We are very close to the end of the Torah this week. Nitzavim-Vayeilech is one of the combined parshiot; it runs from Deuteronomy 29:9 – 31:30. You may notice, if you attend Shabbat morning services, that the hagbihah, the person who lifts the scroll for hagbah, is even more careful than usual because one tree of the scroll is extremely heavy while the other side is light. (For more about lifting and dressing the Torah, including a video, see Hagbah and Gelilah Explained from MyJewishLearning.com.)
Moses has only a few more things to tell his people. He begins Nitzavim (“You are standing,” using a special word for standing) by speaking to all the people, specifying that he is talking to the men, women, children, strangers and servants. He even includes “those who are not standing here today” a mysterious phrase that will provide endless debate in future times. All will enter the covenant, which is a very solemn matter.
He foretells the exile from the Land: that at a future time, they will chase after false gods and they will be cast out of the Land of Israel. Then later their enemies will be cast low, and they will return to the Land. He ends with an admonition to “Choose life!” and a call to heaven and earth to witness his words.
Parashat Vayeilech is one of the shortest parashiot in the Torah, containing only 30 verses. Moses announces his age, which is 120, and gives Joshua his commission as the next leader of the people.
Here are some of the drashot on Nitzavim-Vayelech available online:
Rabbi Aryeh Klapper – The Value of Lip Service
Rabbi Sylvia Rothschild – We are our own matzevah, a sign of a covenant we cannot fully understand
Rabbi Stephen Fuchs – The Best Possible Choice
Rabbi Rachel Barenblat – Returning in Love
Leah Houseman – Nitzavim-Vayelech
Maggidah Melissa Carpenter – Secret Idolatry
Rabbi Ruth Adar – Not Beyond Reach