Vort on Parshas Nitzavim
אתם נצבים היום כלכם לפני ה’ אלקיכם
This week’s Parsha begins אתם נצבים הוים כלכם לפני ה’ אלקיכם”(כט’ ט’) – You are standing today – all of you – before Hashem, your G-d.” In this pasuk, Moshe tells Klal Yisroel – the Jewish people, that they are standing before Hashem as they enter His covenant and accept all the Torah and mitzvos.
Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman zt’’l asked, ‘In truth, every one of us is constantly standing before Hashem; if so, what is the great significance that Moshe had to inform the Jewish People that they were specifically standing before Hashem at this point?”
Perhaps one could answer as follows: While it is undoubtedly true that we are constantly standing before Hashem and He is continuously noting our deeds, there are times when we are closer to Hashem in a genuine way. For example, if we imagine a land where the king governs all of his subjects, we can say that they are all under the king’s watchful eye — they are all ‘before him.’ The king looks after each citizen and, to a degree, enjoys a relationship with him, but their relationship is limited. However, a subject who approaches the king and offers to live in his palace and dedicate his entire life to serving him in every way 24 hours a day will enjoy a much closer relationship with the king. As a palace resident, his needs will be taken care of.
Moshe informed the Jewish People that they were standing before Hashem. Moshe was telling them that because they were about to enter into a covenant with Hashem to observe His Torah at all times, they were no longer merely subjects of the King; they were now loyal servants agreeing to live in the King’s Palace — in a way that they had never previously experienced.
In fact, at this time of year, when we add the chapter of Tehillim “LeDovid Hashem” to our prayers, we include the words “אחת שאלתי מאת ה’ …שבתי בבית ה’ כל ימי חי” – One thing I asked of Hashem, this I shall request: [That I] dwell in the House of Hashem all the days of my life.” What is so significant about seeking to reside in Hashem’s House, specifically at this time of year? The answer is that we are praying for all sorts of things: health, wealth, security, happiness, and peace; we have all kinds of worries we want to assuage. Yet, if we live in the King’s palace, we don’t have to worry because Hashem is taking care of us. As loyal subjects of the King who live in His House, He is responsible for our health, wealth, security, happiness, and peace. As such, our prayer is not that we have all the blessings that we need; our prayer is that we are accepted into Hashem’s House so that He can look after all our needs — even those we don’t know we need!