Nitzavim – Vayelech

Yeshayahu Leibowitz wrote that this parasha contains a number of concepts relating to Teshuva, repentance, with reference to the root SHUV- “to return to something”. In this parasha Moshe predicted that the people would be very far from G-d, and they would “take to heart” (vehasheivota) what you have done and what befell you, and “you will return to the Lord your G-d” (veshavta) and “G-d will bring back your captives” (shevuteka) . The terms are related to SHUV and they are “take to heart, return to G-d, and “bring back your captives”.


At the end of the parasha, there are additional related expressions, “you will return” (tashuv), “G-d will again rejoice over you” (yashuv), and “if you return to the Lord your G-d with all your heart and with all your soul ” (tashuv).


All of these concepts, taking to heart, returning, repenting, and redemption from captivity, are intertwined and cannot be separated from each other.


The covenant between G-d and the Jewish people is renewed in this parasha, and G-d said that the commandment is not hidden, not distant, and neither is it in heaven, nor across the sea. Rather, “it is very near to you, in your mouth and in your heart to perform it”. R’ Eli Munk wrote that in the context of repentance, the verse can be explained as “in your mouth” referring to the recitation of “vidui”, confession, “in your heart” referring to the heart’ s remorse, while “to perform it” addresses the need to correct one’s actions.


These concepts are pertinent to our observance of the days ahead, Rosh Hashana through to Yom Kippur.


Shana Tova.

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