Parashas Nitzavim

In this week’s parashah, Moshe tells the Jewish People (Devarim 30:15-20): “Behold, I have placed before you today life and good, death and evil …. I call heaven and earth today to bear witness regarding you – I have placed before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, so that you and your descendants will live to love Hashem your God, to heed His voice and to cling to him ….” I present here two selections from the Maggid’s commentary on this passage.
1. Consider someone who hires a day laborer. We can imagine him paying the laborer his wage at the end of the day and then telling him: “Be sure to bring this money home so that you will be able to provide for your family. Don’t fritter the money away on excessive eating and drinking.” Similarly, Moshe tells us choose a way of life that will allow us and our children after us to live securely. We should not live a wasteful life of indulgence. Rather, we should adopt the righteous way of life, for a person who lives righteously leaves over a blessing for those who come after him. In this vein, Shlomo HaMelech says (Mishlei 20:7): “A righteous man who continually walks in his wholeheartedness – fortunate are his children after him.”
2. If a man earns his living through a respectable and well-paying trade – as a jeweler, for example – he will earnestly desire to teach his son this trade, so that his son will also be able to make a nice living in a clean and honorable way. Conversely, if a man works in an ignoble and low-paying occupation, he will seek to prevent his son from taking up the same line of work. If he sees his son walking around with his work tools in his hand, he will yank them away from him and say: “Why learn to do this lowly type of work? Do you want to be poor like me your whole life?” Similarly, a righteous man will tell his children to follow in his footsteps and adhere to the upright way of life, while a wicked man who spent his life following his rash whims and chasing worldly pleasures will ultimately lament his fate and warn his children not to make the same mistake. He will tell them that if they spend their life on empty pursuits as he did, they also will end up with nothing to reap from their activities. In this vein, Moshe exhorts us to choose for ourselves a way of life that we will want our children also to live – a way of life that constitutes true living.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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