Netzavim (Deut. 29:9 - 30:20)

The parasha represents a shift in tone on the part of HaShem.  In the last parasha, Ki Tavo, the approach is one of tough love.  It discusses blessings and curses, with a heavy emphasis on the latter.

Netzavim begins with the whole community entering officially into the covenant with HaShem.  It is a high moment, yet it is fret with peril. 

HaShem warns the Israelites that they must not think themselves immune to the sanctions has has described earlier.  HaShem will never forgive that behavior. (29:19)

So far, the tone has still been harsh. But then, in Chapter 30, there is a change. The Israelites are told that even when things are at their worst, if the people return to HaShem, HaShem will “restore your fortunes and take you back in love.” (30:3)

It is useful to remember that HaShem is speaking not to the generation that left Egypt.  They are already doomed.  Rather, HaShem is speaking primarily to that generation’s sons and daughters.  They are the ones who will enter the promised land.

And so a different tone may be necessary.   Perhaps it is because HaShem realizes that younger people don’t respond so well to being ordered around.  Or perhaps HaShem wants this generation to be responsible for themselves and act as mature adults. Remember that there will be no Moses to guide them now.  HaShem will no longer be traveling in a cloud.

How to make this generation feel responsible for their lives becomes the central issue.  The answer is not easy, but it is simple. HaShem reminds the young Israelites that they have the capacity to choose. They can choose to behave a certain way and that way leads to disaster.  Or they can choose the way of HaShem and that leads to prosperity and contentment.  HaShem urges his people to choose life.  (30:19)

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