• Rabbi Yehoshua Weiss

Parshas Nitzavim

פרשת השבוע

אתם נצבים היום כולכם

If we reverse the letters of the word אתם it becomes the word אמת. What does this teach us reading the verse "truth standing today all of you". There is a fundamental question that is always puzzling. Why was the decision of that generation to accept the Torah binding on future generations? Why should every generation of our nation be entitled to review the benefits and drawbacks of their acceptance? Although in practical terms it would disrupt the tradition from generation to the next but as our history testifies this is the attitude we have adopted anyway. The further we distance ourselves from הר סיני the more distant our nation becomes from the values of the Torah. Today our tradition survives by way of a loyal minority while the rest of our nation questions the need and even more so the validity of a Torah way of life. In light of this we can understand the significance of such a teaching.

The truth is we were all there. All future generations were bound by that decision because we were there. A mystical explanation is that although we were not physically present we were there in spirit. Our souls were present. If we would only dig into our deeper selves without just focusing on our physicality as our true identity we would relate to the teachings of the Torah as vital to our existence. Just as the G-d outside of us is difficult to sense without devoting sufficient effort the same is true of the G-d inside of us.

However, just to dismiss this as imaginary because it is difficult to experience would refute basic modern day science. We are a made up of atoms. Matter is simply organized energy. What we see with our eyes is an illusion. As a matter of fact science is heading in the direction that we all may be just information. Pure physicality is an illusion. Maybe our true existence actually transcends this physical body. Maybe the explanation that our souls were at הר סיני is not so mystical.

But even if that explanation is too elusive we can appreciate that we were there in another sense. The more we are bounded to our ancestry the more we can connect with our history and our tradition. If we would learn about the greatness of past generations, the great men of those times, the greatness of their minds and character, angels in human form, we would be confident that there vision transcended beyond the confines of their existence and when they said נעשה ונשמע its value lasts forever.