Parshas Nitzavim – All as One

By Shalom Olensky


This week in the Torah:

Moses addresses the Jews, all together, with the words, “You stand today, all of you, before the L-rd your G-d….”

Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov:

This is a promise to the Jews, every year for the days of Rosh Hashanah, to be found meritorious on these days of judgment. (“Today” refers to Rosh Hashanah; “You stand” means you are found meritorious in judgment.)


This verse describes the covenant G-d made with the Jews that they all shall be responsible for each other.


What is the connection between these two interpretations of this week’s writ: confidence on the day of judgment and being responsible for one another?


Jewish responsibility for one another is different than the common understanding of responsibility. Normally, one can only be responsible for another if the one responsible is greater than his charge. Adult over a child, wealthy over poor, etc. Each and every Jew, on the other hand, regardless of spiritual or material or personal stature, great or small, are all responsible for each other equally.

E.g., even a Jew of low communal standing, for instance, can include another, greater Jew and fulfill his obligation to bless on food etc. for him, even though the former is of lower stature.

Hence, the way in which each and every Jew is responsible for each other, i.e. equally, shows their unity. The Jewish people are together, and they are united in a sense that every single Jew has some quality that is unique to him and that all of Israel depend on him for his spiritual or physical input. Additionally, they are all one single entity because of the fact that each Jew represents not more than nor less than one part of the Jewish nation as a whole.


Hence the connection between Jewish inter-responsibility, Jewish unity, to being meritorious on the day of judgment. For, when one lives with the theme of unity of the whole Jewish nation, and G-d’s chosen people as a whole are surely good, then a Jew on Rosh Hashanah is certainly given an inscription and seal into the Book of Life for a good and sweet year.

(Based on Likkutei Sichos Vol. 4, Nitzavim)


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