The word “nitzavim” that gives this week’s parsha its name means to be present and accounted for, to stand erect, to appear. There can be no better description of the duty of a Jew than this word “nitzavim.”
Every Jew is responsible to be present and accounted for. Every Jew must be a proud Jew, standing erect and strong in one’s loyalty to tradition and Jewish values. The Torah specifically warns against any attempts to shirk one’s duty, to be absent without leave, so to speak. It is tantamount to desertion on the field of battle, the most severe crime in warfare.
Only if we view ourselves in the light of having to report “nitzavim” for holy duty can we truly appreciate the import of the covenant and its binding quality upon us. “Nitzavim” is not history alone – it is a never-ending always-renewing challenge to the Jewish people as a whole and to each and every Jew individually. It is a call and challenge that cannot be ignored.
On Rosh Hashana we pass before God, according to one opinion in the Talmud as “soldiers in King David’s army.” On Rosh Hashana, whether we wish so or not, we are all “nitzavim” before the heavenly court. If the rest of the year we are also to be counted as “nitzavim” than we can stand with pride and confidence before that court and pray for receiving its benign and merciful verdict.
The People Are The Future
"Atem Nitzavim Hayom Kulchem; You are all standing today." Rav Shamshon Refael Hirsh says that Nitzavim is from the word, Matzeiva, a monument, a pillar. In his last speech to Bnei Yisrael, Moshe tells them, "You are the foundation, the force, the future, and the eternal carriers of the flame of Torah and the banner of Hashem. I am merely a leader that will pass on and move into the annals of history. All the leaders that follow me will meet the same end.
The rise and fall of the Jews rests on your shoulders and the shoulders of your children in every generation.
For Klal Yisrael to exist and to thrive, you, the ordinary people, must carry on as loyal flag bearers, since in you lies the strength of Am Yisrael