For the week ending 12 September 2015 / 28 Elul 5775

Parshat Netzavim

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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On the last day of his life, Moshe gathers together all the people, both young and old, lowly and exalted, men and women in a final initiation. The covenant includes not only those who are present, but even those generations yet unborn. Moshe admonishes the people again to be extremely vigilant against idol worship, because in spite of having witnessed the abominations of Egypt, there will always be the temptation to experiment with foreign philosophies as a pretext for immorality. Moshe describes the desolation of the Land of Israel which will be a result of the failure to heed G-d's mitzvos. Both their descendants and foreigners alike will remark on the singular desolation of the Land and its apparent inability to be sown or to produce crops. The conclusion will be apparent to all - the Jewish People have forsaken the One who protects them, in favor of idols which can do nothing. Moshe promises, however, that the people will eventually repent after both the blessings and the curses have been fulfilled. However assimilated they will have become among the nations, eventually G-d will bring them back to Eretz Yisrael. Moshe tells the people to remember that the Torah is not a remote impossibility; rather its fulfillment is within the grasp of every Jew. The Parsha concludes with a dramatic choice between life and death. Moshe exhorts the people to choose life.


Little David

“You are all standing today…” (29:9)

Who would have thought that anti-Semitism would make such a virulent comeback?

As a schoolboy in 1967 I remember reading the Sunday Times reporting the Six Day War. You would have thought that the English army had just won the war. Plucky little David against the Arab Goliath.

And now, little David has been recast as the “blood-thirsty Goliath” devouring the “hapless waifs” of Gaza.

“And it was evening, and it was morning…” (Bereishet 1:5) The Torah teaches us that the natural world starts in darkness and then comes the light.

“You are all standing today…”

The existence of the Jewish People in this world is like the natural cycle of nature. Just as night precedes day, so is the story of the Jewish People. It is a story that begins with persecution, hardship and exile — and ends with redemption and light.

As our Sages teach us, “The beginning of the righteous is hardship, and their end, tranquility.”

As the old year and its curses comes to an end, may G-d bless us that the new year and its blessings will bring a world that will finally recognize that the G-d of Israel is the supreme King of Kings and that His sovereignty is upon all things!

  • Sources: based on No’am Megadim in Mayana Shel Torah

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