Torah Commentary

The Tension Between Hubris and Humility

September 28, 2019Cantor Elizabeth Sacks

In its brief 40 verses, Parashat Nitzavim immediately presents us with tensions between confidence and condemnation, promise and punishment, and ultimately, between humility and hubris. Throughout the text of these two compact chapters—Deuteronomy 29 and 30—Moses consistently oscillates between inspiring the Israelites toward their future and forewarning them about their inherent (and perhaps inevitable) flaws.

The Depths of Human Agency and God’s Surprising Laughter

September 8, 2018Rabbi Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi, Ph.D.

In this week’s Torah portion, Nitzavim, an aspect of the fundamental genius of Jewish existence is illuminated. In renewing the covenant God's intention is revealed: that human beings are intended to interpret and determine the meaning of Torah.

Nitzavim for Teens: Shabbat Sha-raps

August 8, 2017

Open this parasha to hear how Moses tells the people that the covenant extends into the future, to people like you and me. He then warns them that they will be punished for sinning, and blessed for following laws. Listen in to learn more.

Collective Responsibility, One for All and All for One

October 1, 2016Reuven Firestone

Nitzavim comes in the cycle of Torah readings just before Rosh HaShanah and is particularly appropriate for the High Holidays because it stresses the importance of repentance. The tone of the passage is at once both lofty and terrifying.

It begins with Moses' inspiring address to the entire people of Israel shortly before he is to die, "You stand this day (Atem nitzavim hayom), all of you, before the Eternal your God — you tribal heads, you elders, and you officials, all the men of Israel, you children, you women, even the stranger within your camp, from woodchopper to water drawer" (Deuteronomy 29:9-10).

A Jew Is a Jew, No Matter How Far

September 12, 2015Audrey R. Korotkin

In Parashat Nitzavim (Deuteronomy 29:9-30:20), Moses is coming to the end of his oration, the end of his leadership, and the end of his life. His last sermon is brief, as he calls the people to attention; reminds them not