25 Elul 5777 – Nitzavim Vayelech

Bruchim Habaim!

I wish a warm welcome to our new Shlichot Michal Lange and Arielle Lubick who have just arrived from Israel to spend the year with us. I know our community will make them feel very welcome.

Mazal Tov!

I take this opportunity in wishing the Teitler family a huge Mazal Tov on the upcoming Bat Mitzvah of Sarah this Shabbat afternoon where she will be leading a women’s Mincha group. Mazal Tov!

Special Mount Sinai Years 3-6 Shabbat Friday service

I look forward to welcoming our Years 3-6 students and parents to Shul this Friday night where the students will be assisting me in leading the prayers and take part in a special program!

We are all in this together!

Parashat Nitzavim is always read right before Rosh Hashana and for good reason. In its dramatic opening, it beckons us to assemble together, in a spirit of unity, in forging a covenant with G-d. “You are all standing here today in front of Hashem your G-d… Your heads of tribes, elders, judges, wives, children and proselytes. From your hewers of wood to your water drawers”. Lengthy in description, the Torah takes the time to single out the various societal classes – form the heads of tribes down to the woodchoppers – to stress that in the eyes of G-d everyone is equal. No one has more eligibility or advantage over anyone else when it comes to spiritual matters. It is not for us to judge who is more worthy than anyone else because after all, who really knows the true value of a person? Only G-d! 

Furthermore, by opening this section in this way the Torah seems to be suggesting that a state of unity is not only important but is a prerequisite for forging a relationship with G-d. It is implying that if you can’t respect or accept your fellow human being, then you will not enjoy a real relationship with G-d. You can’t have a fight with your spouse or neighbour and then go to Shul and pray. Ultimately, we are all in this together.

And this is exactly what we are about to be doing over the upcoming days. We will all be gathering together in Shul for many hours strengthen our relationship with Hashem and ask Him to bless our upcoming year. But let’s not forget the message of our Parasha! Perhaps we read this Parasha right now before Rosh Hashana to remind us to become more accepting and less judgemental of others over these days. It’s a call to resolve outstanding conflicts and reach out to one another in a spirit of love and genuine friendship. Only in such a spirit of solidarity and unity will we all be able to face G-d and experience the true richness and depth of the upcoming days of Awe. 

Wishing you all a Shabbat Shalom and Shana Tova!

Rabbi Yossi and Chana Raizel Friedman

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