Torah Portion: Nitzavim

The portion for this week is Deuteronomy 29:9–30:20, and it is titled Nitzavim, or Standing. The title comes from the first verse in the portion.

Deuteronomy 29:9 “You are standing (nitzavim) today, all of you, before Adonai your God—the heads of your tribes, your elders, your officials, all the men of Israel, 10 your children, your wives, and the outsider within your camp (from your woodchopper to your water carrier).

As Torah begins to wrap up and we roll back the “scroll” to Genesis, we’re hit with something that is somewhat unbelievable.

Duet 30:11 “For this mitzvah that I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it far off. 12 It is not in the heavens, that you should say, ‘Who will go up for us to the heavens and get it for us, and have us hear it so we may do it?’ 13 Nor is it across the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross over for us to the other side of the sea and get it for us, and have us hear it so we may do it?’ 14 No, the word is very near to you—in your mouth and in your heart, to do it.

If you read 30:11 out of context it seems to conflict with what I have, and most of the believing community believes.I had to research this a little bit, does this mean that we as simple humans follow all of Torah? My first thought was “of course not,” but then I read it again. It says “this mitzvah”, not “all mitzvot.” So what is God asking for us to do?

Read verse 30:2 “and when you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul”

He is asking us to love Him with all of your heart, soul, and mind. That is possible. It is possible to love Him that way. I think of King David who was a murderer and adulterer, but he loved but according to scripture, he was a man after God’s own heart.

1 Samuel 13:14a – “But now your kingship (Saul’s kingship) will not last. Adonai has sought for Himself a man after His own heart. So Adonai will appoint him (David) as ruler over His people—because you have not guarded what Adonai commanded you (Saul).”

So it is possible to follow the greatest commandment, which is “to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, and mind” even though we’re going to fail if we try to follow all 613 commandments.

Paul (Saul), quotes this specific portion in Romans and explains salvation not by works, but by faith alone. And I’ll end on his words:

Romans 10:5 For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on Torah, “The man who does these things shall live by them.” 6 But the righteousness based on faith speaks in this way:

“Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will go up into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Messiah down),

7 or, ‘Who will go down into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Messiah up from the dead).”

8 But what does it say?

“The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”

—that is, the word of faith that we are proclaiming:

9 For if you confess with your mouth that Yeshua is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart it is believed for righteousness, and with the mouth it is confessed for salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever trusts in Him will not be put to shame.”

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