Nitzavim-Va-Lech (Deuteronomy 29:9-31:30)

HaShem works in mysterious ways…

Remember how in Ki Tavo, the last parasha, HaShem appeared to hit the Israelites with tough love?  By this I mean, if the Israelites did not obey all of HaShem’s commandments they would be destroyed by plague and disease and would be scattered to the ends of the earth, where they would lose all sense of HaShem atnd would worship only other Gods.  (Deut. 28:58-67)

In this week’s parasha, Nitzavim, HaShem, to use a phrase now popular in our time, “walks back” a bit what he had said earlier.  HaShem, instead of describing our fall as permanent, says we’ll be taken back in HaShem’s love if we return to worshipping the Lord our God.  Further, HaShem will “restore our fortunes.”   (Deut. 30:1-3). 

The key question for this week is why does HaShem amend what he has previously threatened?

One possible answer is that Moses, once again, and most likely for the last time, has persuaded HaShem to be more lenient.  

Another possible answer is that HaShem must realize that a permanent exile is a dead end.  Who would be left to worship HaShem?  What value would be all the remarkable commandments without someone to observe them?

We have, after all, established a covenant with HaShem.  And that covenant is so important, that even “the stranger within your camp” is to participate in the covenant ceremony.  (Deut. 29:9-11)

So it seems logical that HaShem decides to give wayward Israelites the opportunity to return to the covenant.  Moreover, part of that return can take place each and every year as part of the month of Ellul, when we grapple with how we have missed the mark and reflect on improving our connection with HaShem.

What do you think?  Write me at

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