Nitzavim-Vayelech

  1. Gods are described as being chelek – assigned. It is a word we use with the inheritance of the land. We get our portion (chelek) in the land. The chelek of gods connects to the prior portion – we are assigned Hashem and can see, hear and feel like no other people. They are assigned wood and stone and can not. But we inherit the bounty of Hashem. And here there is a worm in the works. Hashem points out there will be a root in Israel that produces hemlock and wormwood. Literally this means head and intentional sin. There will be a person who produces headstrong intentional sinners. And the branches of that root will yield a bitter inheritance.
  2. Here we have a return of the concept of having the heart circumcised. But it is different here. Before we circumcised out heart. This time, Hashem does it for us. Why? It seems, we have two visions of return. In one, we come to Hashem and circumcise our own hearts – in essence saying we want to recover from our rebellion like a drug addict makes the decision to try to recover from his addiction. Here, after going through the incredibly vivid curses, Hashem circumcises our heart for us. We seem to fail to take the step, so he does it for us. Why?
  3. Why is Moshe saying that the Torah is not far from us? While the concept of it being in our hearts and mouths and not across the seas or in the heavens is fascinating, why bring it up here?
  4. In this reading, we see Moshe explaining that he can no longer go or come. What does this mean? There are many explanations but a simple one is this. We just read about how the Torah is not across the seas or in the heavens. But it was in the heavens – Moshe got it. Moshe is literally saying that he can no longer go or come to Hashem. Hashem has told him he can’t cross the Jordan – he’s lost that unique connection and no longer has a purpose in the world.
  5. Here we return to inheritance. We have an inheritance in the land. Why? Because of the forefathers. We understand, as we did in Ve’etchanan, that this is due to the love of Hashem for our forefathers and visa versa. But this inheritance is connected to our obligations. But what kind of inheritance comes with these riders? How does Hashem justify our pain if we’ve inherited the bounty of love?
  6. All of a sudden, the discussion turns personal. It is between Moshe and Hashem. Hashem tells Moshe he’s going to die and the people will rebel. And it seems one has to ask, if the people ignore the Torah Moshe brought, what is Moshe passing on? The answer is in how Hashem describes Moshe’s death. When Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaacov and Yosef die – they are gathered to their nation. Hashem describes Moshe’s death by saying he will lay with the forefathers. In essence, his inheritance is that he gets to join in passing on the gift of the forefathers.
  7. Throughout this parsha, we’ve had witnesses come up again and again. The earth and sky. The poem. The Torah. Why? I think the answer is all about inheritance. Hashem promised the land of Israel to the Bnei Yisrael as an inheritance. They deserve it because of the forefathers love for Hashem. It is critical that it be understood that the love of and for Hashem lasts for thousands of generations. It is in Ve’etchana and the Ten Commandments. But there is a contrary inheritance – the inheritance of those who hate Hashem. That is also in the Ten Commandments. It is also in Ve’etchanan. It is immediate punishment or punishment for three or four generations. How do we reconcile these? With the intermediate suffering. We rebel, we produce headstrong iniquity, we worship gods we did not inherit – and Hashem punishes us. But eventually he must honor the longer-term inheritance – the inheritance of our forefathers. As we’ve seen there are two routes to this. One is that we circumcise our own heart and return. Another is that, forced to honor our inheritance despite the fact we’ve earned all the curses, Hashem circumcises our hearts for us. By laying with the forefathers, Moshe joins in this longer term inheritance.

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