525,600 Minutes: How do you measure a year?
Nitzavim begins on Moses’ final day on earth. Rashi explains that Moses knew the day he was going to die, so he knew that this day, “Hayom” in Hebrew, would be his last chance to address his people. The medieval Spanish scholar Ramban describes Moses’ speech as a repetition or summary of the Israelite’s sacred relationship with God. In the first six verses of Moses’ speech, the word Hayom (today, or this day) appears five times. This is significant, as Parsha Nitzavim always arrives on a Shabbat in the season of Teshuva: the weeks leading up to the High Holy Days. This repetition coupled with the timing of Moses’ words gives a sense of urgency and newness to his words. Moses is in the unique position of holding advanced knowledge about when he would die. Moses knows that on this momentous day, his people will listen more deeply and intently to what he has to say. This was his chance to make a greater impact than he could have made on any other day of his life. If you knew ahead of time when your last day on earth would be, how would you act? What would you do with your remaining time? Obviously, none of us knows when that time will come, which makes the placement of Nitzavim amidst our season of Teshuva especially poignant. The process of teshuvah is one of realigning ourselves each day with the honesty and integrity we would have if we knew we were living our last day. Every year we have the chance to reevaluate our lives. Nitzavim challenges us to live each day as Hayom: to engage with each day as if it were our last, living each moment to the fullest, speaking words of sincerity, and focusing on what is truly important. Jonathan Larson’s, z’l famous “Seasons of Love” from RENT declares “Five hundred twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes
How do you measure the life of a woman or a man? It’s time now to sing out -Though the story never ends.” How do you want to measure your life in this season of Teshuva?