Sign up to TorahFax


Tuesday, Elul 19, 5783 (Hakhel Year) / September 6, 2023


This Shabbat we will read two Parshiot; Nitzavim and Vayeilech, in the book of Deuteronomy. Parshat Nitzavim is always read before Rosh Hashana.  In some years, Parshat Vayeilech is read separately, depending on which day of the week the holidays occur.


Parshat Nitzavim begins with Moshe's final words to the Jewish people, "You are standing together this day all of you before G-d. Your leaders, your tribes, your elders, your officer, all the men of Israel, your little ones, your wives and the stranger that is in the midst of your camp, from the hewer of the wood to the drawer of your water;  that you shall enter into the covenant of the L-rd your G-d and into His oath which the L-rd your G-d makes with you today... Not with you alone do I make this covenant and this oath; but with him that is here standing with us this day and also with those that are not here with us this day."


One of the reasons we read Parshat Nitzavim before Rosh Hashana, is that it contains an important lesson before Rosh Hashana. The Parsha begins with, "You are standing together this day all of youbefore G-d." Here Moshe emphasizes the importance of the Jewish people standing ALL together.


The Midrash says, "When one ties many sticks together, it is impossible to break them.  However, if each stick is separate, then even a child can break it."  This Parsha is a lesson as we prepare for Rosh Hashana, the Day of Judgment. If we ALL stand together as ONE, we will overcome any adversity who may be advocating in the heavenly court against us, and be inscribed for a healthy sweet New Year.


Q.  One reason for sounding the Shofar on Rosh Hashana is to recall the Giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai.  What connection does the Giving of the Torah have with Rosh Hashana - the day of judgment?


A.  Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Barditchev gives the following parable: A king got lost in a forest. He wandered deeper and deeper in the woods, until he lost all hope of ever finding his way out. One day, he met a man who led him out of the forest and helped him back to his kingdom and palace.


The king rewarded the man greatly and made him one of his closest friends. One day, the man sinned against the king.  Knowing that he was about to be severely punished, the man asked of the king to grant him one last wish--that he be allowed to wear the same clothes that he wore when he saved the king.  The king agreed.  As soon as the king looked at him, he remembered how the man saved his life.  This invoked feelings of affection by the king and he forgave the sinner and restored him to his position.


The same is with the Jewish people when we stand before G-d in judgment on Rosh Hashana.  When G-d wanted to give the Torah He approached many nations, but no other nation was willing to accept the restrictions and responsibilities of the Torah and mitzvot.  Only the Jewish people accepted the Torah and crowned G-d as their king. Sounding the Shofar on Rosh Hashana recalls the giving of the Torah when only the Jewish people were there for G-d. By sounding the Shofar, we remind G-d that we were there for Him (so to say) when no one else was. So too, we ask that He will be merciful to us and grant us a happy and healthy New Year.