In this week’s Torah portion of Nitzavim-Vayelech, Moshe (Moses) conducts the final preparations for bringing the Jewish nation into Israel and he renews the covenant that was established between God and the Jewish nation at Sinai. What was the covenant? “To establish you as a people to Him and that He be a God to you..” In plain English, God was entrusting us to be his representatives here on Earth to improve it and elevate it through one mitzvah (Godly deed) and then another.
The Or Hachaim, one of the prominent commentaries on the bible, notes that in this renewal of the covenant Moshe divides the people into several categories:
“The heads of your tribes, your elders…your small children….your women….your convert….to the drawer of your water..”
He explains that Moshe did this to make the point that the covenant to be a holy nation and bring kedusha (holiness) into the world applies to each individual in his/her own unique way. Everyone has the capacity to affect other people as well as their surroundings, but the way a young woman is going to accomplish that is quite different that of a construction worker. A child also has a role in this, but it is much different than that of a scholar or an elder.
In thinking about our response to a world which still needs more goodness, kindness and holiness, we must first recognize the individual talents and gifts that we have been given. Then we have the responsibility to use them in fulfilling the mandate that God has entrusted us with.
Soon we will enter Rosh Hashana (The Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement) and an honest question each of us can ask ourselves is: “How am I using the gifts that God has given me to serve the mission that He has entrusted me with? “Am I living up to my potential and playing my part in the divine story that continues to unfold”?