Nitzavim-Vayelech; slichot

Slichot

That we make mistakes is something we know and nobody needs to remind us of that. That the G-d of Israel loves His people, consisting of Jews and soul mates, and helps us through a process of healing and restoration is great news. We can never enough be reminded of that. This great news is what Moshe is conveying in parashat Nitzavim to his people. Hashem is faithful as we know. That means that our behavior cannot and will not change G-d’s dealing with and caring for us. If Hashem would only be faithful if we are nice to Him it would not be special. We are asked to love our neighbors and even our enemies. How much more is it that Hashem will be able to continue to be faithful to us in spite of our behavior. Condition is that Israel and the ger toshav (sojourner, soul mate) pass into the covenant. The covenant means protection, good health, rich harvests, healthy births as rights and keeping the commandments as duty.

And yet Moshe predicts that Israel will be dispersed. It is part of the learning process. We will be scattered into many countries (chapter 30). And that is how we will learn the difference between blessing and curse. We will get to know other people. We will be able to learn to respect people, We will learn from them and they will be able to learn from us. Our hearts will be circumcised and our children’s hearts. We will learn to love G-d with all our might. And we will be brought back, read 30:3, a proces which started to take place once again from 1948.

Moshe states that living by Torah is not something impossible as people are quick to say. Torah is not hidden nor is there something hidden in it. Torah is not distant or too far too reach and understand. Torah is meant to be our guide for everyday life and therefore it is not in heaven. Torah is for situations wherever we live and therefore it is not across the sea. Torah is practical and we can talk about it without being dependent upon the explication by scholars and rabbis. In other words it is in our mouths, in our mouths. And it should be a matter of our hearts and Moshe says that is where it exactly is. Application of Torah is the next step after understanding it. May Hashem be with us to succeed in it.

In the meantime life will not be easy. We will suffer hardship, because of our own mistakes and because of the cruelties of other people. But Hashem comforts us when He says through Isaiah: “For Zion’s sake I will not be silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be still, until her righteousness shall go forth like bright light and her salvation shall flame like a torch” (Isaiah 62:1). In other words Hashem will not wait till Messiah comes to fight for us. He will do it in the meantime, like now. For Zion’s sake and for Jerusalem’s sake, which means that G-d binds Himself to accompany and protect us because of the eternal promises bound to these Jewish objects. For us it means that the faithfulness and protection of Hashem are issues we can count on, in spite of ourselves. Hashem is faithful, to Himself. That makes His love toward you and me true reality.

Free translation of part of the Haftorah text (Isaiah 61:10-11 and 62:1 and 2)
Rejoice with the Lord, let your soul cry out in joy with Hashem. Because He has given you salvation and He delivers you, like a baby in the delivery room. He dresses you in the coat of righteousness like you could never do yourself. The righteousness you deserve He will give to you. G-d will do this because you love Zion and Jerusalem, His beloved objects of promise. Whatever situation you are in, helpless and powerless as you might feel about it and about yourself, it is your Papa in heaven who is going to fight and care for you. You are His beloved daughter or son. He will make sure that no harm will be done to you. Cling on to Him, trust that He will do it, for you. He will even give you a new name which your parents had not given to you.

Shabbat shalom,
Lion S. Erwteman, Rosh Kehillat Beth Yeshua
Amsterdam, Holland