Parashat Nitzavim Vayelech: A Summary
On the day of Moshe’s death, he assembles the whole Jewish people and creates a Covenant confirming the Jewish people as the Almighty’s Chosen People (chosen for responsibility to be a light to the nations) for all future generations. Moshe makes clear the consequences of rejecting G-d and His Torah as well as the possibility of repentance. He reiterates that Torah is readily available to everyone.
Nitzavim concludes with perhaps the clearest and most powerful statement in the Torah about the purpose of life and the existence of free-will: “I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil … the blessing and the curse. Therefore, choose life that you may live, you and your descendants.” (Now that’s a real Quote of the Week!)
Vayelech begins with Moshe passing the torch of leadership to Yehoshua (Joshua). Moshe then gives Yehoshua a command/blessing which applies to every Jewish leader: “Be strong and brave. Do not be afraid or feel insecure before them. G-d your Lord is the One who is going with you, and He will not fail you nor forsake you.”
Moshe writes the entire Torah and gives it to the Cohanim and Elders. He then commands that in the future at the end of the Shmita (Sabbatical Year) the king should gather all the people during the Succot festival and read to them the Torah so “… that they will hear and learn and fear the Lord your G-d and be careful to perform all the words of the Torah.”
The Almighty describes in a short paragraph the course of Jewish history (that’s starting from Deuteronomy 31:16 for the curious). Lastly, before Moshe goes to “sleep with his forefathers,” he assembles the people to teach them the song of Ha’azinu, the next weekly Torah portion, to remind them of the consequences of turning against the Almighty.