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Parashat Nitzavim-Vayeilech - 5773

My friends,

After last week's long portion of Ki Tavo, which included 98 curses that Moses warned would fall upon the Israelites if they do not keep the Torah, comes a double portion - Nitzavim and Vayeilech - very short portions with a total of only seventy verses.

Nitzavim is always read the Shabbat before Rosh Hashanah, because chapter 30 describes how G-d will return to the Jewish people if they would only do Teshuvah - return to G-d's ways. Eight times the root of the verb 'return' - 'Shuv' - is found in this chapter. It is most fitting, therefore, that it is read before Rosh Hashanah, as we prepare ourselves for these days when we are urged to do teshuva, repentance, before Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

Moses urges the people to chose life, and to remember that keeping Mitzvot is not difficult. Here are his words - Chapter 30, verses 11-14:

"The Mitzvah (Torah) which I Instruct you this day is not too baffling for you, nor is it beyond your reach. It is not in the heavens that you should say, 'Who among us can go up to the heavens and get it for us, and impart it to us that we may observe it?'. Neither is it beyond the sea that you should say, "Who among us can cross to the other side of the sea and get it for us and impart it to us that we may observe it?" No, the thing is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to observe it."

The thing is very close to us - how true. We have weekly Torah study sessions, which you will find in every community. In this modern age, we all have computers, smart phones, iPads. How easy it is to download the Parasha, or other lessons in Jewish law, and Talmud study. All it takes is a 'click' and a willing heart to learn.

Are you looking for resolutions for the New Year? How about setting aside time for study? There are so many opportunities. Remember - Moses said so a long time ago.

This thing is very close to you. All it takes is a commitment from the heart.

Shabbat Shalom,

Avram