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09/14/12 07:42:22


R Pesach Siegel

Parshas Nitzavim 5772


Moshe Rabeinu, in taking his leave from the Bnei Yisroel prior to his passing, addresses the assemblage. He says to them, "You are a monument (nitzavim), today, all of you, in front of Hashem, your G-d, the heads of your tribes, elders, the enforcers, all men of Israel, children, women, converts, and slaves."

The purpose of this gathering is to forge a "bris" (covenant) between the Bnei Yisroel and Hashem.

Rashi comments that the gathering was an orderly one. First, the elder leaders entered, and then the rest of the Bnei Yisroel.

The Medrash relates, upon hearing the 100 minus 2 curses that would befall those who failed to uphold the Torah, besides the additional 49 curses in Parshas B'Chukosai, the faces of the Bnei Yisroel turned green. They said, "Who can withstand these?" Moshe Rabeinu comforted them by saying, "You are standing as a monument today. As much as you have brought Hashem to anger, He still has not consumed you. He darkens and brings light, and so in the future will He continue to shine light upon you. It is the very curses that give you continuity and cause you to be a monument in front of Him. (Rashi, perek 29, posuk 12)


What is meant by the term "nitzavim", which means  “You are a monument?”

 The simple meaning is that they were standing up at the time, but for that, the term "omdim" would have been more appropriate.

How does being a monument save the nation for the curses of the great tochacha (rebuke)?

Why is the orderly manner in which the nation approached Moshe Rabeinu integral to the formation of a bris?


In Parshas Devorim (perek 1, posuk 22) the Torah says "Vatikrivun eilai kulchem", “You all approached me.”  Rashi quotes the Sifri, when requesting from Moshe Rabeinu to send the meraglim (spies) they approached him without any semblance of order. Youths pushed in front of their elders.  

Why did Moshe Rabeinu find it important to mention the manner in which he was approached?

I once saw an explanation in the name of Rav Yochanan Zweig, shlita. He expounds on the connection between not respecting one's elders and the sin of the meraglim. For four hundred years, beginning with the Patriarchs and continuing on from parent to child, a tradition of returning to the Land of milk and honey as promised by Hashem was handed down. The very notion that spies were needed to determine the Land’s viability as a place of residence for Bnei Yisroel reflects a lack in their respect for the traditions of their elders.

This lack of respect for the basis and foundation of our nation, the avos hakedoshim, lies at the very root of the sin of the Meraglim. It, thus, manifested itself in the disorderly manner that Moshe Rabeinu was approached when the Bnei Yisroel asked of him to send out Meraglim. The young came before their elders, because in their eyes the elders are not worthy of any special measure of respect. They did not view themselves as a structure, built upon the foundation of their forefathers.


Parshas Nitzavim marks the parting words of Moshe Rabeinu to his beloved people. He seeks to convey to the nation the knowledge of their own identity.

The Bnei Yisroel are not just a collection of individuals born out of a prior group of individuals. Klal Yisroel is a structure. Klal Yisroel is a monument. A monument has a base. Without a solid base, the monument will fall. Everything rests upon the base. A monument is made out of one solitary stone. All the varied aspects of Klal Yisroel are part of a whole.

Hashem does not make covenants with individuals. He makes a bris with a nation built upon a united purpose. A nation that is true to its foundation, the avos, Avrohom, Yitzchok, and Yaakov.

As long as we are part of the structure, we will survive. We are not guaranteed a pain-free existence. Hashem will not overlook our many sins, but we are guaranteed survival.

The Day of Judgement is upon us. The theme of the Yom HaDin is Malchus. The sins of the individual are not the focus of the day. We are being judged as to how we are fulfilling our role in the vast multifaceted kingdom of our Creator. We are being judged as to whether we view ourselves as part of the structure. We are being judged whether we are a monument erected upon the foundation of our forefathers.

The very tefillos that we offer reflect this. The theme of the bracha of U’Vchen Tzadikim is the chessed of Avrohom Avenu, U’Vchen ten pach’decha is the awe of Yitzchok, and U’Vchen ten kavod is the middah of Yaakov Avenu who combines the middos of Avrohom and Yitzchok in the blend called kavod.

The call of the shofar is meant to awaken us. The first blow, the tekiah, is meant to awaken the Avrohom Avenu within us. He is the first of the avos. The teruah represents Yitzchok Avenu , who is the middle of the avos. The final teruah represents Yaakov Avenu. Our very essence is the chessed of Avrohom, the gevurah of Yitzchok, and the rachamim of Yaakov.

May we all be zoche, together, to a kesiva vachasima tova.

Wed, January 22 2020 25 Teves 5780