15 Sep Rabbi Hillel Skolnik’s Torah Spark for Nitzavim Vayeilech 5777 – Weekend of September 16, 2017
This Shabbat we read from the double portion of Nitzavim-Vayeilech which opens with a description of all the people who are standing before God on this final day of Moshe’s life. The list that Moshe uses to describe the totality of the Israelite people spans from the tribal heads, elders and officials, to wives and children, all the way to the stranger, the woodchopper and the water drawer. The point of including a list that ranges from the higher-ups in the leadership structure to the most basic of jobs that existed in the ancient Israelite community is to emphasize that everyone was standing together. It was only when they were standing as one that they could truly hear God’s instructions and Moshe’s final message to them. It reminds us of the fact that on Rosh HaShannah, which begins this coming Wednesday evening, while we stand as individuals in judgment before God, we do so shoulder to shoulder with our entire community from the tribal heads to the water drawers. We collectively ask for forgiveness knowing full well that none of us is perfect but that each of us has the potential to do better in the year to come.
In that spirit, I invite you all to join us as we begin the High Holiday season with a special service called Slichot which introduces the liturgy, the melodies and many of the themes of Rosh HaShannah and Yom Kippur. For more details on time and place, please consult our calendar at www.sojc.org/calendar and see the date of Saturday, September 16.
Rabbi Hillel Skolnik