Mutual Responsibility in Judgment Before Hashem
הרב בן-ציון אלגזי
Chazal decreed that Parshat Nitzavim should be read before Rosh Hashanah. Why? What is so special about this parsha that it was chosen to prepare the individuals and the nation towards the upcoming days of judgment?
The Torah says: "You are standing today, all of you, before Hashem, your G-d." (Devarim 29:9) Standing "before Hashem" indicates standing in judgment before the Creator of the world. Standing before Him is already within the bounds of judgment – standing before the King who rules the world!
Standing before Hashem requires a person to stand upright with all his strength. Who can possibly manage that before G-d? If the requirement is to stand without any veils, in a clear manner, before the Creator of the world, then how can a person – who throughout the year surely stumbled and failed – stand in judgment?
To this the Torah answers: "You are standing today, all of you." Only the standing of all of Am Yisrael as one person before G-d will prevent us from being condemned in judgment.
Midrash Tanchuma writes in Parshat Nitzavim:
"The heads of your tribes" – Even though I appointed for you heads, elders and officers you are all equal before me as it says: "all the men of Israel."
Alternatively, you are all responsible for one another. If there is one tzaddik among you – you all exist because of him.
This is because of the rule that Am Yisrael are arevim (mutually responsible) for each other. The caring and the responsibility that each person shares with his friends transform that person from an individual to a communal person, who is part of the whole and is concerned about the community.
Every Jew who becomes a part of Klal Yisrael through the Torah causes his soul to become part of Am Yisrael. This is especially significant now, when he can fill in the ranks of our Aliya to Eretz Yisrael. When he takes upon himself the burden of Mitzvot during days when the individual is becoming a part of the whole – there is no doubt that he will feel the responsibility towards Klal Yisrael. "Arev" means responsible in Hebrew, but it also means sweet. Whoever feels responsible for the nation will ultimately feel the sweetness in it, and so we can continue to advance further.
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