In this week’s Torah reading, Nitzavim, Moses speaks to the assembled Israelies, nitzavim hayom kul’chem lifnay Ado-nai elo-haychem… l’ov-r’kha biv’rit Ado-nai elo-hecha “standing here today, together, in front of the Lord your God, to enter into the covenant with the Lord your God.” Moses is addressing the children of the Israelites who, 40 years earlier, had witnessed the revelation at Sinai.
After last week’s recitation of ha-b’rakha v’ha-k’lallah, “the blessings and the curses,” Moses states the obvious, that there will be people among the community who are going to turn away from God, who will breach their part of the covenant, and they will be punished. They’ll also have an opportunity for teshuva, for return, and are told that the Holy One of Blessing will take them back in love, compassionately.
In between these verses is a script (Deut. 29:21-27) reminiscent of the verses where one’s child asks about Passover, and why we celebrate it. In this case, future generations–as well as other nations–are asking, “What the &*@# did you do?” The verse really reads, “Why did the LORD do thus to this land? Wherefore that awful wrath?” but you get the idea.
Fifty-plus years ago my friends and I would ask ourselves why we would ever consider having children, given how messed up the world was. In the year 2525, would our meals be little pills? Would our earth even be habitable?
God willing eventually I’ll have the joy of telling a 12 year-old what his father or mother was like at their age. And when they ask what I did to leave the world in better shape than I found it, I hope I’ll be able to answer proudly. I couldn’t do it all, but I did my best to do my part.
May the coming year of 5782–a Shmita year of rest and release for the land in Israel–bring blessing and peace, and a renewed commitment to making the world a better place for all.