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Building Resilient Communities

By Josh Greenberg, Hillel Student Board President

This week's parashah, or Torah portion, is Nitzavim-Vayeilech, a double portion. Nitzavim tells the story of Moses speaking to the Israelites about the Covenant between them and God. Moses outlines the details of the Covenant, and if the Israelites honor the Covenant and the Torah, God will reward them with the Land of Israel. Moses explains that this Covenant is not for any individual and God alone, but between all the Israelites. Moses warns the Israelites against following “their own selfish heart” as God will not be able to forgive such a betrayal. In Vayeilech, Moses concludes his speech to the Israelites, on the Jordan River, as they look onto the promised land, Israel. Moses commands the Israelites to gather on every seven years to read from the Torah before God’s presence, despite God predicting the Israelites will stray, become unfaithful, assimilate with foreign deities. As God knew Moses’ death was approaching, he ordered God to bless Joshua and then ordered Joshua to bring the Israelites to the promised land with strength.

This week’s parshah emphasizes the importance of community, particularly today. By having a community, we are better able to empathize and understand the impact of our actions. God’s Covenant bound the Israelites together as each of their decisions impacted everyone else. They had to have a sense of mutual respect and responsibility to uphold God’s will, even if that contradicts with their own heart’s desires.

We are seeing the challenges of going against personal desires for public good with the pandemic. Our country lacks a strong sense of community and, with that, mutual responsibility. Additionally, Vayeilech reminds me of the challenges and resilience of the Jewish people to remain strong since the beginning of time. It is a nice reminder for me to always cherish my Jewishness, not take it for granted, and do my part to continue the work for thousands of years to build a strong Jewish community for tomorrow. Shabbat Shalom.

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