29 September 2016

Parshat Nitzavim . . . As We Stand Upright Before G–D

Parshat Nitzavim
On Rosh Hashanah All Jews Will Stand Erect Before the King of Kings

You stand upright this day, all of you, before the L-rd your G-d: your heads, your tribes, your elders, and your officers, and all the men of Israel; your little ones, your wives, and your stranger that is in your camp, from the hewer of your wood to the drawer of your water (Deuteronomy 29:9-10)

Our sages have said: "All Israel are guarantors for each other" (Talmud, Shevuot 39a). But a person cannot serve as a guarantor unless he is more resourceful in some way than the one he is guaranteeing. For example, a poor man obviously would not be accepted as a guarantor for a rich man's loan. So if the Talmud says that all Jews serve as guarantors to each other, this means that in every Jew there is a quality in which he or she is superior to all others.
(The Lubavitcher Rebbe)

Roy S. Neuberger

“Shir hamalos … When Hashem will return the captivity of Tzion, we will be like dreamers.” (Tehillim 126)

One of our biggest problems during Aseres Ymai Teshuva may be that we have trouble believing Hashem will grant us complete victory. We have trouble believing that our troubles can really become blessings, that our weaknesses can become strengths, that Golus will become Geula

If we would stop and think, we would realize that Hashem gives us a hint of redemption every week, a hint that victory is not a dream. That hint is called Shabbos. Every week, Shabbos comes to rescue us, to draw us out of the depths, and this clearly demonstrates how easily there could come a Shabbos of Shabboses which will draw us out of the depths forever. Chazal teaches us, “Those who delight in [Shabbos] will inherit eternal honor; those who savor it will merit life.” (Shabbos Mussaf)

During the week, before bentching, we say, “Al naharos Bavel … By the rivers of Babylon … there we sat and also wept when we remembered Tzion. On the willows … we hung our lyres… How can we sing the song of Hashem upon the alien’s soil?” (Tehillim 137) Now that we are sitting in Golus, can we imagine we will ever return to our glory? It seems like just a dream! But on Shabbos Kodesh, suddenly the dream becomes reality! “Then our mouth will be filled with laughter and our tongue with glad song!” (Tehillim 126)

This is the proof, my friends. This is the proof that one day, just as Shabbos comes every week, so, in the Seventh Millennium, will the Shabbos of Shabboses come to the world, the Shabbos that never ends. As we say in bentching, “May He cause us to inherit the day which will be completely a Shabbos and rest day for eternal life.”

As we enter the Aseres Ymai Teshuva, we must know that the Redemption will come and that we can be part of it. If we know that, then we will daven with the hope that will enable us to be victorious in judgment, as we say at this season, “Ka’ve el Hashem … Hope to Hashem, strengthen yourself and He will give you courage, and hope to Hashem.”  (Tehillim 27)

In Mitzraim, the paradigm of all Exiles, four-fifths of Am Yisroel never made it out with Moshe Rabbeinu. (Rashi to Shemos 13:18; 10:22) The same danger faces us today. We cannot allow the hopelessness of the surrounding culture to destroy our certainty that Hashem will rescue us, just as He rescued our ancestors in Mitzraim

This certainty is unique to us! “You did not give it to … the [other] nations ... [to the] worshippers of idols… [But] to Israel, Your people, you have given it in love….” (Shabbos Shacharis)

I often feel buried under the weight of Golus. Some days I feel as if it is impossible to lift the weight off my shoulders. The pain is too great; the stress too all-encompassing. Surrounded as we are by enemies and problems, there seems no logical way out of our troubles.

The proof of the Reality of Redemption is that – every week, on Yom Ha Shvii – the power of Shabbos comes to lift the mountain from our heads. The more we permit Shabbos to take over, the more the burdens disappear. Hashem rescues us by sending us the Holy Shabbos, not only to enable us to survive in this Golus, but to prove to us that some day, inexorably, the Shabbos of Shabboses will rescue us forever from the depths of tumah. “Those who tearfully sow will reap in glad song. He who bears the measure of seeds walks along weeping, but will return in exultation, a bearer of his sheaves.” (Tehillim 126)

As we stand before Hashem during Aseres Ymai Teshuva, I believe that it is essential to keep before our eyes the certainty of the Redemption, the realization that our tefillos are not in vain, the assurance that, just as Shabbos comes every week, just as certainly we will see the day of our eternal Salvation. 

Our daughter once told me a droshe on Shir Hamalos. What does it mean that “we will be like dreamers?” We all have dreams. People like to dream about “getting away from it all” in some tropical paradise. Usually, something comes along to spoil the dream, like airport delays, a dilapidated hotel, an upset stomach, an accident, rainy weather … and the “dream” fades away. 

But – lehavdil – “when Hashem will return the captivity of Tzion,” … then reality will be just like the dream! Then we will indeed be like dreamers! Our imperfect dreams do not give satisfaction, but if we dream the dream of Hashem, if we desire that which He desires, then our dreams will come true and we will live in the perfect world of our dreams. “Then they will declare among the nations, ‘Hashem has done greatly with them.’” (ibid)

Yes, my friends, there will come a day when we will say, “He has dressed me in the raiment of salvation, in a robe of righteousness … like a bridegroom who dons priestly glory, like a bride who bedecks herself in her jewelry. For as the earth brings forth her growth, and as a garden causes its sowings to grow, so shall my Lord Hashem … cause righteousness and praise to grow in the face of all the nations…. In all their troubles, He was troubled, and an angel from before Him saved them. With His love and His compassion He redeemed them. He lifted them and bore them all the days of the world.” (Haftaras Nitzavim) May we see it in our days!

K’siva v’chassima tova!

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At this season I want to express gratitude to Artscroll/Mesorah Publications for their wonderfully literate and articulate translations from Loshon Hakodesh into the English language, which I use (with their permission) in published writings throughout the year. May Hashem continue to grant them the privilege to continue disseminating His Word and raising the level of kedusha among Am Yisroel

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Roy Neuberger, author and public speaker, can be reached at roy@2020vision.co.il.

© Copyright 2016 by Roy S. Neuberger

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