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Returning to the right path and prospering

09/05/2018 09:18:28 AM


Lynda Schwartz

In this week’s portion of Nitzavim, Moses lays out endless blessings if we adhere to the covenant and utter destruction if we do not. At first, it seems like a simple, harsh contract: “Keep My commandments or else.” Underlying, however, is a monumental relationship imbued with love. Although Moses is addressing the people of Israel particularly, he uses the widest possible definition of who belongs to the community: the 1 percent and the 99 percent, members by birth and the strangers in the camp, men, women and children and even those “not here with us this day.” Moses speaks to everyone within the range of his voice, then and now. In this text, all of us are worthy and capable covenant partners with the Divine.
The portion is half contract, half love story. Evocative and emotional, it encompasses not only overt actions, but also how we feel and what we hide. Adonai seeks to open our hearts so that fulfillment of our obligations flows from love. The Holy One knows us well, even acknowledging that we will fail, suffer and be scattered. Even so, we are reassured that when we return to the right path, we will be fetched back from the ends of the earth to prosper.
It’s also exquisitely intimate. Moses coaches us to put negative self-talk aside. Holiness is within our reach, so close we could breathe it in, so close it is already in our mouths and our hearts.
It’s as if the Holy One is saying, “All of you, every one listening: I have confidence in you. I have chosen you. Choose my ways, and I will be right there with you.”
​​​​​​​Lynda Schwartz is a Temple member and teacher.

Thu, August 22 2019 21 Av 5779