The New Shul

Parshat Nitzavim/Rosh Hashanah

In this week’s parashah, Nitzavim, Moshe gathers the entire community to re-affirm their covenant with God as they prepare to enter the land of Israel. Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liady asked why Moshe chose to do so at that particular time.

Shneur Zalman’s answer was that Moshe was taking advantage of the present to try to shape the future. As long as the Jews remained in the desert, they did not need to re-affirm their loyalty to God because they felt so close to God already. In the desert, they were entirely dependent on God’s miracles, and there were no distractions to lead them astray. But Moshe wanted them to carry that closeness forward with them into the future. He wanted them to remain committed even after they had settled in the land and life became more normal. Moshe re-affirmed the covenant with the people at that moment in order to lock in for the future the sense of closeness that they felt right now.

On Rosh Hashanah we do something similar. At a time of spiritual intensity, we commit ourselves to remain true to our highest ideals even after the intensity has worn off, so that we can live meaningful lives even during ordinary times.

On Rosh Hashanah we will gather — like the Israelites in parshat Nitzavim — at the threshold of a new beginning. May the commitments that we make to ourselves and to God bring blessings to our lives, and to the lives of those around us, even when the year is no longer new.

  • The New Shul’s Shabbat services are on Friday evenings from 6 to 7 pm, and on Saturday mornings from 9 am to 12 noon. The kiddush-lunch this Shabbat, October 1, is sponsored by Bob Clinton and Janette Silverman in honor of Bob’s 70th birthday, and in honor of the 90th birthday of Janette’s father, Milton Silverman.
  • Childcare is available from 10 am to noon on Shabbat mornings. Our learning service for grades 2 to 4 is from 11 to 11:40 am.
  • Rosh Hashanah begins on Sunday evening October 2. Our service Sunday evening is at 6 pm. Services for both days of Rosh Hashanah, Monday and Tuesday October 3 and 4, are from 8:15 am to approximately 1 pm, and are followed by a kiddush-lunch open to all. Complete information on our services for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is available here.