WEEKLY TORAH TIDBITS

September 24, 2022 - Elul 28, 5782
Nitzavim  
READINGS:
Torah: Deuteronomy 29:9-30:20
Haftarah: Isaiah 61:10-63:9
Brit Chadashah (New Testament): Romans 10:1-13


Nitzavim (You Are Standing)

     As usual, the name of this portion comes from the 1st verse (Deut. 29:10[9 H]).  Nitzavim (meaning “you are standing” [in formation]) is a military term, here referring to the entire nation standing in the Presence of G-d to re-affirm His covenant. Two groups of people need to be highlighted: the very young (for the continuation of the covenant, 29:15[14 H]) and the resident aliens (the gerim) to remind Israel of G-d’s larger plans for the nations.

     While this affirmation will include the list of blessings and curses that were inherent in the covenant, what is often overlooked is the most important blessing that we see going back to the Abrahamic Covenant:

“…Today He will affirm that you are His people and that He is your G-d,” (29:12-13)

     G-d proclaims, with an oath, that He is committing to remain Israel’s G-d, despite the likelihood of Israel’s future sin. The relationship, begun with the patriarchs, is unbreakable. Because of that, G-d will “somehow” manage to maintain the relationship, even when the people break this covenant and G-d will be obligated to punish them through exile. 

     As we see repeatedly in the prophets, despite the certainty of G-d’s judgment of the nation’s sin, restoration is part of His relationship with His people. Here (30:6), restoration is expressed in terms of a spiritual circumcision, the cleansing of the human heart of hardness toward G-d. This involves both divine action (“He will circumcise your heart) as well as the human (“[you] circumcise your heart,” Deut. 10:6). Paul explains that for us who have chosen to follow Yeshua, that circumcision [cleansing/ heart transplant] has taken place through Yeshua (Col. 2:11).

     Finally, for those who see the Covenant commandments (Torah) as difficult and odious, Moses explains that G-d’s Word was given so that we can obey it and receive G-d’s blessings (Deut. 29:29; 30:11-20). It is based on the mutual loving relationship: G-d to His people and the people to their G-d.