|This D’var Torah is in Z’chus L’Ilui Nishmas my sister Kayla Rus Bas Bunim Tuvia A”H, my maternal grandfather Dovid Tzvi Ben Yosef Yochanan A”H, my paternal grandfather Moshe Ben Yosef A”H, uncle Reuven Nachum Ben Moshe & my great aunt Rivkah Sorah Bas Zev Yehuda HaKohein.
It should also be in Zechus L’Refuah Shileimah for:
-My father Bunim Tuvia Ben Channa Freidel
-My grandmothers Channah Freidel Bas Sarah, and Shulamis Bas Etta
-MY BROTHER: MENACHEM MENDEL SHLOMO BEN CHAYA ROCHEL
-HaRav Gedalia Dov Ben Perel
-Mordechai Shlomo Ben Sarah Tili
-Noam Shmuel Ben Simcha
-Chaya Rochel Ettel Bas Shulamis
-Nechama Hinda Bas Tzirel Leah
-And all of the Cholei Yisrael, especially those suffering from COVID-19.
-It should also be a Z’chus for an Aliyah of the holy Neshamos of Dovid Avraham Ben Chiya Kehas—R’ Dovid Winiarz ZT”L, Miriam Liba Bas Aharon—Rebbetzin Weiss A”H, as well as the Neshamos of those whose lives were taken in terror attacks (Hashem Yikom Damam), and a Z’chus for success for Tzaha”l as well as the rest of Am Yisrael, in Eretz Yisrael and in the Galus.
I would like to add an extra dedication for my sister whose Yartzeit is tonight. The Neshamah of Kayla Rus Bas Bunim Tuvia A”H should continue to experience the highest of Aliyos. She embodies everything you are about to read.
נִצָּבִים-וַיֵּלֶךְ ● Nitzavim-Vayeilech
“Standing & Going”
The double-Parsha of Nitzavim and Vayeilech is curiously made up of two opposite titles.
Standing & Going
On the one hand, “Nitzavim” means to be “stationed” or “standing”—thus “Atem Nitzavim HaYom Kulchem”-“You are all here standing today.”1 On the other hand, “Vayeilech” means to be “walking” or “going”—thus, “Vayeilech Moshe”-“And Moshe went.”2
What is also peculiar about these opposite titles is that both of them appear quite unnecessary and odd in context.
“Atem Nitzavim” – Stating the Obvious
On the one hand, for Moshe Rabbeinu to inform the people “Atem Nitzavim”-“You are standing” was to state the obvious. Of course the people who were standing before him were standing. Why Moshe needed to communicate this point is not clear, leading the M’forshim to suggest various solutions (Rashi offers at least three).
“Vayeilech Moshe” – Where was he going?
The introduction to the second of the double-Parshiyos, “Vayeilech Moshe” is no less obscure. The Torah begins this section with a dubious statement that Moshe “went,” without disclosing where exactly he went. If so, what is the significance of Moshe’s “going”? Why would the Torah choose this verb to introduce this section?
Two States of Being
Apparently, there is deeper meaning to the “standing” of the B’nei Yisrael and the “going” of Moshe Rabbeinu. Of course the people were physically standing, but that fact is seemingly insignificant. And where there was seemingly no place for Moshe to “go,” apparently, where he was going was also not significant. Perhaps then, these two verbs represent deeper states of being. There is a state of “standing” and a state of “going.”
What is the ideal state of being between the two, standing or going? Intuitively, we would imagine that if Moshe Rabbeinu was in a state of “going,” then that must be the most ideal state. This suggestion resonates because we are often taught that life is like a downward escalator, such that if we are not constantly ascending, we are necessarily descending. Even if we are not physically moving anywhere, we have to be at least “on the move,” ready to go, ready with purpose. If we are not “going,” then we are not growing.
A Time to Stand
If all of the above is true, the motionless state of “standing” would appear to be wholly unproductive. But apparently, that is not the case. Consider this later verse in Parshas Vayeilech:
“…Vayeilech Moshe ViYehoshua Vayis’yatzvu B’Ohel Mo’eid”-“…And Moshe and Yehoshua went and they stood in the Tent of Meeting.”3 On the one hand, Moshe and Yehoshua walked, and then, in the same breath, we are taught that the two of them stood. Notice the change from the singular expression of going (“Vayeilech”) to the plural expression of standing (“Vayis’yatzvu.”) They walked together, unified in the state of “going,” but then, as two separate individuals, they parted into the state of “standing.” What exactly is this verse telling us?
Apparently, there is a time and a purpose for both states of being. There is a time for going and a time for standing. Apparently, for Moshe and Yehoshua, they had to exit the state of “going” and enter the motionless state of “standing,” each one by himself. But, why? The purpose for “going” has already been made clear. But, what exactly is the secret Avodah of “standing”? Where is the productivity in the state of “standing” in our growth oriented world?
The answer lies in the context. Where did Moshe and Yehoshua stand? They stood in the Ohel Mo’eid, the place of Divine Inspiration. In our fast moving world which, for all the right reasons, requires us to be on the move, there needs to also be a place for standing, a haven where we can stop, merely take in, and be inspired.
Consider how at the climax of the Revelation at Har Sinai, the Chumash testifies about the B’nei Yisrael that “Vayis’yatzvu B’Tachtis HaHar”-“And they stood at the foot of the mountain.”4 Again, at the place of Divine Inspiration, the apparent Avodah was to “stand” and be inspired. And of course, in our context, after hearing the awe-inspiring words of the Tochachah was also a time for the B’nei Yisrael to stop in place and reflect on what they had just heard.
None of this is to suggest that we could indefinitely stop moving. Life doesn’t ever stop moving. But, there are times where, for the better of our growth, we need to reflect on why we must grow, how we can grow, what it will take to grow. Yes, we have to “go,” but we also need to stop and think about where we are going, otherwise, we will not be going in the right direction. Sometimes, we need to “stand” still for a moment. And even if we need to walk alongside other people as we enter that state of “standing,” like Moshe and Yehoshua, we have to be inspired and motivated as individuals. No one can be inspired or motivated for us.
With the Yomim Nora’im upon us, we have to carefully balance these two states of being. We absolutely cannot afford to have a purely motionless Rosh HaShannah and Yom Kippur, where we make the same empty resolutions and promises for growth that we have made in previous years. Even if we are not physically going, we have to make actual strides. We always have to be going somewhere. And yet, when are we going to stop, tune everything out, and simply reflect on where it is we are going and how we will get there?
On Rosh HaShannah, we have a “standing” opportunity during the blasts of the Shofar. While we are concentrating on fulfilling our obligation to hear the sounds, perhaps we can also reflect on what exactly it is that the Shofar is designed to awaken us to. And on Yom Kippur, we do not even eat or drink, but the Avodah of the entire day is to “stand,” just like immobile angels, ready for the transformative awe-inspiration that will ultimately take us places.
May we all be Zocheh to balance these two states—to open ourselves for inspiration so that we can constantly move forward and upward in our spiritual growth, and Hashem should not only grant us an awe-inspiring and transformative Yomim Nora’im, but a Yomim Nora’im which will culminate in the Geulah and the coming of Moshiach, Bimheirah BiYomeinu! Have a Great Shabbos!
-Yehoshua Shmuel Eisenberg 🙂
- Devarim 29:9
- Ibid. 31:1
- Ibid. 31:14
- Shemos 19:17