Dear Congregation Kehillah and Friends,
A double parasha this week. Please choose whichever kavannah resonates...
Parashat Nitzavim opens with the theme of the unity of the Jewish people:
"You stand today, all of you, before Adonai your G-d..." and culminates with this motivational statement "For the mitzvah which I command you this day, it is not beyond you nor is it remote from you. It is not in heaven... It is not across the sea.... Rather, it is very close to you, in your mouth, in your heart, that you may do it", and into the exhortation that we choose life: "I have set before you life and goodness, and death and evil; in that I command you this day to love God, walk in God's ways and keep God's commandments... Life and death I have set before you, blessing and curse. Choose life." So central to Jewish life, practice and belief are these statements that we also read Parashat Nitzavim on our holiest day, Yom Kippur.
A kavannah for candlelighting for Shabbat Nitzavim:
Holy One, as I prepare to light candles welcoming Your Shabbat in these days immediately preceding the Yamim Noraim (Days of Awe = Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and the days in between), please help me tap into the wisdom, courage and strength I possess so that I may live by Your teachings and recognize that I am not alone. I am part of and supported by the larger community (kehillah). And please help me to remember always before Whom we all stand.
And, the second parasha, Vayelech (meaning And he went...), takes place on the last day of Moses' life, as he turns over leadership to Joshua, and completes the writing of a Torah scroll which he then entrusted to the Levites for safe-keeping in the Ark. Moses lived to be 120 years old, strong mentally and physically, which is the source of the blessing offered at significant birthdays, "may you live to 120..."
Also in Vayelech, there is a description of a ceremony called Hakhel, which is a commanded gathering of the people. While we cannot gather together in person, we are together in remembering events that changed lives and history on this day, nineteen years ago and pray that their lives were not lost in vain. To a better America...to life!
A kavannah for candlelighting for Shabbat Vayelech:
Holy One, may my candlelighting this Shabbat inspire me to 'go'/reach out, as did Moses, to those I love and 'return' to my true self, the self without the layers, the self that returns, in love, to You.
We look forward to sharing the High Holy Days with you starting this Saturday evening via Zoom for Selichot at 6:45 p.m., starting with Havdalah.
We are also excited to be with you for Erev Rosh Hashanah services on Friday night, September 18th at 7:30 p.m. via YouTube Livestreamed, and Rosh Hashanah morning via YouTube Livestreamed on Shabbat/Saturday, September 19th at 10:00 a.m.
Shabbat Shalom and blessings for sweetness, health, connection and shalom in 5781,
Rabbi Bonnie Sharfman