OU Torah Insights ProjectParashat Nitzavim-Vayeilech
As we prepare for the High Holy Days and the beginning of the recitation of selichos, the penitential prayers, the portion bids us to repent. G-d tells us, "I have placed before you life and death," and urges us, "You shall choose life." Make the commitment to repent and to live in a manner that will be worthy of judgment for a renewed life.
This year, along with Nitzavim, we read a second parshah, Vayeilech. Vayeilech comes from the Hebrew word, go. In sharp contrast to the standing of Nitzavim, Vayeilech represents movement.
The combination of these two parshios teaches us our greatest lessonto both stand still and move on. We must not only stand and take stock of what we have accomplished, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, zt"l, taught, but also move forward and commit ourselves to making the coming year a productive one.
From another perspective, this coming year will be marked with concern over the "Y2K problem," as the secular calendar turns from the year 1999 to 2000. Fears of computer breakdowns and the ensuing confusion abound.
During the coming year there is tremendous potential for change and redemption. This is not a time to be standing still. Observant and committed Jews especially must make the commitment at the beginning of 5760 to diligently work for tikun olam, to be exemplars of purity of thought and action in order to help perfect the world under the sovereignty of the Almighty.
If all Jews live their lives in a pristine and holy state, the resulting kiddush Hashem will infuse the world with holiness.
The world, says Rabbi Eliezer in the Talmud, was created on the 25th day of Elul. Six days later, the first day of the month of Tishrei, marked the creation of the first human being.
The 25th day of Elul is also the anniversary of the creation of the Second Holy Temple, which allowed God's presence to be manifested in this world. The Book of
Nechemia recounts the many efforts made by his foes to prevent the rebuilding of the Temple, but he persevered, and after fifty-two days, the building was completed.
During the year 5760, as Israel's fifty-second anniversary is commemorated, we face the same challenge that Nechemia did: building a sanctuary for G-d in an environment in which so many seek to thwart that work.
Our call is to ensure that the holiness of the State of Israel is fully resurrected. Our prayer is to see in the coming year the prophecy of Isaiah: "The year of redemption has come."
Through our commitment to live lives of holiness and purity, we can ensure the fulfillment of the Prophet's promise.
In this coming year, may the entire House of Israel be privileged to witness the Messianic redemption and ingathering of Israel and the spreading of the tabernacle of peace over Jerusalem and the entire world.
Rabbi Doniel Z. Kramer
Rabbi Kramer is Director of United Jewish CommunitiesUJARabbinic Cabinet.