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Parashat Nitzavim - 5776

Dear friends,

This week's Torah portion is very short. Moses completes his speech to the Israelites before he dies and before they enter the Promised Land by reminding them of the Covenant that was made between G-d and the Children of Israel. That covenant is that the Children will always keep the Torah and G-d's Mitzvot and teach them to their children. Their parents accepted and committed themselves for all generations to come. Moses warns anyone who thinks that keeping G-d's laws is too hard and that, therefore, maybe it is better to want out of this covenant. Moses warns them that this is not possible, and that that person will be cursed and that all the curses found in this book will fall upon that person.

It would seem that this is a very harsh and difficult situation. Our ancestors entered into this Covenant and we, their descendants, have no choice. Whether we like it or not, we cannot walk away. Whether we like it or not, we are stuck. One might ask what kind of a contract is that - that whether we like it or not, we are unable to break it. What kind of a democratic system is that?

I believe that the Jewish people is one big family. When there are differences or if you don't agree with certain family traditions, you cannot just walk away. Cutting yourself off from your family is a bad thing.

We are familiar with some of our people who have left the fold, but at some point that spark of their Jewish soul leads them back to their roots. All you need to do is to be receptive to such a possibility.

This Parasha ends with the promise that, if we return to G-d, G-d will also return to us. This section of Teshuvah - return or repentance - is fitting and appropriate for this Shabbat, a few days before Rosh Hashanah, the holiday of returning to G-d.

Shabbat Shalom and Shanah Tovah to you and your family.

Avram