The Temple Institute: Temple Talk: Elul 26, 5769/September 15, 2009

"You are all standing this day before the L-rd, your G-d"
(Deuteronomy 29:9)

"You are all standing this day before the L-rd, your G-d the leaders of your tribes, your young children, your women, and your convert who is within your camp both your woodcutters and your water drawers." (Deuteronomy 29:9-10) We read these words this past Shabbat, the Shabbat proceeding Rosh haShana. The verses describe the assembly of the entire nation of Israel, the elders, the young, the leaders, the followers, the learned, the simple, men and women of all professions, newly arrived members of the nation, and even all those who stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Israel to give honor to the G-d of Israel. More appropriate words could not be chosen to describe the very essence of Rosh haShana itself. For on this day, Adam haRishon, the First Man, was created from the dust of the earth, and on this day, his children, all his children, stand before their Father and Creator, the King of all existence. On this day we search our own souls and take stock of our own deeds. On this day we stand before G-d to be counted, to be judged, and to inscribe ourselves into His Book of Life.

Nitzavim is the Hebrew word used in the above verse for "standing." It is not commonly used in this fashion. It is from the word yetziv, which means steady, stable, secure. The same word is used in the story of Yaakov avinu - our father Jacob - in Beit El, where he dreamed of a ladder "standing on the ground and the top of it reaching to heaven." (Genesis 28:12) The Hebrew word translated as "standing' is mutzav, is from the same word yetziv - steady, stable, secure, solid.

Yaakov understood his dream to be about the future Holy Temple. Upon waking he stated, "Surely the L-rd is in this place," and named the place Beit El - "the house of G-d." (ibid 28:16,19) The steady, secure foundation of the Holy Temple is what enables man to enter its gates and approach the heavens. There is a direct connection between the stable foundation of the Holy Temple, and the assembly of the people before G-d in our above quoted verse. For when the children of Israel are united, then G-d stands with them. This is the reality of the Holy Temple, an unbreakable bond between the heavens and the earth.

When Yaakov awoke from his dream, he saw that the twelve separate stones that he had placed beneath his head had united into one: the twelve distinct tribes of Israel had merged and been fused into one. Our sages teach us that this one indivisible stone was none other that the foundation stone of the Holy Temple, upon which the Ark of the Covenant rested in the Holy of Holies.

This Rosh haShana we will stand united and indivisible before our Father and Creator. May we, by the steady and stabilizing strength of unity and our determination to turn this Divine encounter into a universal reality, merit to build G-d's Holy Temple, surely His Book of Life!

Tune in to the week's TEMPLE TALK as Rabbi Chaim Richman and Yitzchak Reuven share some original Torah thoughts relating to the current Torah readings and Rosh HaShana, answer last week’s mystery question concerning Moshe’s whereabouts, and connect all the dots leading to Rosh HaShana, our renewal, and the renewal of all creation.

Part 1
Part 2