Parshas Nitzavim – Vayelech

Nitzavim begins with Moses gathering every member of the Jewish people for the final time. He initiates them into a Covenant with G-d as the Almighty’s ‘Chosen People’. This Covenant applied not only to those present on that day, but to all future Jewish generations. A question for your consideration- how could someone not present be bound to a commitment made by their ancestors? What is the binding force today that obligates all Jews to keep a Torah accepted over 3,000 years ago?

Moses tells the people that although eventually they will sin, in time they will repent and return to the Torah, and G-d will usher in the messianic era when we all return to the land of Israel. Furthermore, he assures them that the commandments are neither distant nor inaccessible (‘it is not in heaven’). This means that a committed Jewish life is well within everyone’s reach.

Vayelech opens with Moses walking through the Jewish camp on the final day of his life to say goodbye to his beloved people. He teaches them the mitzvah of Hakhel (הקהל), the once-in-seven-years gathering of the entire nation to hear the king read certain passages from the Torah. G-d commands that a special Torah, written by Moses, be placed by the Levites at the side of the Holy Ark to bear witness against Israel if they were to ever deviate from its teachings.