More than Me by Daniel Atwood


At the beginning of Parshat Nitzavim, the Torah states, “Atem Nitzavim HaYom Kulechem Lifnei Hashem Elokeichem Rasheichem Shivteichem, Zikneichem VeShotereichem Kol Ish Yisrael,” “You are standing today, all of you, before Hashem your G-d, the heads of your tribes, your elders, and your officers, every man of Israel.” Rashi asks a somewhat obvious question. Why does the Torah deem it necessary to enumerate all these categories of people?

Rashi answers that Bnei Yisrael were standing according to their rank. Leaders stood in the front while children were farther back. The Or HaChaim explains that the people were standing this way so that Moshe could teach them a very important lesson, that of Arvut, a sense of community. Everyone is responsible for one another.  Moshe wanted to teach the leaders that they should try to positively influence anyone that they could. The Gemara (Shabbat 54b) teaches that if leaders have the ability to affect a whole nation, they have the obligation to do so. If a man can only affect his household, he is responsible for doing so.  A person is expected to do only what he can, but failure in this regard is unacceptable.

As the time of Selichot and Rosh HaShanah approaches, we must start taking responsibility, not only for ourselves, but for our fellow Jew. If we see someone about to sin, we must try to stop him. Even someone with little influence can make a huge impact on a small group of people around him. The only way we will merit acceptance of our prayers is by sticking together, for the good and bad. Davening with a Minyan is a merit for the entire group. But the opposite is also true; we must realize that there is something bigger than us and our decisions could end up impacting a whole community. 

The Magnitude of Teshuvah by Joseph Jarashow

Down the Line by Rabbi Josh Kahn