The Weekly Sedra – Parshas Nitzavim-Vayeilech

The Rebbe says:

1. Every year without exception we read the Torah portion of Nitzavim on the Shabbos before Rosh Hashanah (the New Year).

2. We know that every Shabbos has a connection to and includes in it all the days of that coming week. Therefore, there must be a connection between Parshas Nitzavim and Rosh Hashanah (because, as we said, Rosh Hashanah is one the days included in the coming week of the Shabbos on which we read Parshas Nitzavim).

Question: What is the connection between the Torah portion of Nitzavim and Rosh Hashanah?

3. The Rebbe explains the connection between the portion of Nitzavim and Rosh Hashanah:

Answer: The first verse of Nitzavim says, “You are standing today, all of you together, before Hashem your God: Your heads, your tribes, your elders, and your officers- all the men of Israel”. The second verse continues, “Your small children, your women, and your convert who is in the midst of your camp, from the hewer of your wood to the drawer of your water”.

When the first verse says “today”, it is referring to Rosh Hashanah, and the Torah is teaching us that on Rosh Hashanah we must “all” stand as one before Hashem, without any exception. Then the verse goes to on to enumerate all the different kinds of Jews which must stand as one; “Your heads, your tribes, your elders, and your officers…Your small children, your women, and your convert who is in the midst of your camp, from the hewer of your wood to the drawer of your water”.

4. The Rebbe now discusses the unity of the Jewish people:

The plan for all Jews to stand as one on Rosh Hashanah does not mean that we all put up with each other for a day! It does not mean that we think to ourselves, “Even though I am a leader and he is a simple man, I will turn away from the other person’s status for a day”.

The true meaning of “standing as one” on Rosh Hashanah is when we realize that the qualities and talents of one Jew compliments and fills the void of the other Jew.
Even if there are “heads” and “feet” in the Jewish nation, the “heads” need their “feet” just like the “feet” need their “heads”.

We can see this point clearly from a person’s body: A body would not be complete if it was missing its feet. If someone had the greatest mind however didn’t have feet, he would not be able to get where the mind tells him to go.

This is also true with the Jewish people: The Jewish people as a whole make up one perfect body, if the feet are missing, the Jewish people are not complete.

5. The Rebbe now adds that there is actually an advantage that the “feet” of the Jewish nation have over the “heads”:

We know that feet don’t have a mind of their own; they do what they are told without a moments hesitation. (If someone’s feet were not following his every thought, he would run to a doctor).

This also applies to the “feet” of the Jewish nation: The “feet” of the Jewish nation have a simple faith and obedience that is so precious and beautiful in the eyes of Hashem.

The bottom line is that not only do the “heads” of the nation need the “feet” to have a complete body, the “feet” of the nation actually have a unique and irreplaceable quality that we all must have.

6. The Rebbe now explains how Hashem reciprocates to our unity:

The next verse in this sequence says, “In order to bring you into the covenant of G-d, your G-d, and His oath which G-d, your G-d, is making with you today”:

When the Jewish nation stands as one, Hashem makes an oath with us that he will always love us no matter what happens during the year.

Just like for example with two really good friends; they know that something might happen later on in their life which will get in the way of their love for each other, therefore, while they still love each other they make a covenant that they will always love each other no matter what. Why does this covenant last? Because a covenant is above logic and reason, therefore even if a problem arises they continue loving each other.

So-too, Hashem makes a covenant with us while we are standing together as one and he loves us dearly so that no matter what happens during the year he will not stop loving us.

7. The Rebbe now explains how our unity causes Hashem to make this oath with us:

Standing together in unity transcends logic and reason because in our minds eye there is clearly a difference between an important figure in the community and the “water carrier”. Therefore, when we stand together as one we cause Hashem to make a covenant with us which is higher then reason; He will never remove his love from us no matter what we do throughout the upcoming year.

8. The Rebbe now explains why we specifically read the portion of Nitzavim on the Shabbos before Rosh Hashanah:

The strength and ability to be able to get over ourselves and realize the other person’s great qualities and stand as one Jewish body on Rosh Hashanah comes from reading the Torah portion of Nitzavim on the Shabbos before. When we read, “You are standing today, all of you together, before Hashem your God: Your heads, your tribes, your elders, and your officers- all the men of Israel, Your small children, your women, and your convert who is in the midst of your camp, from the hewer of your wood to the drawer of your water”, we are empowered with the gift of unity.

9. May it be the will of Hashem that He send Moshiach right now in honor of all his children, the Jewish people, preparing themselves to stand as one on Rosh Hashanah!

Translated and adapted by Rabbi Shalom Goldberg. Taken from Likutei Sichos Volume Two, the first Sicha.

Parshas Vayeilech

The Rebbe says:

1. In this week’s Torah portion the Torah says that Moshe Rabbeinu (Moses our teacher) told the Levites, “Take this book of the Torah and place it at the side of the Ark of the Covenant of Hashem, your G-d, and it shall be there for you as a witness”.

Our Sages explained that this verse teaches us that Moshe Rabbeinu wrote thirteen different Sifrei Torah (Torah Scrolls); one for each of the Twelve Tribes and one which was placed in the Holy Ark so that if anyone ever tried to falsify part of the Torah we would always be able to look at the Sefer Torah (Torah Scroll) being held in the Holy Ark.

2. The Rebbe now says that there must be a lesson we can learn from this:

Torah is everlasting and its stories are everlasting because they teach lessons to all the later generations. (Indeed, even though the Torah is the Chochmah (wisdom) of Hashem, its name is not “Chochmah”, its name is “Torah”, which comes from the Hebrew word “Ho’ra’ah – lesson”). What is the lesson that we can learn from this verse/story in the Torah, as it is explained by our Sages?

3. The Rebbe begins to explain what this story is teaching us by opening a discussion about the different laws and customs among the Jewish people:

The reason why certain specific laws, and especially customs, are different in some places, is because every Jew has his specific root in the Torah (as the Arizal writes; there are six hundred thousand layers to each of the four levels of Torah and these correspond to the six hundred thousand souls of the Jewish people ), and therefore each one follows his root in the Torah.

(To be sure, we are only talking about very specific laws and customs; the general conduct of every Jew is clearly spelled out for us in the Torah).

The same is true with regards to each Jew’s private service to Hashem; this one serves and connects to Hashem through love, and this one serves and connects to Hashem through fear.

4. The Rebbe now discusses the different versions of the Davening (prayers):

Part of the service in the Beis Hamikdash (the Holy Temple) was bowing to Hashem thirteen times. Our Sages tell us that these thirteen bowings correspond to the “thirteen gates prayer”; one gate for each of the Twelve Tribes, and one general gate through which all Jews can pass.

This means that each one of the Twelve Tribes had their version of prayer and this fit perfectly with their entryway/gate into Heaven. However, there is also a universal version of prayer which fits perfectly with the general gate through which all Jews can pass.

In the times of the Beis Hamikdash, where everyone knew which Tribe they were from, it was obviously preferable for each Jew to pray according to the version of his tribe and his gate. However, nowadays, when we don’t know which Tribe we are from, we are required to use the universal version of prayer which corresponds to the universal gate through which all Jews can pass.

The Magid of Mezeritch tells us that the universal version of prayer which all Jews should use is the one which the Arizal set up.

The issue was, there were sixty different constructions of the Arizal’s version. Therefore, the Alter Rebbe (Rebbe Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the first Chabad Rebbe) sifted through them and showed us “the clear latter” through which we ascend to Heaven.

5. The Rebbe now applies this logic regarding prayer to the learning of Torah:

When we explained earlier that every Jew has his specific root in the Torah and therefore should act accordingly, we were discussing a time when we knew exactly what our root was. However nowadays, when we don’t know what our exact root in the Torah is, we must follow a universal law book to pass through the universal gate.

The Alter Rebbe was chosen by his holy teacher, the Magid of Mezeritch, to compile a clear and concise Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law) for all to follow. This is the universal gate through which we bring down all the Holy energies by fulfilling Hashem’s commandments.

6. The Rebbe now extends this to the inner dimension of Torah:

The Alter Rebbe was also the founder of Chabad Chassidus, and this is the universal gate of all inner dimensions of Torah.

7. The Rebbe now ends off with a hope and prayer for all of us:

It should be Hashem’s Will that we all go in the path which has already been paved for us, and we should publicize this to all Jews. And we already have the promise that through spreading Torah throughout the world Moshiach will come now .

Translated and adapted by Rabbi Shalom Goldberg. Taken from Likutei Sichos Volume Foui

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