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 Reform Judaism https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/nitzavim-vayeilech
Nitzavim – Vayëlech (נִצָּבִים – וַיֵּלֶךְ Hebrew for “You Stand [This Day]”/ “[Moses] went”)
Deuteronomy 29:9-30:20, 31:1-30
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 went and spoke these things to all Israel. He said to them: “I am now one hundred and twenty years old, I can no longer be active. Moreover, the Eternal has said to me, ‘You shall not go across yonder Jordan.'” – Deuteronomy 31:1-2
- 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)
- Moses prepares the people for his death and announces that Joshua will succeed him. (31:1–8)
- Moses instructs the priests and the elders regarding the importance of reading the Torah. (31:9–13)
- God informs Moses that upon his death, the people will commit idolatry and “many evils and troubles shall befall them.” God tells Moses to teach the people a poem that will “be My witness.” (31:14–30)
Selichot is observed
This haftarah 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 Friday, September 15, 2023. This haftarah corresponds to Parashat Nitzavim-Vayëlech.
From ETZ HAYIM TORAH AND COMMENTARY
Copyright © 2001 by The Rabbinical Assembly
THE SEVEN HAFTAROT OF CONSOLATION p. 1032
The Seven Haftarot of Consolation follow the Three Haftarot of Admonition (puranuta) that were recited on the three Sabbaths before Tish-ah b’Av. As the synagogue calendar progresses, these 10 haftarah readings are followed by one chosen especially for the Shabbat that precedes Yom Kippur. Thus we have a cycle of special haftarot for this period, each unrelated to the parashah that is read on Shabbat.
From Reform Judaism https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/nitzavim-vayeilech
By: Rabbi Talia Avnon-Benveniste
STRUGGLING WITH TORAH and REFLECTION
For Torah Study, instead of the portion from the Book of Deuteronomy that is read on this Shabbat, we will read Isaiah 61:10-63:9. You can read this week’s Torah Portion at https://www.sefaria.org/Deuteronomy.29.9-31.30, and the Haftarah at https://www.sefaria.org/Isaiah.61.10-63.9
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
Post-biblical Interpretations – by Claudia Setzer, pp. 1210-1
You stand this day, all of you…from woodchopper to water drawer (29:9–10). Midrash Kohelet Rabbah 1.12 teaches that these verses should have been placed at the beginning of Deuteronomy, directly following the initial statement, “These are the words that Moses addressed to all Israel on the other side of the Jordan” (1:1). In this midrash, the Rabbis included Deuteronomy 29:9–10 among other biblical verses cited to substantiate the rabbinic dictum that the Torah does not follow a chronological order (“There is no before or after in Scripture”). With this suggestion, the Rabbis accomplish two things. First, 29:9–10 clarifies that “all Israel” in 1:1 includes tribal heads, elders and officials, children and women, as well as strangers within the camp. Second, they stress that 29:9–10 is a direct address to the people Israel. Juxtaposing these two verses emphasizes that Moses addressed all Israel, and that all Israel stood present “to enter into the covenant of your God YHVH ” (29:11).
with those who are standing here with us this day…and with those who are not with us here this day (29:14). This verse is part of Moses’ speech to the Israelites in Moab, but the Rabbis connected it with the revelation at Sinai (Exodus 20), where all Jews–present and future–are said to have participated in the revelation of Torah. According to Midrash Sh’mot Rabbah 28.6, the Rabbis wondered why the verb “standing” was not also used in the second part of the verse, which simply reads, “who are not with us.” They suggested that the Torah was referring to future prophets and sages, whose words of wisdom appear in later parts of the Written and Oral Torah, respectively, but who were not physically present at Sinai because they had not yet been born: “Those are the souls who will one day be created…. Since there is not yet any substance in them, the word ‘standing’ is not used with them.”
A similar tradition in BT Sh’vuot 39a uses 29:13–14 to teach that all future generations of Israel, including all future converts, were at Sinai. Although these traditions do not refer explicitly to women, Sh’mot Rabbah 28.2 affirms their presence. Noting an apparent redundancy in Exodus 19:3, “Thus shall you say to the house of Jacob and declare to the children of Israel,” the midrash asks why the Torah mentions both the house of Jacob and the children of Israel. The answer is that “the house of Jacob” refers to the women and “the children of Israel” refers to the men. Indeed, the midrash further imagines that God addressed the women first in order to prevent a repetition of the catastrophe in the Garden of Eden when God initially commanded Adam, but Eve (who had not heard God’s directive first-hand) transgressed “and spoiled the world.” God, therefore, addressed the women first so they would not also “nullify the Torah.”
It is not in the heavens (30:12). Midrash D’varim Rabbah 8.6 imagines a dialogue based on 30:12–14 in which the Israelites ask Moses, “If the Torah is not in the heavens, nor beyond the sea, where is it?” Moses answers, “It is in a place very near, in your mouth and in your heart that you may do it.” The emphasis on “doing” Torah, meaning living by it, is made clear by a rabbinic interpretation of Leviticus 26:3, “If you faithfully observe My commandments,” literally “If you keep My commandments and do them.” Midrash Vayikra Rabbah 35.7 teaches of those who learn Torah without “doing” Torah, that it would be better if they had not been born.
In a famous talmudic story known as the “Oven of Achnai” (JT Mo’ed Katan 3:1, 81c–d; BT Bava M’tzia 59a–b), in the midst of a legal dispute ostensibly about the ritual purity or impurity of an oven, Rabbi Yehoshua stands up and quotes this verse, proclaiming, “It [the Torah] is not in the heavens.” Despite miraculous evidence supporting the oven’s purity, Rabbi Yehoshua sides with the majority of the sages in declaring the oven impure. In doing so, he asserts that the Torah belongs to humanity (or at least to the Rabbis) here on earth–not “in the heavens.” Miracles and even divine proclamations cannot overturn a community’s ruling. Thus the Talmud teaches that although the Torah was given by God, it remains ours to interpret.
וילך Vayeilech – Deuteronomy 31:1–30
Post-biblical Interpretations – by Meira Kensky, pp. 1245-7
He said to them: I am now one hundred and twenty years old, I can no longer be active (31:2). Some commentators could not imagine that Moses was deficient in any way. Ibn Ezra suggested that “I can no longer be active” meant that Moses could no longer wage war. A sage in BT Sotah 13b asserted that in his old age the “sources of wisdom” were stopped up for Moses to prevent his being troubled by the transfer of leadership to Joshua.
Gather the people–men, women, children, and the strangers in your communities (31:12). While the Rabbis apparently took for granted that the entire community of Israel was required to hear the divine “Teaching,” medieval interpreters (not usually known for their egalitarianism) wondered why the women were included. Rashi emphasized the distinction between the men and women: whereas the men were there to learn, the women were capable only of listening. Tanna D’Vei Eliyahu, a book of midrashim collected in the 10th century C.E., uses this verse to prove that it is the man’s responsibility to ensure that every member of his household follows the law faithfully (p. 112). The medieval commentator Nachmanides disagreed, emphasizing in his comments on this verse that the women who were present also learned to fear God.
When Moses had put down in writing the words of this Teaching to the very end (31:24). What does this “Teaching” constitute? Most of the Rabbis understood it to refer to the entire Torah, although they debated whether Moses actually wrote the last eight verses of Deuteronomy that recount his death (see BT Bava Batra 14b–15a). This understanding of Mosaic authorship is present in the Dead Sea Scrolls, where quotations from the Torah are often introduced by “Moses said,” or “as written in the Book of Moses.” However, Tannah D’Vei Eliyahu specifically designates God as the author, maintaining that the Torah was composed before the creation of the world (p. 160) (see Midrash B’reishit Rabbah 1.1). According to this midrash, the divinely revealed words are only called the “Torah of Moses” on account of God’s great mercy toward Israel’s greatest prophet. Several early interpretations of the Bible, such as the pseudepigraphical book of Jubilees, note that the purpose of the writing down of the Law was to remind future generations of the terms of the covenant and of Israel’s obligations to fulfill it. The Testament of Moses 10:11, another, pseudepigraphical book, emphasizes that it was now Joshua’s responsibility to keep the words and the book.
Take the book of Teaching and place it beside the Ark of the Covenant…. Then Moses recited the words of the following poem to the very end (31:26, 30). Rabbinic and medieval commentators wondered about the relationship between the “Teaching” (torah; 31:9, 11–12, 24, 26) and the “poem” (shirah, often translated by others as “Song”; 31:19, 21–22, 30). According to Midrash Sifrei D’varim, this shirah (Deuteronomy 32), in which Moses calls upon heaven and earth as witnesses, is known as the “Song of Moses.” Since 31:26 designates the Torah as witness against Israel, some of the Rabbis smoothed out the relationship between the “Teaching” and the “Song” by equating the two (see BT Sanhedrin 21b and BT Chulin 133a).
Although some commentaries interpret the poem as testimony by Moses against Israel, following the literal reading of 31:26, other rabbinic texts demonstrate that Moses frequently defended Israel to God. Thus, BT B’rachot 32a recalls that following the episode of the Golden Calf, God said, “Let Me alone and I will destroy them” (9:14); but Moses immediately “stood up, prayed vigorously, and begged for mercy” on Israel’s behalf. According to Midrash D’varim Rabbah 3.11, “Moses left no corner in heaven upon which he did not prostrate himself in prayer” on Israel’s behalf (also Midrash Sh’mot Rabbah 42.9). BT Sanhedrin 111a–b teaches that Moses continued to advocate for Israel, even after his death.
Then Moses recited the words of the following poem (31:30). The Rabbis speak of ten sublime “poems” (or “songs”; Heb. shirah) in the Hebrew Bible that mark central events in the history of the people of Israel; although they differ on the exact listing of the ten, they all include this poem (Midrash M’chilta, B’shalach, Shirta 1). Several of the other songs mentioned are specifically associated with women, including the Song of Miriam, in which she sang and led the women in dance (Exodus 15:20–21), and the Song of Deborah (Judges 5). Both celebrate Israel’s victories over its enemies. According to the M’chilta, B’shalach, Shirta 1, the tenth song will be recited in the messianic era: “Sing a new song to יהוה; / sing God’s praise, all the earth” (Isaiah 42:10).
HIGH HOLY DAYS – 5784 – Shanah Tovah uMetukah – Anyada Buena i Dulce!
Please watch for emails from Dr. Sam Caron, Congregational President, regarding Temple Kol Hamidbar’s plans this year for observing Rosh Hashanah (evening of Fri, Sep 15 – Sun, Sep 17, 2023) and Yom Kippur (evening of Sun, Sep 24 – Mon, Sep 25, 2023). As practiced in Israel, the Reform Movement observes one day of Rosh Hashanah.
In the meantime, various congregations within the Reform Movement are still 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
SELICHOT – nightfall Saturday, September 9, 2023
In Sephardic tradition Selichot (penitential prayers) are recited every morning starting the second day of Elul. In Ashkenazi tradition Selichot are recited starting with a special service beginning the Saturday night immediately before Rosh Hashanah. If the first day of Rosh Hashanah falls on a Monday or Tuesday, then the service is held the Saturday night one week prior. This ensures that Selichot are said at least four times. In the Reform Movement generally, the Saturday Selichot Service begins at nightfall. Sadly, we are unable to provide this beautiful service which highlights the 13 attributes of mercy, please check the internet for any online services.
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 coming week, 23 Elul through 29 Elul, we lovingly remember:
Friend of Jane Kolber
Father of TKH Founding Member Simon Rosenblatt
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 – UPDATED
We will meet as usual at the regular times for Torah Study and Shazoom this evening, Friday, September 8, 2023. 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 – Haftarah Nitzavim-Vayëlech: Isaiah 61:10-63:9
Time: Sep 8, 2023 06:00 PM Arizona
Shazoom – Erev Shabbat Service
Time: Sep 8, 2023 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]
Meeting ID: 819 9759 2957
Shabbat Shalom – Buen Shabbat – Gut Shabbos!
PS – Some High Holiday Greetings besides Shanah Tovah and Chag Samëach:
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])
PSS – About the Book of Isaiah:
From Jewish Encyclopedia
From My Jewish Learning
From Torah.org (includes Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel)
From Wikipedia (refers to Proto-Isaiah, Deutero-Isaiah, Trito-Isaiah)
Timelines from Wikipedia