This week’s parsha is Parashat Nitzavim. Nitzavim means, “you are standing." In this week's parsha, Bnei Yisrael are standing by the banks of the Jordan River waiting to enter Eretz Yisrael as Moshe is finishing his farewell address to the people.
The parsha closes with Moshe telling the people they have a choice between life and prosperity or punishment and misfortune. If they choose to obey Hashem and lead a life of mitzvot they will be rewarded with the life and prosperity that Hashem promised their forefathers.
Moshe tells Bnei Yisrael that today they stand before Hashem and he informs the people that this promise is not only with them but with all Israel past, present and future.
Moshe continues and says, “כִּ֚י הַמִּצְוָ֣ה הַזֹּ֔את אֲשֶׁ֛ר אָנֹכִ֥י מְצַוְּךָ֖ הַיּ֑וֹם לֹא־נִפְלֵ֥את הִוא֙ מִמְּךָ֔ וְלֹ֥א רְחֹקָ֖ה הִֽוא׃"
This means: This commandment that I command you today - it is not hidden from you and it is not distant.
We think these famous words teach us that all of us CAN lead a life of mitzvot - the key to living a good life is not a secret and it is not hidden - we can all do it!
If we do what's right, we will enjoy blessings. And if we don’t do what’s right… we can always change our ways! The parasha emphasizes the power of teshuvah, returning to God. No matter how far away we are, God is prepared to gather us back if we choose to return. This is why we always read this parasha before Rosh Hashana, because on Rosh Hashanah we are supposed to commit ourselves to being the best we can be starting right now!
That is why every year before Rosh Hashana I go to the Aventura JCC for the annual JCS Milk and Honey campaign where we make food baskets for the elderly and the less fortunate. Every time I deliver a basket I feel really good and can’t wait till next year so I can do it again.
Another example of always trying to be the best version of myself is that on every Friday my sisters and I take turns lighting the Shabbat candles and I have to learn to be patient and wait until my turn. I always hate waiting but when it is my turn I’m always so excited.
This parsha teaches us that if we follow the mitzvot we will have a good life and we will receive blessings. One time on Shabbat I saw a $1 bill and I couldn't pick it up because on Shabbat you cannot touch money. I was pretty disappointed. But the next day I lost my tooth and got five dollars!
Another time I was on my iPad and my family was leaving to donate food at the Kosher Food Bank. I really didn't want to go but I realized that it was the right thing to do because some kids don’t even have toys. Just like in this parsha, I stood up and I walked out of the house to go donate some toys, and this felt a lot better than spending the day on my ipad.
We learn from this parsha that following the mitzvot is not hard. And even if it sometimes seems hard, Hashem will make it work out in the end.
Thank you and Shabbat Shalom!