Parsha Nitzavim: Fulfilling Commandments


(This week’s D’var Torah comes to you from Jerusalem, and is in honor of our contributor, Adam Block, and his bride, Jocelyn Eckert, on the occasion of their wedding this Sunday. Mazel tov to Jocelyn and Adam.)

In our parsha Nitzavim, we read (Deuteronomy 30:11-14) that the Torah is not in heaven, so that people would ask “Who can ascend to the heaven for us and take it for us, so that we can listen to it and perform it?” Nor is it across the sea, so that people would ask “Who can cross to the other side of the sea for us and take it for us, so that we can listen to it and perform it?”

It continues, “Rather, the matter is very near to you – in your mouth and in your heart – to perform it.”

This message is similar to what my old camp ranger used to tell us: “Use what you have, where you are, right now.”

You don’‘t have to be a rabbi or a teacher to learn Torah or fulfill the mitzvot. You don’t have to live a life in which you perform all the mitzvot to perform some mitzvot. Every commandment you fulfill is a fine thing, and you can start any time.

Learn about how the Torah tells us to act, and pick a few commandments to fulfill – give charity, say prayers, help people make peace between themselves, honor your father and mother, or study the Torah (which is a mitzvah itself). The upcoming High Holidays will give you some bonus opportunities, like hearing the sound of the shofar.

The Torah is available to everyone. It is not in heaven and is not across the sea. You don’t have to fly and you don’t have to swim for Torah. It is free for you to study and use, and will enrich your life and the lives of everyone around you. Take hold of it use it to the best of your ability.

Shabbat Shalom,

Nelson and Jordan Block