This week’s Torah Portion, Atem Nitzavim, begins:
You stand here this day before Adonai your God: you, your leaders, your tribal chiefs, your elders, your magistrates, every man of Israel, your children, your women, and the converts in your camp – from your woodcutters to your drawers of water. All of you have entered into this covenant before Adonai your God… And it is not with you alone that I am making this covenant. I am making it both with those who are standing here with us today before Adonai our God, and with those who are not here with us today.
Having listed every possible member of the community of Israel, the Torah tells us that all had a part in the making of God’s covenant, even those who were not there that day. So, who could the Torah be referring to? Who were the Children of Israel who were “not here today”? The midrash teaches us that the Torah refers here to the generations of Israel yet to come. In other words, the Torah refers here to us.
We, all of us, stood at Sinai that awesome day. We, all of us and the generations yet to come, stood there – along with every generation of our people – as we set our feet upon the path of Torah which has carried us forward even unto this day. We relive this moment each High Holy Days when again we read these words and stand together as one, just as we did once long ago at Sinai, to begin again on the path of Torah, to begin again on the path to the building of a better world.
This year we may not all be able to physically stand together as we read these words, within the sacred walls of our congregation, but this year, as we do every year, all of us, we stand together as one.