Parshat Nitzavim: Choosing back to God’s Covenant

We are all united when the Creator summons us to His Presence: “(…) those standing here with us today before the Lord, our God, and [also] with those who are not here with us, this day.” (29:14). Our Sages explain this verse saying that all the Jewish souls, born and not born yet in this world are gathered by God when He commands us to enter the Promised Land and settle in it. Therefore this call is permanent for all generations including us here and now, and those about to be born.


In a deeper sense, this call is no other than God’s Presence in us. If we were gathered back then at the east bank of the Jordan river, and told by our Creator through Moses that some of us were not there, His call then is referred to all of us here and now who eventually may chose to abandon Him and His Commandments. This issue is directly addressed by the Torah in this portion.

God’s call indeed is for all times since we were exiled from our Land as a result of the wrong choices we make, in spite of being warned many times after the Exodus from Egypt throughout the rest of the Torah and by our Prophets. God endowed us with free will prior to putting before us the blessings and curses, hence the choice is only ours. Thus we can’t argue before God that we were not instructed on how to use our discernment and common sense.

The Torah indicates that Heaven and Earth were also summoned to be witnesses against us. It is precisely against because we were properly instructed and warned about the consequences of separating from God’s ways and attributes in order to embrace other gods or idols. The question we must ask ourselves is who or what those idols are now in our times, and ego has the answer in its materialistic fantasies and illusions also represented as “the nations”: “the curse which I have set before you that you will consider in your heart, among all the nations where the Lord your God has banished you.” (30:1).

As we separate from God’s ways and attributes we are banished into the nations by the absence of the Divine Presence in our consciousness. We already know that life and good are the blessing God gives us when we cleave to Him. Here we are made aware that life and goodness are material manifestations of God’s love. Thus we assimilate that love is the source that bears life and sustains it with its goodness.


Love is life, love is good; life is love, good is love because they emanate from God’s love. Then being summoned by Him even before we are born in this world is the blessing to know that, even if we chose to abandon His ways and disperse ourselves among the nations, He waits for us to abandon their gods and idols, and return to Him: “(…) and you will return to the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul, and you will listen to His voice according to all that I am commanding you this day you and your children.” (30:2).

This means that, if we choose to return to Him, must be with all our heart and all our soul. Then He will gather us again: “then, the Lord, your God, will bring back your exiles, and He will have mercy upon you. He will once again gather you from all the nations, where the Lord, your God, had dispersed you.” (30:3). He will look for us even in Heaven because He wants all Israel together with Him in our Final Redemption within the Land He gave us: “Even if your exiles are at the end of the Heavens, the Lord, your God, will gather you from there, and He will take you from there.” (30:4-5).

We also know that in order for us to dwell with the Divine Presence, we must remove ego’s fantasies and illusions. This is not an easy task, otherwise we would have been redeemed from those idols long time ago. God knows this: “For He knows how weak we are, He remembers we are only dust.” (Psalms 103:14). From this we realize that we can be redeemed only by His intervention: “And the Lord, your God, will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, [so that you may] love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, for the sake of your life. (30:6).


The Torah clearly states that only through the circumcision of the heart we can be redeemed. Our Sages teach that the heart is the center where free will dwells, and we make our choices either positive or negative in our heart. We have said in other commentaries in this blog that evil and negativity don’t have real existence, and these are only references to choose good and love’s attributes. This means that evil is a reference, not a choice. In other words, we do not need evil and negativity in our lives, and that which is not necessary (the foreskin) must be removed.

This is one of the meanings of circumcision in Judaism, as a Commandment and reminder that our mission in this world is to remove the negative aspects of consciousness as what we do not need, in order to live in the freedom of Love’s ways and attributes through God’s Commandments and will. As the greatest love of all, God’s love will remove what makes us choose the curse, the unnecessary, instead of the blessing.

We already know by experience the difference between good and evil, and the Torah also teaches and commands (in order for us not to have excuses) to choose good: “This day, I call upon the Heaven and the Earth as witnesses [that I have warned] you: I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. You shall choose life, so that you and your offspring will live; to love the Lord your God, to listen to His voice, and to cleave to Him. For that is your life and the length of your days, to dwell on the Land which the Lord swore to your forefathers to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob to give to them.” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20) because God is our blessing, our life and our goodness.

God calls us to honor our Covenant with Him before we entered the Promised Land (29:11), but we have to make the choice to call Him back. If we are His chosen, we must choose Him back. It doesn’t work if we don’t choose back. We must call out to Him constantly until He gives us His Redemption, and liberate us from the negative illusions we have carved into gods and idols we don’t need.

The Prophet also summons us to this: “(…) those who remind the Lord, be not silent. And give Him no rest, until He establishes and until He makes Jerusalem a praise in the Land. The Lord swore by His right hand and by the arm of His strength; I will no longer give your grain to your enemies, and foreigners shall no longer drink your wine for which you have toiled.” (Isaiah 62:6-8).

About the Author
Ariel Ben Avraham was born in Colombia (1958) from a family with Sephardic ancestry. He studied Cultural Anthropology in Bogota, and lived twenty years in Chicago working as a radio and television producer and writer. He emigrated to Israel in 2004, and for the last fourteen years has been studying the Chassidic mystic tradition, about which he writes and teaches. Based on his studies, he wrote his first book "God's Love" in 2009. He currently lives in Kochav Yaakov.