Friday, September 11, 2015

Nitzavim, September 11, 2015 - Where do we find the mitzvot?

*Author's Note - I am not very skilled at condensing research into my own words.  Instead I try to use readings and study by our Sages to inform my opinions, outlook, and perceptions.  In this post I am merely sharing my interpretations and opinions of this week's Parshah.  So, just keep in mind, this is my opinion only.  :)
A big thank you to Elise for allowing me to share my thoughts (and be a bit vulnerable) with all of you!!

In this week’s Parshah, Nitzavim, we see both a warning and a promise from Hashem.  Hashem both warns us of the dire consequences of turning our hearts away from him, but also promises us long lasting abundance if we do not do so.  We have a great opportunity to provide joy for Hashem.  

Specifically meaningful to me this week is when Hashem explains to us that despite him asking the seemingly impossible, it’s not at all impossible.  The mitzvot and the opportunity for joy is not in heaven, and it is not beyond the sea.  “It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can fulfill it.”

To explain why this portion has special meaning to me, let me tell you a little bit about myself.  I am a 29 year old mother of two small children.  I love my children with all of my heart, but they are exhausting me.  It’s not just me, family has been lovingly chiming in about how much of a handful they really are.  I recently moved from a very rural area to a very big city.  I transferred Universities and I am now in a much more difficult Accounting program than previous, and the sheer amount of homework I have is drowning me.  These are just some of the details about my life, but I tell you them to convey: I’m stressed.  I find myself having to work harder and harder in my prayers and the mitzvot I perform are becoming increasingly more difficult to maintain.

So for me, this reminder couldn’t have come at a more opportune time.  The mitzvot are practical, and Hashem placed them within our reach.  Who knows me and my capabilities better than the Lord our 
G-d?  Who am I to question my abilities in this stressful time?  So if you will allow me, I would like to delve further into this specific part of the Parshah.  

To start with, Devarim 30:11 states “For this commandment which I command you this day, it is not concealed from you, nor is it far away.  It continues on with verse 12 “It is not in heaven, that you should say, "Who will go up to heaven for us and fetch it for us, to tell [it] to us, so that we can fulfill it?” and 13 “Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us and fetch it for us, to tell [it] to us, so that we can fulfill it?"  All of this is to say, Hashem has not given us anything impossible or unattainable.

We don’t need special abilities to reach to heaven or beyond the sea, and we don’t need x-ray vision to figure out exactly what the covenant means to our relationship with Hashem.  We don’t need special assistance to know or understand the mitzvot and it doesn’t take some great feat to have them in our lives.  But if these are all of the things that the Torah and the mitzvot are not, then where are they?

When I read the next line “it is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can fulfill it”  I actually read it in my mind incorrectly.  It’s probably because I’m not a slow, careful enough reader, but I tend to read it as “in your heart and in your mouth.”  But why do I do this automatic flip?  Is it because it seems more natural to do so?  Is it more human to do so?  I think yes.  We all like to believe that what is in our hearts determines what comes out of our mouths.  However, the “fake it till you make it” philosophy tells us otherwise.  We’ve all heard the mantra that if you do it enough times, you will believe it.

Here it is right in the Torah.  The mitzvot are first and foremost in our mouth.  We say and do the things we are required to do.  Then we are able to find them in our heart.  We haven’t been commanded to perform mitzvot solely for G-d’s pleasure, it’s because he has designed the world in such a way that the performance brings us joy as well.  

So now we know where the key lies, within us.  It’s what we say and do and it’s what we hold in our hearts.  That’s how we perform mitzvot, that’s how we connect to G-d, and that’s how someone like me who is going through a rough patch continues to have faith and persevere.  In Nitzavim G-d promises wonderful and amazing things for all those that choose to follow in His path.  No matter how many times we choose the wrong path, the right path is always open to us and we can always cleave to Hashem.  It’s important to note here that the contract given to the people of Israel was for all past generations and all future generations.  It was given to us as a whole and to each of us individually.

When you understand Hashem gave us the very pieces and the very strength we needed right in our own mouths and our own hearts, we find peace with G-d.  

1 comment:

  1. Well done Babs and you took time out of your business to share!