The New Shul

Nitzavim/Vayeilekh – Rosh Hashanah

Parshat Nitzavim, the first of this week’s two parshiyot, is always read on the Shabbat before Rosh Hashanah. In it, Moshe boils down the message of the new year to its essence:  “I have put before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life.”

It is a simple message: We have a choice. True, many of the factors that make up our lives are out of our control: the circumstances of our birth and upbringing, the accident of our genetic make-up, the social norms that shape our time. But underneath all of those factors, we have a choice. At every moment in our lives, we face decisions. Which way we turn is up to us, no one else. In the course of the year, we obscure that simple fact with layers of excuses and rationalizations. We allow external forces to submerge our own sense of responsibility. But on this Shabbat before the new year, Moshe cuts through all of our rationalizations and reminds us that the fundamental fact of our humanness is that we have a choice.

In the coming year, may we choose life and blessing.

  • This Saturday night, September 12, is the night of S’lihot. Please join us online at 8:30 pm, for a screening and discussion of the film The Wedding Plan (Rama Burshtein, 2016). S’lihot prayers will follow at approximately 10:30 pm. Contact us for the Zoom link.
  • Rosh Hashanah begins on Friday night September 19. A complete schedule of our programs and services for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is available here. All are welcome.
  • Please note that there will be no e-bulletin next week. Watch for our next bulletin on September 24.

We wish you good health, a peaceful Shabbat, and a sweet New Year.