Nitzavim / Rosh Hashana 5761

Tora - Torah

Parshat Nitzavim 27 Elul, 5761 September 15, 2001

Something Old:
To review last year’s Tora-Torah for Nitzavim just click
Something New:

Last year I wrote about the first three words in Parshat Nitzavim (check it out; it had some good lessons). This year, in light of the terrorist horror this week and a D’var Torah by Rabbi Menachem Raab, I’m going to focus on the fourth word, kulchem. First, his words of Torah.

Rabbi Menachem Raab writes: The opening verse starts by telling us that Moshe spoke to all the people and said: “You stand today, all of you, (kulchem) before Hashem your G-d, the heads of your tribes, your elders, your officers  all the men of Israel”. (Deut. 29:9) After enumerating all the individuals, Moshe then repeats “all the men of Israel” and groups them all together, When are you considered “all the men of Israel”, one coherent people? When you count everyone; when “all of you” are included. Every one of you has a different function but all together you constitute the “men of Israel”.

A Chasidic Rabbi also emphasized this thought when he said, when could you all stand “before Hashem”? When you are all united, when you are kulchem, when all of you are together. The tragic fact about our people is that we are not always united. Too often we are pulling in different directions. We do not provide a united front to the world and the world goes by the old adage of “divide and conquer”. The strength of the Jewish people is when they stand together and when they stand before Hashem.

We know the old adage, divide and conquer. People are weakest when they stand alone. When they band together they have strength and can repel any adversary. If you take a bundle of twigs and try to break the bundle all at one time it is impossible. Take one twig at a time and you can break each one and in that way break the entire bundle.

That is why families should stand up for one another. That is why friends should support each other. That is why a nation needs unity among its citizens in order to be able to oppose its outside enemies.

And I might add, (since this was written before the Tuesday tragedy) when the nations and people of the world who want freedom and peace stand together, perhaps there is a chance to purge the great evil that is manifest in the world.

But that is not the Tora-Torah for this week. We can see a whole message for our inner personal development in the first four words of the Parsha as well.

It also focuses on the word kulchem. When you “stand” centered in the moment (nitzavim ha’yom… see last years Tora-Torah), then you will be kulchem, complete, body and soul. What does it mean that the body and soul are united?

We have often quoted that famous Baal Shem Tov formula for being a “faithful servant”: Hachna’ah, Havdala, Hamtaka


Submission, Separation, Sweetening


Yield, Energize, Share.

First, this means that we must first submit to our life’s discipline (e.g., Torah, and Tora Dojo as well).

Next, we must use our disciplined spiritual imagination (our Kavana) to reach for the Source of Light and Life (the Infinite One) and infuse ourselves with it.

Finally, we have to bring that spiritual light back into the physical world and act somewhat differently by having this combined physical/spiritual input/output. Any action done without that connection is k’guf b’li nefesh, like a body without a soul.


There is a profound Rosh Hashanah lesson here as well. In the Machzor we say: What will avert the evil decree? T’shuva, T’fila, Tz’daka.

T’shuva means turning. You can’t turn if you don’t know where you are or have any kind of stance. You must be grounded and self-aware to know where you are. Only then can you objectively assess where you need to turn.

Moreover, in the word T’shuva is the word shayv. Sitting in extended meditation and introspection may bring you to the gate or entry of the Infinite. (As the mystics understand with Avrahamyoshev petach ha’ohel  – sitting/meditating at the opening of the tent or Mordechai yosehayv b’sha’ar hamelech or sitting/meditating at the gate of the King.)

Next, rise higher and transcend your mundane self and judge yourself fully and objectively in the light of your higher vantage point. The root of T’fila is to judge. L’hitpalel, to pray in Hebrew, literally means to judge oneself.

Finally, Tz’daka means right action. What makes action right? A right action is one that is a combined action of body and soul.  You bring the light you have touched back down to earth and share it. That is how our actions sweeten the world. They connect the light or anchor the light to the physical world. (Remember, the root of the word mitzvah is to connect). That is how we fulfill our destiny to be a light unto the nations (not just to the Jewish people).

Summing up, this 3-part formula can be found in the three words of you Parsha. Nitzavim Hayom Kulchem.

First, knowing where we are by virtue of the self-discipline we undertake.

Next, being in the timeless now and tapping into the Infinite Source of light and understanding.

Finally, acting, based on this light-infused awareness that brings tikun (repair) and hamataka (sweetening).


Some word is necessary in the wake of the horrific events these past few days. Our response as Jews and as Americans, as has been the case in the seemingly non-ending terror in Israel, is often to want to answer with violence as well. I don’t know the answer. I do know that there is a time for yin and there is a time for yang.

Ironically, the enemy has learned that by denying everything and staying hidden in cowardice, it follows the Taoist principle of being a target that cannot be hit.

Maybe the time for yang has arrived… it seems like it should. Whichever this time is, yin or yang, it’s important that we not forsake those moments of silence that provide us with a “higher” second opinion to understand the evil that the world faces. The more input we get the more likely our output will be correctly directed.

As an opera singer shatters a glass, may the sound of the Shofar shatter the klipot (the shells and crusts) and remove the veils of evil and apathy in the world.

May we all be inspired to deeper work this year and may the light we bring into the world herald an age of peace, health, life, awareness and understanding.

Shana Tova U’metuka.

"Tora-Torah" is a weekly column on Parshat Hashavua with insights into the inner aspects of the Jewish martial arts as founded and taught by Grand Master H. I. Sober in the International Tora Dojo Martial Arts Association. The copyrighted 'Tora tiger' logo is used with permission of Prof. H. I. Sober.

"Tora-Torah" is written or edited by Michael Andron, PhD. Lao Shih, a Seventh Degree Black Belt in the Tora Dojo Association. He has been teaching Grand Master Sober's system for over 30 years.

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