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Parashat Nitzavim-Vayeilech / פרשת נצבים־וילך

Crop of Procession of the Law by Solomon Alexander Hart


Parashat Nitzavim-Vayeilech is the 51st weekly reading in the annual Torah reading cycle in common years (other than leap years), and the eighth reading of Devarim (“Deuteronomy”). Nitzavim-Vayeilech is a doubled-parashah, combined to achieve the number of readings needed in common years. Nitzavim (נִצָּבִים) means ones standing, and is the second word of the parashah. Vayeilech (וַיֵּלֶךְ) means then he went out, and is the first word of Parashat Vayeilech, beginning at Devarim 31:1.

Mosheh (Moses) addresses those assembled as well as those not present as those with whom HaShem our Elohim (God) is entering into a sworn convenant, that He may establish us as His people, as He promised the Patriarchs. Mosheh then solemnly warns us not to turn away from HaShem to serve the idols of the nations, and describes in some detail what will happen if we do. Mosheh then tells us until when the Torah applies.

Foreseeing, however, the rebellion of the nation and the resulting exile, Mosheh addresses us among the nations this very day with a promise of restoration when we shuv (return/repent), what that teshuvah (repentance) includes, and what the result will be, encouraging us that we are able to do it with HaShem’s help. As Mosheh says, he has set before us Life and death, a blessing and a curse, which Mosheh then briefly describes. Mosheh then speaks to us of our crossing of the Yarden (Jordan River) into the Promised Land. He tells us who it is who will succeed him and why we will succeed in taking the Land. Mosheh then summons his successor and encourages him in the sight of all Yisrael (Israel).

Parashat Nitzavim-Vayeilech then records how Mosheh wrote the Torah and gave it to the Kohanim (Priests), the sons of Levi, and to Ziknei Yisrael (the Elders of Israel), with special instructions for Shanat HaShmita (the Year of Release). HaShem then instructs Mosheh to call Yehoshua (Joshua), his successor, and to appear with him before Ohel Moed (the Tent of Meeting), in order for HaShem to commission him.

HaShem appears at the entrance of the Ohel Moed in a pillar of cloud and speaks to Mosheh about his death and the events that would follow. HaShem instructs Mosheh to teach us a song, that it may confront us regarding our transgressions in forsaking Him. Mosheh writes the words of the song, and then HaShem commissions Yehoshua, encourage him, promises him success, and promises to be with him.

Parashat Nitzavim-Vayeilech concludes with Mosheh’s giving of the Sefer Torah (Scroll/Book of the Torah) to the Levi’im (Levites) and his related instructions. The people are then assembled together, that Mosheh may speak in their hearing.

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Torah Portion: Deuteronomy 29:9 – 31:30

1st Aliyah: Deuteronomy 29:9-28 (20 verses)
2nd Aliyah: Deuteronomy 30:1-6 (6 verses)
3rd Aliyah: Deuteronomy 30:7-14 (8 verses)
4th Aliyah: Deuteronomy 30:15-31:6 (12 verses)
5th Aliyah: Deuteronomy 31:7-13 (7 verses)
6th Aliyah: Deuteronomy 31:14-19 (6 verses)
7th Aliyah: Deuteronomy 31:20-30 (11 verses)
Maftir: Deuteronomy 31:28-30 (3 verses)

Reading from the Nevi’im (Prophets):
Isaiah 61:10 – 63:9

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Artwork: Crop of “Procession of the Law” by Solomon Alexander Hart


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