Friday, September 14, 2012


 Parsha: Nitzavim
Deut. 30:11-14 “ For this commandment which I command you this day, is not concealed from you, nor is it far away.   It is not in heaven...  Nor is it beyond the sea... Rather,[this] thing is very close to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can fulfill it.”

In this parsha, following one’s heart is a complicated process. First, the Torah warns against blessing ourselves in our heart and following our heart’s desires, lest we bring curses upon ourselves (29:18). Then we read that God will circumcise our heart and the heart of our children so that we love God fully for the sake of life. (30:6) Next we are told that the commandments are in our mouths and hearts (30:14). Finally, we are warned again that if our heart deviates and we do not listen, we will perish. (30:17). So which is it – when we look into our hearts, will we see devious desires that lead us astray, or wholesome instructions that give life? And how can we tell whether our heart’s inner promptings move us toward death or toward life?

The coming Days of Awe give us the opportunity to look deeply into our hearts. First we must allow our hearts to be circumcised – to let the outer covering of ego peel away. Then we must stay close to home – not chasing after illusions in the heavens or beyond the sea. We cultivate a sense of being open, vulnerable, yet grounded in reality right here, right now. Then we will find that we are able to speak words  - to ourselves, to others – that clarify and illuminate – that bring more life.

May this New Year give us the energy and desire to look deeply into our own hearts, discerning clearly that which we should peel away, and that which we should speak as our life-nurturing truth.
 L shana tovah.