This week’s Parasha is Nitzavim (“standing”) – Deuteronomy 29:9 to 30:20
God instructs the people through Moses to carefully follow all the terms of the covenant so they would prosper in everything they did. He was making the Covenant with all who were standing there including their wives, children and the foreigners dwelling amongst them.
They are reminded of the detestable images worshipped in the lands of the people they passed through and warned against being tempted to worship them.
The danger is when one thinks that one is safe but persists in going their own way. Then God would bring about all the curses of the covenant written in the book of the Law.
Future generations will look at the land and see that it is waste with nothing growing. All nations will ask what God has done to this land in his fierce anger.
The answer will be that they abandoned the Covenant that God made with them and brought down all the curses written in the book.
Prosperity after turning back to God
When the blessings and the curses have come on you and you come back to obey the Lord with all your heart then God will restore your fortunes. He will bring you back to the land and make you more prosperous and numerous than your ancestors. He will put the curses on your enemies if you obey the LORD with all your heart.
It is not too difficult or beyond your reach. It is not in the heavens or over the seas. It is right near you in your heart and mouth.
The choice is life and prosperity or death and destruction. If our ancestors were to obey God, He would bless them as they entered the land.
Choose life that your children may live.
Haftarat Nitzavim הפטרת נצבים
The reading today is the last of the seven haftaroth of consolation since on the evening after Shabbat Rosh Hashanah commences The Haftarah reading is Isaiah 61:10–63:9
As with all the Haftaroth of consolation it is one of healing and cleansing wounds and great promises regarding Israel’s future.
God promises to transform the desolate land into a beautiful place and compares His relationship to his people as a young man getting married to his virgin bride.
God will send a Saviour and he will bring his reward with him and vengeance on the nations for all they have done
The passage concludes in praise and thanksgiving for what God has done
He said, ‘Surely, they are my people,
children who will be true to me’;
and so, he became their Saviour. (Isaiah 63:8)
The readings from the Haftarah all put together only comprise a small part of the Prophets. However, readings notably missing are next to or sandwiched between other chosen readings from the Haftaroth of consolation. Apart from the suffering servant passages of Isaiah 52:12 – 53:13 we also note that the first verses of Isaiah 61 that Yeshua read in the Synagogue in Nazareth according to Luke 4:17-20 are also not in any Haftarah.
It is not clear if what He read in Nazareth was part of the liturgy of the time, or Synagogue in those days was closer to our modern non-denominational churches where anyone is free to bring a prophetic word as the Spirit moves them. Luke makes it clear that he found the place in the scroll himself but that does not mean it was not part of the liturgy at the time, but my own feeling is that Synagogues then were more open to receiving things shared by those other than the Rabbi in charge. Paul’s speech in the Synagogue at Antioch supports that point of view
After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the leaders of the synagogue sent word to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have a word of exhortation for the people, please speak.” (Acts 13:15)
The Rabbi’s today tell us that the origin of the Haftarah goes back to the time of the Maccabees when on being forbidden to study Torah our ancestors studied the prophets instead. Whatever the reason it does seem that the Haftaroth were later tailored to cut out passages that the New Testament clearly associate with Yeshua.
However, truth can never be suppressed forever as more and more Jewish people are beginning to realize. Our eyes are being opened as were the eyes of those who met the LORD on the road to Emmaus.
They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32)
May He likewise open the hearts of many Jewish people as they read the Torah and Prophets at this time of year.
Rosh Hashanah is from Sunday evening to Monday evening in Israel and to Tuesday evening in the UK and the rest of the world.
שבת שלום שנה טובה וגמר חטימה טובה
Shabbat Shalom, Shana Tovah and may your name be inscribed in the (Lamb’s) book of Life
This article originally appeared on the BMJA website and reposted with permission.