"All of you are standing…." (Deut. 29:9)

The G‑dly side of the covenant between Him and us is the focus of parashat Nitzavim, while the human side of the covenant is the focus of the next parasha, Vayelech. The G‑dly side of the covenant is reflected in the fixed aspects of our relationship, while the human side of the covenant is reflected in the changing and growing aspects of the relationship.

The Oral Torah…is always growing….

As we know, our relationship with G‑d is expressed in three broad categories of behavior: Torah study, prayer, and deeds.

The fixed aspect of Torah study is the Written Torah, whose text is immutable and unchanging. The Oral Torah, in contrast, is always growing, as more and more situations arise to which the principles of the Torah must be applied.

Even within the study of the Oral Torah, there is both a fixed aspect and a growing one. The fixed aspect is the basic principles according to which new insights into the Torah are derived and evaluated. The developing aspect is the growing body of novel interpretations and applications.

The fixed aspect of prayer is the obligation to pray at specific times and according to a specific liturgical text. The changing and growing aspect of prayer is the heartfelt intention each individual infuses into his or her prayers as well as the spontaneous prayers he or she is moved to say throughout the day.

The fixed aspect of deed is the specific commandments the Torah obligates every person to perform - based on who he is and what his station in life is - and the minimal legal requirements involved in their performance. The changing and growing aspect of deed is the individual effort and intention each individual puts into his or her performance of G‑d's commandments.

Still, even though the "standing" side of the covenant is G‑d's, it is we who are described as "standing". This is because our covenant with G‑d, who is unchanging, imparts something of His permanence to us. If we are connected to G‑d, we, too, can evince His immutability when it comes to matters of the spirit. Since this tenacity stems from G‑d's own, no worldly force can overcome it. When we stand firm in matters pertaining to Judaism, we are assured that the world will ultimately not pose as an obstacle to us.

It is our duty to "walk", to progress in our own self-refinement….

On the other hand, the purpose of this permanence is that it permeate the aspects of our life that reflect our side of the covenant, the "walking" [from the root word for next week's parasha, "Vayelech"]. It is our duty to "walk", to progress in our own self-refinement and in our task of refining the world, and the key to success in these endeavors is our basis, the fact that we are standing firm, solidly anchored in G‑d's unchanging permanence.

…the heads of your tribes, your elders, your officers, every man of Israel, your children, your women, your proselyte who is in your camp, from your woodchoppers to your water carriers. (Deut. 29:10)

Our awareness of our unity and equivalence must not be allowed to blur the distinctions between us. We must be sensitive to the needs of our fellow man. Furthermore, although we might be spiritually or materially superior to someone else in some way, we must not therefore think that our task is to elevate this person to our level and only then help him. We must first descend to his level and help him in a way that he can appreciate.

This is why the Torah lists the various divisions of the Jewish people, even though the term "all of you" itself implies all types and categories of Jews. Even as we experience ourselves as part of one collective body, we must still be aware of our differences, what others lack, and how we can help them.

[Based on Likutei Sichot vol. 29, pp. 175-178; Sichot Kodesh 5733, vol. 2, p. 385; 5740, vol. 3, pp. 1092 ff; 5736, vol. 2, pp. 700 ff)]

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