Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Nitzavim - נצבים : "You are standing": Deuteronomy 29:9-30:20
I have been blessed to be this week in the land of Israel, Eretz Yisrael, even more so to have met and spend some hours with one of the many men of this land that put life and limb to protect the land, its inhabitants and in his words to protect Jews anywhere in the world. So why should I begin a Torah portion with an opening statement that may not be so spiritual as some may perceive it. First of all today I stood in an encampment in Efrat or Efrata, in the West Bank, in one of the jewish so called settlements to attend a training session in anti terrorist training, I would have to say it was more of a hands on education of what the average Jew that loves the land and sees the importance of claiming it back, has to go through. Today I stood and took instruction from an army officer and was shown some aspects of what it takes to protect the land and its people. As I read this parasha that starts you are standing I have a little glimpse of what YHVH had in mind for the Benei Yisrael, the children of Israel. As is the current situation in Eretz Yisrael, life and death is before all that has taken the task of taking possession of the land that was entrusted to inherit.
Moses is speaking on behalf of YHVH, Deuteronomy 29:10: `Ye are standing to-day, all of you, before Jehovah your God, your heads, your tribes, your elders, and your authorities, every man of Israel; your infants, your wives, and thy sojourner who is in the midst of thy camps, from the hewer of thy wood unto the drawer of thy water--for thy passing over into the covenant of Jehovah thy God, and into His oath which Jehovah thy God is making with thee to-day; in order to establish thee to-day to Him for a people, and He Himself is thy God, as He hath spoken to thee, and as He hath sworn to thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. `And not with you alone am I making this covenant and this oath; but with him who is here with us, standing to-day before Jehovah our God, and with him who is not here with us to-day. This opening verses in the parasha, carries a lot weight. YHVH is addressing the Benei Yisrael, top down, present and absent through the generations, as well as the non Jew that will add himself to Israel, note that I say add and not replace, replacement theology is an abomination period. No one can claim innocence everyone tied by blood or word and deed to Yisrael is in this covenant.
What is most important is that it alludes to the fact that the covenant is one tied to the land and that this covenant was made that day before the crossing of the Jordan, and took effect the moment they crosses. Avraham’s covenant is different, it is the promise of the land and the Torah, it was a promise to his seed something to come but not right now, this new covenant with Avraham’s seed builds on that of the previous covenants made. Moreover the covenant takes place as they go through the Jordan, and there may be some symbolism here where the children of Israel as they go through the Jordan River it represents a purification process of ritual cleanliness as what mikvah (baptism/immersion) normally does for those immersing in water. This cleanliness was necessary to take over and process the land. At this point they are reminded that a state of holiness is required additionally a state of purity, to be able to keep the relationship which in a way is symbiotic, God to man and man to God, man the the land and the land to man and God to the land and the land to God. Any one of these links are broken and we have a case that there is no balance, the land does not produce it ejects its inhabitants, there is no peace, there is HaMass, violence. Similarly with a broken link there cannot be a relationship between man and YHVH Elohim, if there is a separation between God and Man then spiritually, physically, morally and mentally there is unbalance and this leads to destruction and death. Further they are reminded that they are to keep away from other idols a false gods and to maintain that link, that relationship with YHVH. Here we begin to stipulate the consequences of our actions, obedience begets blessings, disobedience begets curses. What is most interesting is that as YHVH is telling the children of Israel what could happen according to our actions, and in another way he is telling them exactly what it will happen and what the consequences will be. We must always remember there is nothing new under the sun, history repeats itself, we should learn from history which lies in front of us and allow the future evolve as it is behind us and we cannot see nor we supposed to see.
Even though YHVH is just telling them the outcome to be, He is also telling them that if they repent He is merciful, and as a God of love that he will return those that seek him and Tshuvah to him with a broken heart and of sincere heart, back to the land, that is His promise. Deuteronomy 30:11: `For this command which I am commanding thee to-day, it is not too wonderful for thee, nor is it far off, it is not in the heavens, --saying, Who doth go up for us into the heavens, and doth take it for us, and doth cause us to hear it--that we may do it. And it is not beyond the sea, --saying, Who doth pass over for us beyond the sea, and doth take it for us, and doth cause us to hear it , hat we may do it? For very near unto thee is the word, in thy mouth, and in thy heart--to do it. `See, I have set before thee to-day life and good, and death and evil. What he is saying is that it all comes down to a choice, He is the one instigating a move towards a relationship with HaShem, however we have the choice. Additionally He is saying this is doable, it is not impossible to keep Torah is not out of the realm of possibility contrary to popular belief. in our current times this is possible through the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit, in us given to us through the redemptive work of Messiah.
HaShem even encourages to choose life, therefore this day choose life, Deuteronomy 30:15: `See, I have set before thee to-day life and good, and death and evil, in that I am commanding thee to-day to love Jehovah thy God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commands, and His statutes, and His judgments; and thou hast lived and multiplied, and Jehovah thy God hath blessed thee in the land whither thou art going in to possess it. and this brings back to His commandments as given in Deuteronomy 6: 4-9 the Shema. Additionally this was repeated many times, in Joshua 22:5: Only, be very watchful to do the command and the law which Moses, servant of Jehovah, commanded you, to love Jehovah your God, and to walk in all His ways, and to keep His commands, and to cleave to Him, and to serve Him, with all your heart, and with all your soul.', Matthew 22:37: And Jesus said to him, `Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thine understanding and Mark 12:30: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God out of all thy heart, and out of thy soul, and out of all thine understanding, and out of all thy strength--this is the first command; Luke 10:27: And he answering said, `Thou shalt love the Lord thy God out of all thy heart, and out of all thy soul, and out of all thy strength, and out of all thy understanding, and thy neighbours as thyself.' This is the key of the whole Torah, to love him not serve through fear but to serve of love.
As I travelled around this land that was promised to our forefathers, I truly understand the blessing and the curses. Here the land produces to those of the covenant and to those committed to the Torah. Furthermore those that come here and are not serious about the commitment to serving HaShem, find themselves in a peculiar situation, they are not spiritually strong and in covenant with YHVH and therefore they are prey to HaSatan. I see men and women walking doing their daily routine in prayer out loud and visibly as they walk they are not idle, they are constantly praying, the result is that in areas where the Torah is kept you see the change, the land flourishes, it is clean and feels safe, even though there is constant threat. areas where HaShem is not the center the opposite occurs, dirty barren and in disarray. Additionally the number of disturbed individuals that either think they are a prophet or the messiah is quite amazing to see. Where there is a stronger presence of HaShem such as His land and city Jerusalem, there is also a strong opposing force HaSatan, and if you are not ready spiritually you are wide open to attack.
The closing verses of this parasha states in Deuteronomy 30:18: I have declared to you this day, that ye do certainly perish, ye do not prolong days on the ground which thou art passing over the Jordan to go in thither to possess it. Deuteronomy 30:19: `I have caused to testify against you to-day the heavens and the earth; life and death I have set before thee, the blessing and the reviling; and thou hast fixed on life, so that thou dost live, thou and thy seed, love Jehovah thy God, to hearken to His voice, and to cleave to Him (for He is thy life, and the length of thy days), to dwell on the ground which Jehovah hath sworn to thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give to them.' These two last verses speaks volumes, here we have the key in verse 20, “for He is thy life, and the length of of thy days”. We stand in His presence through Moshiach this day and if we choose life so be it live accordingly if we choose curses then so be it live with the consequences. Its your choice be wise about it and live long. May His name be glorified for ever.
Dr Washington firstname.lastname@example.org