This year, we read two parashot on this week before Rosh Hashonah: Nitzavim and Vayelich. They have a common theme of the future.
Nitzavim looks to the future for generations to come. At the end of last week’s parasha, Ki Savo, as the Children of Israel are about to enter Canaan, Moses had brought them all together and briefly recounted many of the miracles God made to help them in their journey through the Wilderness. Now, in Nitzavim, Moses says all the people are together, from the most distinguished to the most humble. Moses explains they are there to seal the covenant of God to be God’s people and live in holiness, and to be punished if they turn away from God and worship idols.
Then Moses joins together those in front of him with those to come until the end of time: “Not with you alone do I seal this covenant and this curse, but with whomever is here, standing with us today before the Lord, our God, and with whomever is not here with us today.” Deuteronomy 29:13-14.
Vayeilech looks to the immediate future. It begins with Moses explaining it was his birthday – he was 120 years old. He will no longer journey with the People and they will be led by Joshua, who has been by Moses’ side and studied with him throughout the Exodus. Moses instructs Joshua Chazak v’Amatz, “be strong and brave” because you will come to the Land God swore to the Jews and God will be with you.. Deuteronomy 31:7-8. Moses finishes writing the first Torah scroll, and has it placed with the Ark containing the Ten Commandments.
Here we have the story of our People told in just a few sentences. We are all together, teachers and students, old and young. We have a wonderful long-term goal: living a holy life based on the Torah. We should be strong and brave in pursuing our goal. We should have confidence in attaining our goal because God has helped us to reach this point, and will continue to help us.
I hope we all move forward in the new year toward reaching our goal.