Moses’s Journey, and Ours

Moses’s Journey, and Ours

Sep 9, 2021 By Shuly Rubin Schwartz | Commentary | Vayeilekh | Shabbat Shuvah

Whenever I read the opening verse of this week’s parashah, I recall the other parashah that opens with the same verb: לך־לך (“Go forth”). Told to go, Abram heeded God’s call, uprooting his life and journeying—both physically and emotionally—first to Haran and then to the land of Israel. And now, as we near the end of the Torah reading cycle, Parashat Vayeilekh begins by attributing that very same action of journeying to Moses, as he nears the end of his life. What can we learn from the parallel acts of journeying that these two great leaders of our people undertook?

Read More
Democratizing Education: Lessons from this Week’s Parashah

Democratizing Education: Lessons from this Week’s Parashah

Sep 8, 2020 By Michal Raucher | Commentary | Nitzavim | Vayeilekh

Since the start of the stay-at-home orders in March, my eight-year-old son, Naftali, has studied Mishnah on Zoom in a “Mishnah Club” for kids, taught by Rabbi Ethan Tucker (KS ‘06) of Hadar Institute. While my spouse teaches Mishnah to middle school students and my own scholarship involves a healthy feminist critique of the talmudic Rabbis, Naftali had never encountered rabbinic literature. I feared that Naftali might get lost in the complexity, become overwhelmed with the details, or confused by the logic of rabbis from 2000 years ago. I was also curious as to whether he would actually see himself in this discourse.

Read More
The Choice

The Choice

Sep 15, 2017 By Rachel Rosenthal | Commentary | Nitzavim | Vayeilekh

Imagine if you could choose your future—not know it, but choose it. What would happen to you? Would you live forever? Would you choose how you were going to die? What would be your legacy? If you could, would you turn fantasy into reality?

Read More
Woodcutters and Water Drawers

Woodcutters and Water Drawers

Sep 15, 2017 By Shira D. Epstein | Commentary | Nitzavim | Vayeilekh

The opening verses of this week’s parashah pronounce that the entirety of Israel stands before God to enter into the covenant: the leaders, the elders, the officers; every man, child, woman, and convert, as well as the “woodcutters and water drawers” (Deut. 29:9–10). Unlike some other Torah excerpts that clearly demarcate mitzvot reserved for a particular classification of people, all people are told to show up in this moment. They are beckoned to view themselves as integral parts of an expansive and inclusive community.

Read More
The Strength of Our Communities

The Strength of Our Communities

Sep 18, 2011 By Abigail Treu | Commentary | Text Study | Nitzavim | Vayeilekh

At this season of self-reflection, our thoughts naturally turn to our own individual acts of the year gone by. But the teshuvah process climaxes on the Yamim Nora’im, when we stand together in packed sanctuaries, finding power in our solidarity as a community.

Read More
Torah and Teshuvah

Torah and Teshuvah

Sep 20, 2003 By Lauren Eichler Berkun | Commentary | Nitzavim | Vayeilekh | Rosh Hashanah | Yom Kippur

The beautiful and famous words of this week’s parashah have always touched my heart. This year, I read the following passage with new lenses, as I immerse myself in the month of Elul and the spiritual preparations for teshuvah. The Torah teaches:

“Surely, this Instruction (Ha-Mitzvah Ha-Zot) which I enjoin upon you this day is not too baffling for you, nor is it beyond reach. It is not in the heavens, that you should say, ‘Who among us can go up to the heavens and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who among us can cross the sea and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it?’ No, the thing is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to observe it” (Deut. 30:11-14).

Read More
How To Choose Life

How To Choose Life

Aug 31, 2002 By Melissa Crespy | Commentary | Nitzavim | Vayeilekh | Rosh Hashanah

We stand at an exciting and important time in the Jewish year. We stand less than two weeks before Rosh Hashanah, when so many of us will spend hours in synagogue praying for a good, healthy and fulfilling new year. We stand in a moment of transition, filled with potential. There is so much we can do, so much we can learn, so much we can become.

Read More
The Journey of Life

The Journey of Life

Oct 4, 2008 By Marc Wolf | Commentary | Vayeilekh | Shabbat Shuvah

There is so much fundamentally wrong with the world today. As Chancellor Eisen wrote in his High Holiday message this year, “On bad days, the problems seem utterly beyond managing. On good days, they call for a degree of judgment, sacrifice, and national unity seldom seen in our country or our world.” My fear is that we have actually become too accustomed to calamity; too proficient at responding to disaster.

Read More
The Covenant and the Land

The Covenant and the Land

Sep 19, 2014 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Nitzavim | Vayeilekh

At the opening of Parashat Nitzavim, the Israelites stand rooted before Moses and God. A captive and diverse audience, they are recipients of a message that is both immediate and transcendent in nature.

Read More
Be Strong and Resolute, Be Courageous and Strong

Be Strong and Resolute, Be Courageous and Strong

Sep 18, 2015 By Sarah Tauber (<em>z”l</em>) | Commentary | Vayeilekh

In 1974, Bob Dylan (born Robert Zimmerman) released his now famous song “Forever Young.” By that time Dylan was a father of four children and according to the lore of “Forever Young,” he composed the lyrics as a blessing to his youngest son, Jakob. Despite the title, the song actually centers on Dylan’s hopes for the kind of human being his son will grow up to become over time. In particular, he asks (prays?) as follows: “May you always be courageous / Stand upright and be strong.”

Read More