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Nitzavim, Standing Together

09/22/2022 02:01:32 PM


There are certain moments, certain experiences, that define a community. There are moments that are frozen in memory, that serve as mile markers for our history. Nitzvaim describes one such moment, as the Israelites were weeks away from entering the Promised land, and Moses gathered them together for remarkable words. Our community is preparing to experience yet another, with Rosh Hashanah starting Sunday night, and has been confronted with yet a third, as we grapple with two unexpected losses.

As Deuteronomy comes to a close, Moses convenes the entire people. He calls upon every segment of society, from leaders, elders and officials to the menial laborers, citizens and foreigners, men and women, young and old, to enter into a shared covenant. He notes that when the community stands together, they also call upon the strength of generations past and those yet to be born That is the experience of the high holidays- an entire community hearing the same words, seeking the same blessings, connecting with the legacy of our ancestors and transmitting those traditions to the next generation.

Unfortunately, even before onset of the holidays, we face the task of supporting two families who have suffered grievous losses. There is no comparing the death of one person to that of any other- no way to say that one loss is greater. Nevertheless, many in our community, coming from different generations, different social circles, different neighborhoods, different schools and synagogues find themselves suddenly entwined in bonds of grief. They will find this week to be one that is forever marked in memory. However, Nitzavim reminds us that what matters most at the most challenging times is that we stand together, in hopes of drawing strength from each other, as well as those who are not with us.

Fri, December 1 2023 18 Kislev 5784