Nitzavim – Deuteronomy 29:9 – 30:20, The Parashat Ha Shavua for Shabbat, Saturday, September 28, 2019

This week’s Torah portion begins with a retelling of the Revelation at Sinai and a statement of radical inclusion and unity, “You stand this day, all of you, before the LORD 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 of the LORD your God, which the LORD your God is concluding with you this day, with its sanctions; to the end that He may establish you this day as His people and be your God, as He promised you and as He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I make this covenant, with its sanctions, not with you alone, but both with those who are standing here with us this day before the LORD our God and with those who are not with us here this day. (Deuteronomy 29:9-14)

In this telling, everyone is present at Sinai, from the highest, the tribal heads, to the lowest, the laborers who carry water and chop wood, men, women and children… all are equal in the eyes of God. But this vision is more inclusive still: not only the generation that left Egypt stands at Sinai, but every future generation as well.

At this time of great division in our nation and even among the Jewish people, when some try to turn us against each other or to turn our anger on others, it is good to remember this vision of the Jewish people at Sinai. All of us are standing together before God at Sinai. In the holiest of moments all people, across class, across race, of all genders and of every generation are present.

As we enter these High Holy Days, let us try to imagine what it means to stand in the presence of God and to be worthy of this vision of unity, equality and holy community. Shannah tovah u’metukah. May we all be blessed with a good and sweet New Year.