Torah Portion: Nitzavim/Vayelech Deut. 29:10-31:30

HafTorah: Isaiah 61:10-63:9

These Torah sections are filled with so many verses that speak to me I hardly know where to start. So I may just cover a few and see what G-d has to say to us. Right from the very beginning in Deut. 29:10-11 we read where Moses speaks to the people about entering into covenant with G-d. What struck me was that we are included in these two verses, “the stranger in your camp.” I think this speaks to those who have come into Israel’s camp. In some degree that is each of us, based on Paul’s words in Romans 11:16-18. We were all grafted into this Jewish olive tree and according to Paul supported by its roots. For some it will go deeper than that. Some of us will go on to be more closely related to Israel. Wherever we are in that process we are all part of the tree.

Deut. 29:14-15 speaks of this covenant not only being for those present but for those to come who were not physically there that day. Again this causes me to think about us. What Yeshua did for us was a historical event, but the effects are as if each of us were there at the time.  Verse 19 says we can’t depend on others for our spiritual condition. The Father looks at each of us and each of us is personally responsible for our own sin.

Deut. 30 begins with a beautiful promise of G-d to redeem His people and return them and prosper them no matter where they are, to rejoice over them.  In Deut. 30:9 all He requires of them is repentance and obedience. Kind of like us- that is what G-d requires of us. In chapter 30:15-20 G-d sets before them and before us a choice of life or death. He urges them to choose life. How do we reconcile this with people who have no choice – through sickness or persecution? It depends on how we define life. Is life just about the breaths we take or is it more than that? It could mean living a life that promotes living, not abusing our bodies with drugs or alcohol.  Deeper than even that however, is how we spend the moments of our lives. The number of years we have are not under our control, however how we spend them is.

Even deeper is another way of looking at Deut. 8:3, Not by bread alone does a person exist but on what proceeds from G-d’s mouth does the person live. Material things, food, clothing, shelter, are necessary to exist but to choose life is more, it is to live a life of meaning, of purpose, reaching out to G-d. This is real life. The search for material things comes and goes but G-d is eternal and He calls us to choose Him. Moses says that G-d is our life in verse 20.

In Deut. 31:7-8 Moses encourages Joshua and us as well with these words. In fact these words should go before us each day -that G-d goes before us. He will be with us, He will not leave us, He will not forsake us, we must not fear or be dismayed.