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Unity Is Our Strength—Nitzavim

Unity Is Our Strength—Nitzavim

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“You are standing together today, all of you . . . to enter into a covenant”—Deuteronomy 29:9, 11.

The Torah portion of Nitzavim is always read on the Shabbat before Rosh Hashanah, which is the anniversary of the creation of man and the day on which, every year, all of creation is judged. How do we merit receiving a favorable judgment from on high? The answer is alluded to in the opening verse of this week’s reading: “You are standing together today, all of you . . . to enter into a covenant.”

Each part of this statement is significant. “Standing” connotes victory—that we merit receiving a favorable verdict. “Today” is the annual Day of Judgment, Rosh Hashanah. “All of you” means the entire nation—as one. “To enter into a covenant” refers to the fact that every individual pledges responsibility to one another, that each is a guarantor for the other.

As long as we hold true to our pact of mutual guarantorship, we are assured that G‑d’s judgment will be for the good.In other words, upon what basis do we receive a favorable judgment? It is based on our unity. As long as we hold true to our pact of mutual guarantorship, then we are assured that G‑d’s judgment of us will be for the good.

A question arises, however: How can every single member of a nation be a guarantor for everyone else? A guarantor must be one who is better off than the one he is guaranteeing. For instance, when a poor man applies for a loan, he asks a wealthier man to be his guarantor. You would not take someone who is poorer than you to be your guarantor. In that case, how can every single individual be a guarantor for all others? Certainly, in any large group of people there are those who have little to offer. How can every individual then be a guarantor for every other?

The answer is simple. In the case of the covenant between G‑d and His people, every individual possesses some unique advantage over every other. Each one can therefore serve as a guarantor for the other. Each member of the nation has some positive quality that is unique to him or her. Every individual is uniquely needed and indispensable.

By “standing together,” in a way that emphasizes our complete interdependence, we surrender our personal identities and redefine ourselves as a part of a greater, unified whole. In this way, we are no longer judged on an individual basis, but as one whole—which includes all of the redeeming virtues of all of the individuals combined.

Ultimately, our welfare relies on the fellowship of recoveryFirst and foremost, our recovery from addiction is a program. Each one of us works this program at varying levels of commitment and proficiency. Each one of us has his or her own strengths and weaknesses, successes and failures. But ultimately, our welfare depends on more than just an individual program of recovery; also, perhaps even more importantly, it relies on the fellowship of recovery. In the group, individual shortcomings fall away, and all that is left are the unique strengths that each individual brings to the whole. Each of us, without exception, has some unique and vital contribution to make to our fellows, and upon which each one of us depends. As lone individuals, we could never have overcome our addictions and live useful and happy lives, but together we stand as a testimony to the fact that there is strength in unity.

Together we are a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Rabbi Ben A. is the most famous anonymous rabbi. Using his pen name, Ben A. draws from his personal experience in recovery to incorporate unique chassidic philosophy into the practice of the 12 Steps.
The idea of this article is based on the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
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Anonymous wilkes barre, pa September 21, 2011

preparing for rosh hashana i think this is amazing sumed up.. to the tee !
ahavas yisrael is the ultimate prepaation for the day of judgment . i am so glad i came across this...i was trying to figure ou what i should focus on the most before the high holidays!!
thank you rabbi Reply

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