This week’s parshah is Nitzavim-Vayelech (Nitzavim is always read on the Shabbat before Rosh Hashanah, and Vayelech is either being read together Nitzavim or on the Shabbat after Rosh Hashanah, Shabbat Shuvah). There are therefore many lessons to be found in the parshah pertaining to Rosh Hashanah and the coming year.

The Conduit

In parshat Vayelech, Moses says: “Take this book of the Torah and place it beside the Ark of the covenant of G‑d your G‑d.”1

The Talmud2 cites two opinions as to where the Torah was actually placed. One says that it was inside the Ark together with the Two Tablets. The other says that it was on the side of the Ark. But according to both opinions, both the Torah and the Ten Commandments were in the Holy of Holies, the chamber that housed the Ark.

The Holy of Holies was above nature. The place where the Ark stood was miraculous; though the Ark was there, it didn’t take up space that could be measured. The natural dimensions of time and space were suspended in the Holy of Holies.

The Ten Commandments were engraved onto the Tablets. When you engrave letters into stone, nothing is added to it. As many words as you engrave, the stone remains the same size. Similar to the Holy of Holies, where the Ark didn’t take up space.

The Ten Commandments were also miraculous. The engraving went all the way through the stone, even for the letters final mem and samech. One being a square and the other a circle, there was no natural way for the centers of the letters to remain in place Yet, the stone centers of those letters were miraculously suspended in place.3

It seems that the objects in the Holy of Holies had a common theme: miraculous and above space and time.

So what was the Torah doing there? With letters written with ink on parchment, the letters took up extra space and there was nothing miraculous about it.

The purpose of the Holy of Holies (and the Ark and the Ten Commandments) was not to remain hidden. Rather, they were there so that their G‑dly light spread out to the Temple, to Jerusalem, and throughout the land of Israel. This, in turn, affected all the Jewish people, ultimately affecting the non-Jewish people as well.

Since the Holy of Holies, the Ark and the Ten Commandments were above nature, there had to be a go-between, a conduit, to bring their light into the natural world. The Torah served as that conduit. It is the Torah that brings the supernatural G‑dly light into our lives. When we keep the Torah, we spread that light throughout the world, affecting even those who aren’t Jewish.

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah is the Holy of Holies of the year. Our service on Rosh Hashanah goes beyond our understanding. Due to our tremendous awe before G‑d, we feel small before Him, as if we are not even there. On Rosh Hashanah, there is a special G‑dly light inspires us to the point that we are willing to sacrifice ourselves, going beyond understanding and above nature.

During the year our mode of service doesn’t have to be beyond our understanding. Even the sacrifices we make are somewhat from our understanding. Nevertheless, in our mundane physical state, we need to try to humble ourselves to the point where we are null, just like on Rosh Hashanah. In this way we draw the light of Rosh Hashanah into our everyday lives, bringing them above nature as well.

In order to be able to accomplish this, we must prepare and set the tone to make this possible. How do we accomplish this?

Nitzavim begins with: “You are standing here today, all of you (kulchem), before the L‑rd your G‑d, your heads, your tribes … from your woodcutters to your water-drawers.”4

“You are standing here today” refers to the Great of Judgement, Rosh Hashanah.5 “Your heads, your tribes ... from your woodcutters to your water-drawers,” refer to the different kinds of Jews.

The Jewish people are compared to one great body. Each of us symbolizes a different part of the body. Some of us are heads; others are arms, legs, etc. We are all necessary to accomplish our national mission. The head leads, but it can’t do much without the arms, and it can’t go anywhere without the legs and feet.

The key to our success is kulchem, “all of you”—being united as one and seeing each other as equally important.

On Rosh Hashanah, because of the greatness of the day and G‑d’s overwhelming presence, there is no place for ego. Before G‑d, we are all equally nothing.


If you can take the Rosh Hashanah egolessness and apply it to the rest of the year—whether you see yourself as the head or the legs—you nullify your ego to the point that you don’t see yourself as better than the other. All are equally important. You will draw the light of Rosh Hashanah throughout the whole year, and with it comes its blessings of health, satisfaction, and sustenance.6

It is so important to treat people with respect. Arrogance and speaking down to people are some of the ugliest traits. They divide us. Humility and respect are some of the most beautiful traits. They unite us.

When we are united, G‑d’s light shines on us, and through us the light shines to the whole world. Through humility and respect for others, we begin to see the value of everyone and how we are not whole without them. When we are united, we find joy in our mission. This joy breaks all boundaries, especially the confines of the dark exile. When it does, Moshiach will be here. May it happen soon!