All Over Again – Parshat Nitzavim 5776

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I didn’t really believe it when people told me that love evolves. Married couples told me the love I felt for my husband wouldn’t always feel the same as it did on our wedding day or at any other point in our relationship. Then I found out it was true. Even as our love grows stronger, the days, months, and years that pass cause me to see Duncan in a new light, a light that shines with different characteristics and moments of magic at each step along our journey together. I look at our lives today and how different they are from seven years ago when we got married, and I fall in love all over again for new reasons. We joke about having a recommitment ceremony each year of our marriage, but the truth is we are always subconsciously evaluating what it is that we love about our partners and affirming our commitment to grow together throughout all of life’s ups and downs.

So many of our life experiences are about moving forward, committing to a plan or recommitting to what we do and being able to move forward, fully invested in our lives. This can happen daily on a smaller scale or less frequently on a larger scale, like the renewal of a contract at work or your membership at the gym. As we close in on the High Holy Days, the question is what would it look like to renew that contract with Judaism?

This week we read parshat Nitzavim, which is entirely concerned with how we treat our land, including how we reduce, reuse, and recycle and the results of our actions on future generations. This week we read about the continued warnings to believe in God and observe the mitzvot or else, as well as the idea that we have a choice between good and bad and life and death. The Torah tells us that we determine whether we live a full life through our good choices or die through bad.

The section of text begins: “You stand this day, all of you, before the Lord your God – your tribal heads, your elders, and your officials, and all the men of Israel, your children, your wives, even the stranger within your camp, from the woodchopper to water drawer, to enter into the covenant of the Lord your God.” Why are we talking about a covenant again? Didn’t we already enter into the covenant with God at Sinai? Wasn’t it the moment of receiving the commandments when the whole nation responded together with “We will do and listen”?

As the Israelites embark on a new experience in the land of Israel, this moment in the Torah serves to reaffirm the covenant they made with God at Mount Sinai. Our relationship with God, like other literal or figurative contractual relationships, requires retooling, reformatting, and recommitment. A relationship with God is not static; it is fluid and ever-changing. As such, this week’s Torah portion reminds us that we must be active in renewing our love for God and our Jewish community.

As we approach the High Holy Day season, now is the time to take stock in our commitment to our religious community and our relationship with God and take action to move forward. How will you recommit in the new year?

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