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United In Blessing

Friday, 15 September, 2017 - 3:03 pm


On the last Shabbat of the Jewish month, we sanctify the following month with a special prayer during synagogue services called “Kiddush Hachodesh”. In the presence of the Torah scroll, the upcoming day of Rosh Chodesh (beginning of the new month) is announced and we proclaim that the new month be one of life, peace, joy, deliverance and consolation.

On the last Shabbat of the year, we refrain from this procedure for various reasons.

The Baal Shem Tov explains that on the final Shabbat of the year, G-d A-lmighty Himself blesses the new month of Tishrei, thereby giving us mortals the capacity and strength to bless the following eleven months of the year. How is this Heavenly Blessing communicated to us?

The Torah portion that we read each Shabbat is G-d’s way of communicating to us the relevant message for that particular week. This Shabbat we will read the double portion of Nitavim and Vayeilech. The main themes of these Parshas educate us as to how we will have the power to bless the coming months.

Nitzavim opens with Moshe preparing the Jewish people to strengthen their covenant with G-d. “You are all standing this day before the L-rd, your G-d. The leaders of your tribes, your elders and your officers, every man of Israel. Your young children, your women, and your convert who is within your camp both your woodcutters and your water drawers.”

Every Jew is present. The absence of one affects the entire community.

Throughout the Torah, the introduction to a communication between Moshe to the Jewish people is a generic “And Moshe spoke to the children of Israel.” The opening and closing statements of parshat Vayeilech however, make a rare reference to the fact that Moshe is speaking to the entire nation of Israel.

The two mitzvoth recorded in the parsha - writing a Torah scroll and gathering the nation every seven years at the Temple for “Hakhel” - also emphasize the idea of unity. Every Jew is represented in the letters of the Torah scroll, and the once-in-seven-year gathering was the only event every Jewish man, woman and child was obligated to attend.

The message is clear. Unity is the vessel to receive blessing and the tool through which we can bless. As we wrap up the old year and look forward to a new one, let us be mindful to include everyone. Encourage a fellow Jew to hear the Shofar this Rosh Hashanah and participate in a festive meal. Full synagogues are insufficient as long as there is even one Jew within our orbit not doing Rosh Hashanah.

We know what to do and we will get the job done.

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