Office of the Chief Rabbi

D’var Torah: Parashat Nitzavim

In this week’s D’var Torah for Nitzavim, the Chief Rabbi explains that we should view everybody favourably.

How important are titles? Parashat Nitzavim commences with the words “Atem Nitzavim Hayom Kulchem Lifnei Hashem Elokeichem – All of you are standing, this day, before the Lord, your God.”

It is so apt that this message is given to us every year at the time of the Yamim Noraim when we all stand together, accountable before Hashem.

After telling us that we are all standing before Hashem, the Torah goes on to cite different categories of people within the nation. ‘Your heads’, ‘your elders’, ‘your tribes’, ‘your officers’. And then it lists other specific types of people, such as ‘the drawers of water’ and ‘the hewers of wood’.

The Alshich Hakadosh asks, if everybody was already included in the initial statement – ‘all of us are standing before Hashem’ – why do we need these specifics?

So the Alshich beautifully explains that the opening statement reveals to us how Hashem sees us. ‘Kulchem – Everybody’. Without titles, without descriptive terms, without professions and without careers. He sees through to our hearts and to our souls.

The second statement relates to how we see ourselves and others. For us, within our contemporary society, titles are important. Letters after people’s names are important, your rank and your position. But actually the message is that we, like Hashem, should recognise that what is important is what is inside a person.

There are two great messages emerging from here for all of us. First of all, relating to how we view other people. Snobbishness should have no place in our mind-set.

We should look to others, not in terms of their titles and their positions, but rather their ‘Neshamas – souls’. How precious they are and to appreciate their value and the contribution they make.

Secondly, we should also learn about ourselves. There is no need for low self-esteem because although we shouldn’t compare ourselves  to other people and our perception of their rank and their importance because every single one of us is exceptionally precious. Every single one of us can make our mark on our surroundings, our community, our country and on our environment.

Let’s be just like Hashem. Let’s see everybody without the titles, without the letters after their name but for the people they genuinely are and the people they can be.

Shabbat Shalom and Shana Tova


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