KETIVAH VECHATIMA TOVAH – A GOOD WRITING AND SEALING!
- Show me Your way, O Eternal One,
and lead me on a level path because of my watchful foes.
- Do not subject me to the will of my foes,
for false witnesses and unjust accusers have appeared against me.
- Had I not the assurance that I would enjoy the goodness of the Eternal One
in the land of the living…
- Look to the Eternal One;
be strong and of good courage!
O look to the Eternal One!
From ReformJudaism.org https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/nitzavim
Nitzavim (נִצָּבִים — Hebrew for “You Stand [This Day]”)
You stand this day, all of you, before the Eternal your God–you tribal heads, you elders, and you officials, all of the men of Israel, you children, you women, even the stranger within your camp, from woodchopper to water drawer… – Deuteronomy 29:9-10
- Moses tells the assembled people that God’s covenant speaks to them and to all of the generations who will follow. (29:9–14)
- God warns the Israelites that they will be punished if they act idolatrously, the way the inhabitants of the other nations do. (29:15–28)
- Moses reassures the people that God will not forsake them and that they can attain blessings by following God’s commandments. (30:1–20)
Isaiah 61:10-63:9 concludes the cycle of seven haftarot of consolation after Tisha B’Av, leading up to Rosh Hashanah and the Yamim Nora’im (Days of Awe). It features God’s salvation, redemption, mercies and compassion. This year Rosh Hashanah begins the evening of Sunday, September 25, 2022.
From ReformJudaism.org https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/nitzavim
By: Rabbi Jacqueline Mates-Muchin [Senior Rabbi, Temple Sinai, Oakland CA]
STRUGGLING WITH TORAH and REFLECTION
You can read this week’s Torah Portion at https://www.sefaria.org/Deuteronomy.29.9-30.20
From “The Torah / A Women’s Commentary” edited by Dr. Tamara Cohn Eskenazi and Rabbi Andrea L. Weiss, Ph.D.
נצבים Nitzavim – Deuteronomy 29:9–30:20
Covenantal Choices by Dalit Rom-Shiloni, pp. 1217-1218
PARASHAT NITZAVIM (“stand”) contains the bulk of Moses’ third and final speech in the book of Deuteronomy, his last exhortation in Moab to observe the covenant. In this address, which began at the end of the previous parashah (29:1–8), Moses foreshadows the full sequence of iniquity, judgment, repentance, and deliverance that he predicts Israel will experience. He concludes his words with an impassioned plea to his audience to “choose life” (30:19) by adhering to the torah (Teaching), a choice that will guarantee peace and prosperity.
Each of the three units of parashat Nitzavim brings out its two governing themes–presence versus absence, and exposure versus concealment. The first part of the parashah (29:9–28) emphasizes the inclusion of every single member of the community in the covenant and their participation in the covenant ceremony. Women and men, officials and laborers, those standing before Moses in Moab and future generations–all commit themselves to uphold the terms of the covenant. This commitment leads to a warning against secret disobedient behavior, followed by a depiction of the fierce judgment God will unleash upon the land and the people if they turn away from God.
The second part of the parashah (30:1–10) opens with a promise of restoration once the people repent. Repeatedly, here and in the subsequent unit, Moses calls upon the people to love God with all their hearts and souls (vv. 6, 16, 20). This formulaic language is familiar from elsewhere in Deuteronomy (particularly 6:5), reminding the people that they must fulfill their part of the covenant through their fierce loyalty to God and God’s teachings.
The third part of the parashah (30:11–20) returns to the subject of the covenant and the contrast between the overt and the covert. Moses assures the people that the “Instruction” (mitzvah) is not hidden or beyond reach, but is close and obtainable (30:11–14). He stresses that God gives each individual and the entire people two clear choices: “life and prosperity, death and adversity” (30:15). With heaven and earth as witnesses to the covenant, Moses implores the people to choose life instead of death, blessing instead of curse (v. 19).
One of the hallmarks of this parashah is the inclusion of women in the list of social groups participating in the covenant ceremony. The explicit mention of women in 29:10 leaves no doubt that women are part of the people obliged to follow God’s covenant. Nevertheless, their position in the list designates their lower status in ancient Israelite society (see at 29:9–10). The parashah refers to women again in 29:17 as part of a list of possible sinners. Thus, the text affirms that women and men alike, not only those preparing to enter the Promised Land but also the generations to follow, have the potential either to break or to maintain the covenant: it is “in your mouth and in your heart, to observe it” (30:14).
Another View – by Elsie R. Stern, p. 1228
THE CLOSING VERSES of parashat Nitzavim are frequently invoked as evidence of the Torah’s insistence on human free will. According to Deuteronomy 30:15–21, God presents Israel with a clear-cut and seemingly obvious choice between obedience, which will lead to life, and disobedience, which will lead to death. This free-will paradigm argues that Israel is responsible for its fate and that national misfortune is caused by Israel’s disobedience of the covenant. To modern historians, events like the conquest of the northern kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians (8th century B.C.E.) or the destruction of the southern kingdom of Judah by the Babylonians (6th century B.C.E.) would be evidence of Israel’s essential powerlessness in the face of stronger nations. However, this parashah and other biblical texts insist that Israel is not a pawn at the mercy of foreign powers, but instead is wholly responsible for its own fate.
Although this articulation of free will in these verses has been central to Jewish self-understanding for centuries, in the parashah itself this notion was largely theoretical. When the exilic or post-exilic authors or redactors imagined the scene of covenant-making that occurred in the mythic past, they already knew the choice that Israel would make. If Israel experienced exile, Israel must, by definition, have made the wrong choice–namely, disobedience.
The pressing question then becomes not whether Israel has free will, but how Israel can achieve reconciliation after having made its self-destructive choice. This concern generates the other view of history articulated in this parashah: the notion that Israel’s history is a repeated sequence of iniquity, judgment, repentance, and deliverance. The Bible reiterates this pattern in the book of Judges, which frames legends about Israel’s past within statements regarding Israel’s disobedience and punishment, followed by Israel’s repentance and deliverance (as in Judges 3:5–15). Israel repeatedly disobeys the covenant and embarks on the journey of t’shuvah (repentance) that carries it from iniquity to deliverance. Thus, in Deuteronomy and other biblical texts, free will becomes operative not in moments of initial obedience or disobedience, but later, in the choice whether or not to repent, where the right decision ultimately leads to redemption.
HIGH HOLY DAYS – 5783 – Shanah Tovah uMetukah – Anyada Buena i Dulce!
Given the uncertainty of the current pandemic, concern for the wellbeing of our highly at-risk members, and the excellent online resources available from other congregations, Temple Kol Hamidbar is NOT holding Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur Services this year.
The Union for Reform Judaism and various congregations within the Reform Movement are providing online resources to anyone interested in participating in services. In some cases, registration is required. You may want to visit the following websites for their latest information on the High Holy Days and how to access them.
Kol Ami (formerly Temple Emanu-El and Congregation Or Chadash), Tucson, AZ https://katucson.shulcloud.com/
Congregation Or Ami, Calabasas, CA https://orami.org/hhd/
Temple Sinai, Oakland, CA https://www.oaklandsinai-hhd.org/
The Union for Reform Judaism https://reformjudaism.org/jewish-holidays/rosh-hashanah/how-find-high-holiday-community-wherever-you-are
From “Mishkan T’filah / A Reform Siddur”:
FOR OUR COUNTRY p.516
THUS SAYS ADONAI, This is what I desire: to unlock the fetters of wickedness, and untie the cords of lawlessness; to let the oppressed go free, to break off every yoke. Share your bread with the hungry, and take the wretched poor into your home. When you see the naked, give clothing, and do not ignore your own kin.
O GUARDIAN of life and liberty, may our nation always merit Your protection. Teach us to give thanks for what we have by sharing it with those who are in need. Keep our eyes open to the wonders of creation, and alert to the care of the earth. May we never be lazy in the work of peace; may we honor those who have [served, suffered or] died in defense of our ideals. Grant our leaders wisdom and forbearance. May they govern with justice and compassion. Help us all to appreciate one another, and to respect the many ways that we may serve You. May our homes be safe from affliction and strife, and our country be sound in body and spirit. Amen.
We recite MI SHEBËRACH for the victims of abuse, brutality, conflicts, fear, natural disasters, pandemics, tragedies, violence of all kinds especially directed at individuals and specific communities including us, and war; for all those at home alone or lonely; for all those in need of physical, emotional, and mental healing. “R’fuah sh’lëmah” – a complete recovery!
We say KADDISH YATOM for those of our friends and families who have died and been buried this last week; those in the period of Sh’loshim (30 days since burial); those who have died in the last year; and those whose Yahrzeits/Anyos occur at this time; as well as the victims of brutality, conflict, disease, natural disasters, pandemics, tragedies, violence of all kinds, and war.
This week we lovingly remember:
Relative of Temple Kol Hamidbar Member
Father of TKH Founding Member Simon Rosenblatt
This coming week, the 28th of Elul through the 5th of Tishri, we lovingly remember:
Father of Diana Turner
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg
Am Yisrael – Jewish Woman of Valor
Those victims of the Sho’ah (Holocaust) who died at this time of year.
“ZICHRONAM LIV’RACHAH” – MAY THEIR MEMORIES BE FOR BLESSING.
TORAH STUDY AND SHAZOOM
We will meet as usual at the regular times for Torah Study and Shazoom this evening, Friday, September 23, 2022. During Elul, Mary Caron will sound the Shofar before the start of Shazoom.
Zoom regularly updates its security and performance features. Making sure you have the latest version of Zoom, please join us online this evening with wine/grape juice for Kiddush and Challah for Motzi.
Topic: Torah Study – Nitzavim (triennial part) Deut. 29:9-30:20
Time: Sep 23, 2022 06:00 PM Arizona
Shazoom – Erev Shabbat Service
Time: Sep 23, 2022 07:30 PM Arizona
To join Torah Study and/or Shazoom click on the following link [you may need to copy it into your browser]: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/72510500854?pwd=Z3VQZWF4U1BBZytNYmh3aHFTWkFDZz09
Meeting ID: 725 1050 0854
Hint: The last character of the password is the number zero.
Shabbat Shalom – Buen Shabbat!
PS – Some High Holiday Greetings besides Shanah Tovah:
Tizkú Leshaním Rabbót (“May you merit many years”),
to which the answer is Ne’imót VeTovót (“pleasant and good ones”)
Muchos Anyos (“many years”) to which the answer is I Muchos Mas (“and many more”) or Dulces i Buenos (“sweet and good [ones])