Living Torah by Rabbi Ari Enkin

This week’s Torah portion is “Nitzavim” (Deuteronomy 29:9-30:2). Although it is not the last Torah portion of the Torah, it is the last Torah portion of the year! We will inaugurate the new Jewish year (5773 years from creation!) on Rosh Hashana, this coming Sunday night!

This is it. It is the day that Moses is going to die, and everyone knows it. He assembles the people together to remind them of their responsibilities to God, their role as the “light unto the nations.” and the importance of imparting the Torah’s teachings to their children and all descendants forever…

You are all standing here this day before your God: your leaders, your tribesmen, your elders, your officers – all the men of Israel. And also your children, your wives, and the converts. From the woodchopper to the water carrier – you are all here today. (Deuteronomy 29:9-10)

As you can see – all are equal before God. Judaism doesn’t believe in a hierarchy, superiority or popularity contests. In the eyes of God you’re special whether you are a child or an elder. A woodchopper or a water carrier. It makes no difference. Not only is every person equal – but every person has the potential for greatness. Indeed, the reason everyone is equal is because everyone has the same potential. No person should consider himself too insignificant or unworthy of playing a role in the community.

There is yet another message of equality in our Torah portion.

The commandments which I command you today are not hidden nor are they far off. It is not in heaven that you could say:” Who will go to Heaven for us and help us understand? Nor is it beyond the sea that you would need someone to travel to the other side of the ocean and bring [the commandments] to you. No. It is very close to you. It is [already] in your heart and in your mouth. (Deuteronomy 30:11-14)

With this passage the Torah tells us that no one should think for a moment that it is to hard to keep the mitzvot of the Torah or to be accepted in the eyes of God. Living a Torah lifestyle is easier than you think, we just need to “open our hearts.

This is the time of year for opening our hearts. Rosh Hashana is upon us. Yom Kippur quickly follows. It’s not only the season of repentance and atonement, but it also the season for celebration: Celebrating God as King of the World. Celebrating our lives, our family, our Jewish lifecycles and experience. Be a part of it and enjoy it, “It is very close to you!”

Shana Tova – Happy New Year!

Shabbat Shalom from Israel!

Rabbi Ari Enkin

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