Parashat Nitzavim

Choose Life

Every choice we make from birth to death matters.

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We Are One Community

These statistics may seem far away from our own lives in the Global North. However, Nitzavim, this week's parashah, indicates the importance of standing together as one human community. The parashah opens with the words (Deut. 29:9-10):

"You stand this day, all of you, before the Eternal One your God--your tribal heads, your elders, and your officials, all the people of Israel, your children, your wives, even the stranger within your camp from woodchopper to water drawer--to enter into the covenant with the Eternal One Your God."

All of humanity, residents and strangers, tribal heads and water carriers, stand together in a web of mutuality in this portion, ready for what's next, for what will be created together. When we are told to choose life for ourselves, we are also commanded to choose sustainability for the planet.

This week we are just a few days away from Rosh Hashanah. Traditionally these days are spent doing an intensive inner inventory of our lives and our choices as we think about how we want to live in the coming year. In this season, may we stand together in choosing life for ourselves and for the world. As we look toward each other with bleary eyes in the dawn of the New Year, may we ask one another: Tell me. What do you plan to do with this one wild and precious world?

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Rabbi Elliot R. Kukla

Rabbi Elliot Kukla is a rabbi at the Bay Area Jewish Healing Center in San Francisco.