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The Torah's Weekly Portions
Deuteronomy/Dvarim - Nitzavim 101
Posted September, 2000
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Parashat Nitzavim is the fourth to last Parashah in the Torah and will be the last one covered this year as next week we prepare for Rosh Hoshanah, the New Year.  This week's Parashah begins at Perek Chav-Tet, pasuk tet (Chapter 26, verse 9) and includes everything through Perek Lamed (Chapter 30).  Although the theme that will be discussed in this week's commentary has been raised previously, this week sheds some additional light on the concept of the eternal nature of the covenants between God and the Jewish people.  To put this is context, we look toward the beginning of this Parashah: 

9. You are standing today, all of you, before Hashem, your God - the heads of your tribes, your elders, and your officers -- all the men of Israel:

10. your small children, your women, and your proselyte who is in the midst of your camp, from the hewer of your wood to the drawer of your water:

11. for you to pass into the covenant of Hashem, your God, and into His imprecation that Hashem, your God, seals with you today:

12. in order to establish you today as a people to Him and that He be a God to you, as He spoke to you and as He swore to your forefathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob:

13. Not with you alone do I seal this covenant and this imprecation:

14. but with whoever is here, standing with us today before Hashem, our God, and with whoever is not here with us today: 

The key points are at verses 13 and 14.  But to be understood, it is necessary to see what comes before. 

Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch says the following: 

Just as unlimited as the people are to whom the obligation ot the covenant and the oath applies, so unlimited is the duration of the period to which the covenant of the Torah which is here made extends.  It includes every single person belonging to Israel throughout the ages, and every erroneous idea of the obligation to the Torah being applicable only to some certain time, as well as the possibility of anybody being able to withdraw himself from that obligation is hereby quite definitely countered.  In Ezekiel 20:32-33, God makes Ezekiel reply to the elders of the nation who approach him with the suggestion that the altered conditions of the time surely necessitate some adjustment and alteration in the laws as follows:

. . . the thought which arose in your minds that you say, now we can become like the other people and serve wood and stone, that thought will never become a reality.  As sure as I live, says God, with a strong hand and with outstretched arm and with outpoured wrath do I remain your King. 

May each of you be blessed and sealed for a very healthy and happy 5761.

Reb Yosef

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Translations in Torah Portions of the week are partially taken from the ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash and from Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch Chumash

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