This week’s Torah portion, Nitzavim-Vayelech (Deuteronomy 29:9 - 31:30) is the only double portion this year, in order to make room for the holiday readings in the coming weeks.
Moses retells how the children of Israel stood at Mt. Sinai and heard God’s commandments, which would govern their lives, and the lives of those who came after them. And God said to them:
“Surely, this Instruction which I enjoin upon you this day is not too baffling for you, nor is it beyond reach. It is not in the heavens, that you should say, ‘Who among us can go up to the heavens and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who among us can cross to the other side of the sea and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it?’ No, the thing is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to observe it.” (Deut. 30:11-14)
God certainly understands the human heart. We want to live good lives, be good to the others in our lives, to flourish along with our families and communities, but we get in our own way. We think that there must be some magic formula, some far off and exotic answer which will bring us happiness, peace and prosperity, but what we really need to do is look inside ourselves. Fortunately, we have a time to do that. May the forthcoming Days of Awe bring us insights which will bring peace to our hearts, to our homes and to the troubled world in which we live. So may it be God’s will, and so may it also be our will.