Shabbat Shalom with a Heart Healthy Dose of Torah-Nitzavim 5776

Atem nitzavim … You are all standing here this day, that you may enter the covenant of Adonai, your God, and God’s oath, which your God is making with you this day. But not only with you am I making this covenant and this oath, but with those standing here with us today before the Lord, our God, and [also] with those who are not here with us, this day. (Deut 29:9-14)” Elsewhere in Torah (Numbers 15:14-16), “Any stranger living among you, or among your descendants, will also make a burnt offering, and appeasing fragrance to God: just as you act so must the assembly. There shall be only one law for you and the settler among you. This law shall bind your descendants: before God, you and the settler alike. There is to be one law only, and one statute for you and the stranger that lives among you.” Effectively, strangers are bound by and entitled to thee ways of our laws, and we must accept them as part of our communities.
Say what you want, but Torah is relevant. The Bible is the most read book in history. People have employed its teaching to govern their lives, justify their faith, challenge their faith, start new religions, save lives, and start wars. Like it or not, from the above text of this week’s portion (Nitzavim) and the companion text from Numbers, we know that Torah was intended to begin diverse conversations with people who understood that we share this covenant. The late Lubavitcher Rebbe wrote that the Torah belonged to the whole world. The differences between us exist because of how we read it, interpret it, and use it. Torah makes it clear, though, that as we interact with each other, we are one people … whatever our labels. There exists no higher or lower tradition; we all share in the very same covenant.
We prepare to start the Holy Days this weekend. I pray that we remember that our prayers for healing are for the whole world; they exist for everyone, for everyone has a share in this covenant. For the world to heal, for the broken shards of light to return to heal and re-illumine the vessel, we have to dedicate ourselves to each other. Without each other; we are only disparate separated islands in space. Ani v’ata, neshaneh et ha-olam – You and I, we can change the world. I pray for a healing, renewing, restoring, and most blessed season of prayer. May it begin tonight. Shabbat Shalom.