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Not Merely Standing

By: Mrs Malka Hubscher

Parshat Nitzavim begins with Moshe assembling the Jewish nation together to establish an eternal covenant with Hashem. Moshe's address to the people begins with the words:  "ve'atem nitzavim hayom". When this pasuk is translated simply in English it reads "behold you are standing today". The Hebrew word 'nitzavim' is used as opposed to 'omdim' the more command word in Tanach for standing. What does the use of the word 'netzavim indicate?

Rav S.R. Hirsch links the use of the root 'nitzav' to the content of last week's parsha.  Parashat Ki Tavo describes in great detail the curses that will befall the Jewish people if they fail to follow the Torah and commandments of Hashem. Rav Hirsch, in his perush (devarim 29:9) explains: "In spite of all the unspeakable suffering depicted, you are still nitzavim, remaining upright and firm." Moshe is, in essence, reminding the Jewish people of their resilience and fortitude. We as a nation have suffered throughout the generations, but despite the pain and suffering, the loss and tragedy, we remain nitzavim as a nation with the ability build a new future rededicated to Hashem and His Torah.

The Ohr Hachayim offers a different approach to this section. He explains that Moshe is introducing a new concept in the covenantal relationship between Hashem and the Jewish people.  This brit or covenant is not just between G-d and his people, but it is the commitment of each Jew toward his fellow Jew.  Each one of us must dedicate ourselves to the spiritual success of our fellow Jews. The Ohr Hachayim explains that the word nitzavim does not mean merely to stand but to stand guard as it is used in Megillat Rut 2:6. We as a nation must guard, watch and protect one another in order to achieve communal dedication to Torah and Mitzvot. Only when the entire nation serves Hashem as a united people is the true covenant with Hashem realized.

Perhaps by combining these two explanations we can conclude that the only way we as nation have been able to survive our difficult and challenging history is due to our deep commitment and dedication to one another.  Because we are always nitzavim, guarding and protecting one another, we have been able to remain 'nitzavim' steadfast and strong and upright as a people. May the New Year that is upon us be a year of both achdut amongst Am Yisrael, as well as success and fortitude as a nation.

Shabbat Shalom and Shana Tova.





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