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Nitzavim Vayelech/Rosh Hashanna

This week we read a double parsha – Nitzavim Vayelech. If we focus just on the names of the parsha, we note that these are a study in opposites. Here are some of my associations:

Nitzavim – standing, standing tall, stationary, stable, steady, familiar, rooted, motionless.

Vayelech – movement, journeying, in transit, on a voyage to another location, or distancing from an unwanted place, flux, change.

As we anticipate Rosh Hashanna, this stark contrast reminded me of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch’s commentary to the sounding of the Shofar. He focuses upon the series of Tekiah – the plain note - followed by the broken note – the Teruah – and then again, the long steady Tekiah note. He writes:

The plain note calls different elements in one direction while the broken note causes an upheaval, a violent shaking, a movement.

After having had its effect upon the mind, the plain note brings all the various tendencies of the mind converging upon one point. The broken note penetrates, shatters, moves, softens from this one point. The final plain tone reassembles and redirects the disintegrated mind along one straight path.

These ideas when applied to Rosh Hashanah, convey the following lesson: