We associate different Torah portions with the High Holy Days. On Rosh Hashanah we read the challenging passage from Genesis 22 that tells of the Binding of Isaac. On the afternoon of Yom Kippur, Leviticus 19 instructs us how we sanctify our lives through mitzvot. The third Torah portion we read during Yuntiff is Nitzavim, Deuteronomy 29, which is offered on Yom Kippur morning.
Yet, curiously, Nitzavim is read not only on Yom Kippur but also serves as our parashah this week. So what’s the connection here? Why repeat a Torah portion roughly two weeks later after it is read on Shabbat?
A central reason is found in the opening verse of the parasha: “You stand this day, all of you, before Adonai your God-- your tribal heads, your elders and your officials, all the men of Israel, your children, your wives, even the stranger within your camp, from woodchopper to water drawer-- to enter into the covenant” (Deuteronomy 29,9-10).
Of all the passages in Torah, these verses are the ones that most fully articulate a sense of community. During Rosh Hashanah and culminating on Yom Kippur, our community is at its fullest. On Yom Kippur, we see everybody: men and women, young and old, people with different occupations, leaders and members. We all stand together confessing our shortcomings, seeking repentance, and renewing our covenant with God.
Let us draw strength from one another during these coming Days of Awe.
L’shanah Tovah U’metukah. May our community be blessed for a sweet and peaceful New Year.