by one who belongs in the category of your heads and acts like a head, or in the category of water-drawer and acts as such, is an expression of the total covenant of all of you with G-d, your G-d. Each one has his special Divine assignment according to his status and station in life, and in this way – when each and every one carries out his assignment – the complete unity of the Jewish people – all as one – is achieved.

(excerpt from public letter written “In the Days of Selichos”5731)



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