The Power of Nitzavim: Standing Strong in Unity and Responsibility

View of Jerusalem from the Haas Promenade - Courtesy of the Author
View of Jerusalem from the Haas Promenade - Courtesy of the Author

This week’s Torah portion, Nitzavim, is a Torah portion nestled within the Book of Deuteronomy, and a portion I can deeply relate to. Its themes of unity, shared responsibility, choice, and renewal have resonated deeply with me, offering valuable insights that extend far beyond the boundaries of religious scripture. Nitzavim is about the power of standing up and taking responsibility. As we approach the Jewish New Year, Nitzavim is a powerful reminder of accepting our mistakes, replenishing, and renewal, and a tool of personal growth. 

Unity Amidst Diversity

Nitzavim teaches us that unity does not require uniformity. The Jewish people are a diverse community with varied backgrounds, beliefs, and perspectives. Yet, when they stand together before God, these differences become a source of strength rather than division. In our modern world, where diversity is often perceived as a challenge, Nitzavim reminds us that it can be a powerful force for unity.

This can relate to me and my own family. Coming from a very diverse family, made up of Jews, Christians, and even black people, it is important that I educate myself about everyday issues that could affect them, simply for who they are. I incorporate diversity as a value in my everyday life, especially my education. 

I have also seen this aspect when it has came to the protests coming out of Israel. Israelis, young and grown, have been taking to the streets for several months aiming to protect Israel’s democracy. 

Embracing Personal Responsibility

The portion of Nitzavim emphasizes personal responsibility. It reminds us that we have the ability to choose our path, either one of blessing or curse. This idea has been a guiding light in my life. It has allowed me to take ownership of my decisions, actions, and their consequences. Accepting responsibility has always been difficult for me. Currently, I am in an outpatient mental health treatment program, and as I’ve grown in and outside the program, I’ve come to appreciate the importance of personal responsibility not just for my own life but for the greater good. Nitzavim has taught me more about the belief that we are each responsible for shaping the world around us, making ethical choices, and striving to leave a positive impact on others. 

The Promise of Transformation

Nitzavim also offers a message of hope and transformation. It reminds us that even if we have strayed from the right path, there is always an opportunity for change and growth. This idea has been a source of comfort and motivation during challenging times in my life, especially now. Currently, most of my friends are either in college or have full time jobs. As an autistic person, I am rerouted in my path. I had to withdraw from my previous university, but I have hopes to go somewhere in the future. Still, the reality of having to reroute has made me compare myself to my friends and worry about my chances of getting a job in my chosen field. 

I’ve experienced moments where I felt lost, worried, or off course, but Nitzavim’s promise of transformation reminds me that it’s never too late to return to a path of righteousness and personal growth. It encourages me to approach life with optimism and the belief in our capacity for change.

Applying Nitzavim’s Wisdom in Everyday Life

Incorporating the lessons of Nitzavim into my daily life has been a journey in itself. It has meant striving for unity and understanding in my relationships, taking responsibility for my choices, and embracing the potential for personal growth and transformation. These principles have guided me through challenges and triumphs, serving as a compass for my moral and spiritual development.

Nitzavim is clearly more than just a Torah portion; it’s a timeless source of wisdom and inspiration. Its teachings on unity, personal responsibility, and transformation have impacted my life, shaping my values and guiding my actions. As I continue my journey, I am grateful for the power of Nitzavim, which reminds me of the strength we find when we stand together, the importance of our choices, and the endless potential for positive change in our lives.

About the Author
Perri Schwartz is a student leader and writer based out of Atlanta, Georgia. She is a 2021-2022 alumnus of the Young Judaea Year Course gap year. She interned with the Israel Daily News Podcast while on Year Course. She is also on the autism spectrum and is super passionate about current events shaping our society and making the world a better place.
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