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Covenantal Confluence


Here’s a fun fact or two: This week’s Torah portion is a double one (Natzavim and Vayeilech), the first of which, Netzavim, is always read the Shabbat before Rosh Hashanah.
One of the primary reasons for this is the theme with which the portion begins: that of entering into, and strengthening, our covenant with G-d.
The Torah refers to many covenants between G-d and the Jewish people - each one strengthening and reinforcing the previous ones. And as they were about to enter the Land of Israel for the very first time, G-d gathered all the people together to once again reinforce their long standing covenant.
It’s now obvious why we read this portion prior to Rosh Hashanah. We, too, are entering into a covenant with G-d. Before we begin the New Year, before we approach G-d on Rosh Hashanah and ask for all things good, we first have to enter into an agreement of sorts that we’ll do our part. It’s time for us to accept our side of the deal and pledge our commitment to fulfill our responsibility to G-d.
A covenant, though, is much more than a simple commitment. It’s not dependant on conditions being met. In fact, the whole point of a covenant is for both parties to communicate that even if things don’t go as planned, even if we don’t fulfill our side of the deal, the commitment to one another still remains.
A covenant has the power to unite opposites. It unites the revealed part of our soul, that which we access through our daily interactions in life, and the depth of our soul, those aspects of our soul that are only accessed on unique and special occasions.
It was therefore needed as a preparation to entering the Holy Land. In order for the Jewish people to integrate the lofty ideals of the Torah in the mundane activities of living life, they needed to access a dimension which transcends both. Hence the covenant.
On Rosh Hashanah we connect to G-d in the most profound way. We sound the shofar, proclaiming G-d as king over the entire universe; we are inspired. But then, reality sets in, we go back to work, or school; we’re back to the daily grind. The inspiration of Rosh Hashanah is a distant memory. That’s why we prepare for Rosh Hashanah with a covenant; we commit to ourselves and to G-d, that even in those moments when the inspiration is lacking - we will remain connected. Just like we ask G-d to stick with us, and provide our needs, even when we seemingly don’t deserve it.
Rosh Hashanah translates literally as “Head of the Year” for good reason. Just as the head controls the entire body, so too our commitment to G-d on Rosh Hashanah directly affects the entire year to come.

May be it be a year filled with blessings, growth and prosperity!


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