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Nitzavim: Not With You Alone

No, the thing is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to observe it. (Devarim/Deuteronomy 30:14)

The title of this parsha translates to "those who stand" or "the ones standing." There are a lot of things in Nitzavim that still have resonance, from the exhortation to "Choose life," to the divine promise that if the Jewish people are faithful, they will be gathered back together in the land of Israel. The covenant is between both those who stand at Sinai and those not yet born.

Image credit: Wikipedia
Image credit: Wikipedia

I find the title of this parsha very stirring--a reminder that the covenant is an agreement to pray on your feet, ready to act. To stand up for something. And the covenant is made not only with those who stood at Sinai, but those who come after. But more than that, it's made not only for those who stood at Sinai, but for those who weren't standing there as well--in affirming the dignity and worth of every human being, made in the divine image; in insisting that laws should apply universally, not just to members of an in-group; and in setting an example for law that is aspirational, that strives to build a better society and not merely regulate an existing one.

Join us at 9:00 am this Saturday for coffee, donuts, and what's always a lively discussion.

Other lenses

Want to know what other Jewish thinkers are saying about this parsha? Wikipedia has an incredible treasure trove of geekery about the weekly portion, laying out everything from the number of Hebrew letters in the parsha to summaries of classical commentaries. Prepare to go down a very deep rabbithole.

Sefaria is an amazing free resource--an ever-growing library of Jewish texts in both Hebrew and English. In addition to the Hebrew text and translation, it provides the text of most of the classical commentaries (not all of which have been translated... yet). The parsha is one of the first links on the main page.

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the president of the Union for Reform Judaism, does a podcast called Ten Minutes of Torah--perfect for when you're time-constrained. The Union for Reform Judaism has a whole page of resources for the parsha, ranging from beginner's guides to pieces on the contemporary relevance of the portion. The Women of Reform Judaism site has a glorious archive of the entire text of The Torah: A Women's Commentary divided up by parsha.

My Jewish Learning has a summary of the portion, the parsha itself and the haftorah, and commentary.

For a Reconstructionist take, visit Reconstructing Judaism's weekly learning page.

T'ruah, the Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, has a weekly d'var that looks at the parsha as a starting point for contemporary political issues.

The World Union for Progressive Judaism has a parsha commentary archive.

Keshet's Torah Queeries page provides commentary from an LGBTQ perspective (search on the portion name).

The Jewish Theological Society (the Conservative Branch seminary) provides weekly commentary at JTS Torah Online.

Yeshivat Maharat, the first Orthodox yeshiva to ordain women, has a collection of Divrei Torah written by women and organized by parsha, on its site.

Limmud, a 35-year-old grassroots Jewish learning event that started in the UK and has become an international phenomenon, maintains an archive of commentaries.

Liberal Judaism's Thought for the Week provides concise but thoughtful analysis of the portion.

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi Emeritus of England, engages in profound commentary on the weekly portion in Covenant & Conversation.

InterfaithFamily puts out an animated Torahlog including contemporary reactions, poetry, folk music, and Jewish scholarship on the parsha.

The Jewish Renewal movement's site maintains an archive of commentary. Rabbi Rachel Barenblat, the Velveteen Rabbi--an author and Jewish Renewal rabbi--does commentary on her site.

The #parshachat hashtag on Twitter marks a constantly-running social media conversation on the parsha.

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