As we approach the last Shabbat of the Jewish year, Rabbi Dr. Reb Mimi Feigelson examines an early passage in Parashat Nitzavim-Vayelech where Moses pleads to God: ‘I cannot come and go anymore’ and links this to our present moment and the past six month.
She uses Parashat Nitzavim-Vayelech as an opportunity to invite us to examine and question our strengths and what we want to take with us into the new year.
This week’s Shabbat reading brings us almost to the end of the book of Deuteronomy.
In parashat Nitzavim-Vayelech, we are standing a little bit and walking a little bit. That’s the human condition, we are standing and walking. There’s a passage here which I love very much and actually brings us back to the beginning of the book of Deuteronomy. In this parasha, Moses says, “I cannot come and go anymore.”
Does this familiar in the last six months of our lives?
“I can’t come and go”
In the beginning of the book of Deuteronomy, Moses says “I can’t carry you alone” and in the beginning of Parashat Nitzavim-Vayelech he says, I cannot come and go anymore.”
What is Moses really telling us? What does this have to do with the way we are living our lives right now?
The Chernobyl Rebbe says that Moses means he cannot come and go for his wisdom and for his knowledge.
When we normally learn, some things we hold on to, some things fall away to the side, some things we remember and some things as if we never learned them before. Moses is saying ‘I can no longer forget, I can no longer not know’ and that means he has exceeded the human condition and he says, “that’s not a life.”
This is our last Shabbat of the year. We have an opportunity to reflect back and we have a moment to reflect forward.
What is it in this period we find ourselves saying “I can’t any longer?” This phrase, “I can’t” also harkens back to when God reveals Himself to Moses at the burning bush. There, we see the burning bush not consumed.
On this Shabbat, I want to invite us to look at both sides of our existence right now. Parts of ourselves that are not consumed, the situations and this year have not consumed us. A moment, an element of ourselves that we are strong and we cannot be consumed. We are that burning bush, we can’t be consumed. And yet, there are things I can no longer carry. There are some things “I can’t come and go. Some things I cannot negotiate. It’s ok to say at this point, to say, “We are tired. It has been a hard six months and we are tired.”
I’m asking that this Shabbat you take a few moments to ask yourself: where are you strong? Where is your core inside of you and holding you? Also, some things that maybe have fallen to the side, that have become hard, those, as well, can be examined. And I pray and I bless us all on this last Shabbat of the year, we can lift up and elevate all of the Shabbats of the year.
This Shabbat comes to us in a way that comes to us in a way that has never before. I want to pray for us all, not only a Shabbat Shalom but a Shana Tova u Metuka. I wish for us to muster up inside ourselves sweetness, transformation, transition a good and sweet year for ourselves mostly a year of health and healing for ourselves and for our families for all of God’s children throughout the world.
Reb Mimi serves as the Mashpiah Ruchanit (spiritual mentor) of the Rabbinical School, and teaches Talmud and Hassidic Thought. She will guide and walk with the rabbinical students on their personal-spiritual journeys. She served as the Mashpiah Ruchanit of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles for the last 16 years. Prior to this Reb Mimi was one of the founding administration and faculty members of the “Yakar” Beit Midrash and community.