Friday, September 23, 2022 / 27 Elul 5782

Shalom Chaverim,

This is our last Shabbat of the year, just before Rosh haShana

Our weekly Torah portion, Nitzavim, is a great help in preparing us for the holidays to come.

In fact, the Reform and Reconstructionist High Holiday prayerbooks include a section of this week’s Torah portion as an alternative Torah reading for Yom Kippur Day. Heeding its message is essential for fulfilling our spiritual task at this season. This portion stands as both an invitation to us to participate in these holidays with all our beings, and it underscores the value of inclusivity as a crucially Jewish value. 

“You stand this day, all of you, before Adonai your God—your tribal heads, your elders and your officials, all the men of Israel, your children, your wives, even the stranger within your camp, from woodchopper to water drawer—to enter into the covenant of Adonai your God, which Adonai your God is concluding with you this day, with its sanctions; to the end that Adonai may establish you this day as Adonai’s people and be your God, as Adonai promised you and as Adonai swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I make this covenant, with its sanctions, not with you alone, but both with those who are standing here with us this day before Adonai our God and with those who are not with us here this day.”

A commentary frames what we can understand from this passage:

“If it is the people’s task to make God manifest in the world, then our failure to do so will result in God’s hiddenness. When we pass down the covenant, a torch of divine light linking the generations, we connect the next generation to Sinai by virtue of this shared enlightenment. Thus we can all stand at Sinai; We can all make God present in the world…”

I pray that we will have a year of great inclusiveness and participation together as a community, working together to manifest God’s presence in our world. As the Torah seems to suggest, a great part of being Jewish is showing up and being there… If we want God to be present, we need to be present.

I look forward to seeing you as always for Shabbat services tomorrow morning, and to welcome this New Year 5783 with all of you at services on Sunday night and Monday, at Taschlich on the beach Monday afternoon, and at second day services on Tuesday.

Shabbat shalom and L’Shana Tova!

Rabbi Michael