As I have been preparing my messages to share on Yom Kippur, I keep returning to the question that guides me as I write: What do I stand for? What matters most to me? What do I need to say at this extraordinary moment in our history, on these most solemn of days?
I always return to the metaphor of “what do we stand for” when we come to the double portion of Nitzavim-Vayelech.
“Atem Nitzavim Hayom-You stand here today, all of you, in the presence of God….” the portion begins. The entire community of Israel stands together as one, to affirm the Covenant that God established with them. The Israelites accept the responsibility to preserve the covenant for their generation and generations to come.
We live in a covenantal relationship with God. We affirm principles and values that keep us connected to our people, our heritage, and our tradition. We observe the rites and rituals that will bring us to the synagogue for the upcoming High Holy Days, to pray, reflect and remember. We live by the ethics that compel us to stand up for the needy, disenfranchised and most vulnerable in our midst. We hear the loud voice of the Prophet Isaiah who, on Yom Kippur reminds us that without an ethical core to guide us, our rituals mean little.
What do you stand for? What matters most to you? As I reflect on this question, I invite you to reflect as well and share with me, or post on our TBE Facebook page what matters most to you.
Together we stand, all of us, diverse in our views yet united in our commitment to our congregation, our community and our people.
Wishing you a Shabbat of peace and wholeness.
Shabbat Shalom, Rabbi Chuck Briskin