The portion of Nitzavim is always read on the Shabbat immediately preceding Rosh Hashanah and the new month of Tishrei. Interestingly, the Shabbat before Rosh Hashanah is the only Shabbat where we do not bless the new moon and upcoming month, as we do for all other months of the year. The Kabbalists explain it is to avoid creating an opening and alerting the negative angels and negative influences around us to the upcoming holiday and new month. However, we have an opportunity to connect to the Light of the new month in the reading through the unique inclusion of a large Lamed. One of the first Kabbalsitic texts, the Sefer Yetzirah, explains that the month of Tishrei was created and is controlled by the Hebrew letter Lamed. By connecting to the oversized Lamed in the reading, we can, in turn, connect to the Light for the new month which we usually receive by the blessing of the new moon. Additionally, this portion has 11 dots written over the words "lanu ul'vanenu", meaning "for us and our children". There are only 10 places throughout the Torah where we see dots above letters, indicating the importance of this in the reading. We can connect to the energy of unconditional love by connecting and meditating on the words and dots, the same type of energy and love experienced between a parent and child.
The first part of the reading this week encapsulates one of the key principals for a successful life - the importance of unity. Specifically, Moses says "all of you stand before the Lord your G-d: your heads, your tribes, your elders, your officers, and every Israelite man; your young ones, your wives, the stranger in your gate; from your wood-hewer to your water drawer." This request for unity by all people regardless of age or status within the community is the key to becoming a nation and achieving a life full of blessing. This message and importance of unity is not exclusively for the people standing in the desert thousands of years ago, but is for us in our everyday lives. When we can achieve unity as a person through certainty of our thoughts, or as a family unit, a business, a city or a nation, we are unstoppable and able to achieve greatness. It is only through division and focus on our personal gain, separate and apart from the overall goals of the unit that we become weak and can be challenged. An old Chasidic story and Aesop's fable communicates this message as follows: a group of quarreling people are told to bring sticks from the forest. They are told that each stick is representative of themselves. When the sticks are bound together, no one can break the bundle, however the sticks are easily snapped when separate and individual. Try to maintain unity in all aspects of your life.
The portion of Nitzavim also imparts to us the practicality of Torah and Torah wisdom. As opposed to a technical and ancient book, only to be read and understood by learned Rabbis, the portion makes it clear that the commandment to observe the Torah is well within our reach and understanding. The reading says in part "for the commandment for which I command you this day, it is not beyond you, nor is it remote from you. It is not in heaven and it is not across the sea. Rather, it is very close to you, in your mouth, in your heart, that you may do it." The wisdom of the Torah is practical, accessible and available for all of humanity to connect and achieve the highest level of consciousness and blessing by following its tenets and laws.