Nitzavim, Nitsavim, Nitzabim, Netzavim, or Nesabim (נִצָּבִים — Hebrew for “ones standing,” the second word, and the first distinctive word, in the parashah) is the 51st weekly Torah portion (פָּרָשָׁה, parashah) in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading and the eighth in the book of Deuteronomy. It constitutes Deuteronomy 29:9–30:20.
Jews generally read it in September or, rarely, early October, on the Sabbath immediately before Rosh Hashanah. The lunisolar Hebrew calendar contains up to 55 weeks, the exact number varying between 50 in common years and 54 or 55 in leap years. In some leap years (for example, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022, and 2025), Parashah Nitzavim is read separately. In common years (for example, 2014, 2017, 2020, 2023, 2024, 2026, and 2027), Parashah Nitzavim is combined with the next parashah, Vayelech, to help achieve the number of weekly readings needed. The two Torah portions are combined except when two Sabbaths fall between Rosh Hashanah and Sukkot and neither Sabbath coincides with a Holy Day. In the standard Reform prayerbook for the High Holy Days (מחזור, machzor), parts of the parashah, Deuteronomy 29:9–14 and 30:11–20, are the Torah readings for the morning Yom Kippur service, in lieu of the traditional reading of Leviticus 16.
In the parashah, Moses told the Israelites that all the people stood before God to enter into the covenant, violation of which would bring on every curse, but if they returned to God and heeded God’s commandments, then God would take them back in love and bring them together again from the ends of the world. Moses taught that this Instruction was not beyond reach, and Moses put before the Israelites life and death, blessing and curse, and exhorted them to choose life by loving God and heeding the commandments.
- 1 Readings
- 1.1 First reading — Deuteronomy 29:9–11
- 1.2 Second reading — Deuteronomy 29:12–14
- 1.3 Third reading — Deuteronomy 29:15–28
- 1.4 Fourth reading — Deuteronomy 30:1–6
- 1.5 Fifth reading — Deuteronomy 30:7–10
- 1.6 Sixth reading — Deuteronomy 30:11–14
- 1.7 Seventh reading — Deuteronomy 30:15–20
- 1.8 Readings for Parashiot Nitzavim-Vayelech
- 1.9 Readings according to the triennial cycle
- 2 Key words
- 3 In inner-biblical interpretation
- 4 In classical rabbinic interpretation
- 5 In medieval rabbinic interpretation
- 6 Commandments
- 7 In the liturgy
- 8 Haftarah
- 9 Notes
- 10 Further reading
- 11 External links
In traditional Sabbath Torah reading, the parashah is divided into seven readings, or עליות, aliyot. In the Masoretic Text of the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible), Parashah Nitzavim is a single "open portion" (פתוחה, petuchah) (roughly equivalent to a paragraph, often abbreviated with the Hebrew letter פ, peh) and thus can be considered a single unit. Parashah Nitzavim has several further subdivisions, called "closed portion" (סתומה, setumah) divisions (abbreviated with the Hebrew letter ס, samekh). The first closed portion (סתומה, setumah) spans the first three readings (עליות, aliyot). The second closed portion (סתומה, setumah) spans the fourth and fifth readings (עליות, aliyot). The third closed portion (סתומה, setumah) is coincident with the sixth reading (עליה, aliyah).
First reading — Deuteronomy 29:9–11
Second reading — Deuteronomy 29:12–14
In the second reading (עליה, aliyah), Moses made the covenant both with those who were standing there that day and with those who were not there that day. The second reading (עליה, aliyah) ends here.
Third reading — Deuteronomy 29:15–28
In the third reading (עליה, aliyah), Moses reminded the Israelites that they had dwelt in the land of Egypt and had passed through various other nations and had seen the detestable idols of wood, stone, silver, and gold that those other nations kept. Moses speculated that perchance there were among the Israelites some whose hearts were even then turning away from God to go worship the gods of those nations, who might think themselves immune, thinking that they would be safe though they followed their own willful hearts. But God would never forgive them; rather God’s anger would rage against them until every curse recorded in the Torah would come down upon them and God had blotted out their names. And later generations and other nations would ask why God had done that to those people, and they would be told that it was because they forsook the covenant that God made with them and turned to other gods. So God grew incensed at that land and brought upon it all the curses recorded in the Torah, uprooted them from their soil in anger, and cast them into another land, as would still be the case. Concealed acts concerned God; but with overt acts, it was for the Israelites to apply all the provisions of the Torah. The third reading (עליה, aliyah) and a closed portion (סתומה, setumah) end here with the end of chapter 29.
Fourth reading — Deuteronomy 30:1–6
In the fourth reading (עליה, aliyah), Moses foretold that, after all these curses had befallen them, if they took them to heart in their exile, and they returned to God, and they heeded God’s commandments with all their hearts and souls, then God would restore their fortunes, take them back in love, and bring them together again from the ends of the world to the land that their fathers possessed, and God would make them more prosperous and numerous. Then God would open their hearts to love God with all their hearts and souls, in order that they might live. The fourth reading (עליה, aliyah) ends here.
Fifth reading — Deuteronomy 30:7–10
In the fifth reading (עליה, aliyah), Moses foretold that God would then inflict all those curses on the enemies who persecuted the Israelites, and would bless the Israelites with abounding prosperity, fertility, and productivity. For God would again delight in their wellbeing, as God had in that of their fathers, since they would be heeding God and keeping the commandments once they had returned to God with all their hearts and souls. The fifth reading (עליה, aliyah) and a closed portion (סתומה, setumah) end here.
Sixth reading — Deuteronomy 30:11–14
In the sixth reading (עליה, aliyah), Moses said that surely, this Instruction that he enjoined upon them was not too baffling, beyond reach, in the heavens, or beyond the sea; rather it was very close to them, in their mouths and hearts. The sixth reading (עליה, aliyah) and a closed portion (סתומה, setumah) end here.
Seventh reading — Deuteronomy 30:15–20
In the seventh reading (עליה, aliyah), which is also the concluding maftir (מפטיר) reading, Moses said that he set before them the choice between life and prosperity on the one hand and death and adversity on the other. Moses commanded them to love God, to walk in God’s ways, and to keep God’s commandments, that they might thrive and increase, and that God might bless them in the land. But if their hearts turned away and they gave no heed, and were lured into the worship of other gods, Moses warned that they would certainly perish and not long endure in the land. Moses called heaven and earth to witness that he had put before the Israelites life and death, blessing and curse. He exhorted them to choose life by loving God, heeding the commandments, and holding fast to God, so that they might have life and long endure on the land that God swore to their ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The seventh reading (עליה, aliyah), an open portion (פתוחה, petuchah), and the parashah end here.
Readings for Parashiot Nitzavim-Vayelech
When Jews read Parashah Nitzavim together with Parashah Vayelech, they divide readings according to the following schedule:
Readings according to the triennial cycle
In years when Jews read the parashah separately, Jews who read the Torah according to the triennial cycle of Torah reading nonetheless read the entire parashah according to the schedule of first through seventh readings above. When Jews read Parashah Nitzavim together with Parashah Vayelech, Jews who read the Torah according to the triennial cycle can read the parashah according to the following schedule.
|Year 1||Year 2||Year 3|
In inner-biblical interpretation
The parashah has parallels or is discussed in these Biblical sources:
Deuteronomy chapter 29
In Deuteronomy 29:9–10, Moses cast the net broadly to include in the covenant all in the Israelite camp, including “your stranger” and those in the servant classes of “the hewer of your wood to the drawer of your water.” In Joshua 9:3–15, the Gibeonites tricked Joshua into believing that they were not among the local inhabitants whom God had instructed the Israelites to eliminate. In recompense, in Joshua 9:21, the Israelite chieftains decreed that they should become “hewers of wood and drawers of water to all the congregation,” and in Joshua 9:27, “Joshua made them that day hewers of wood and drawers of water for the congregation, and for the altar of the Lord.” Even so, 2 Samuel 21:2 reports that later in the time of David, “the Gibeonites were not of the children of Israel, but of the remnant of the Amorites.”
Deuteronomy chapter 30
Moses calls heaven and earth to serve as witnesses against Israel in Deuteronomy 4:26, 30:19, 31:28, and 32:1. Similarly, Psalm 50:4–5 reports that God “summoned the heavens above, and the earth, for the trial of His people,” saying “Bring in My devotees, who made a covenant with Me over sacrifice!” Psalm 50:6 continues: “Then the heavens proclaimed His righteousness, for He is a God who judges.”
In classical rabbinic interpretation
Deuteronomy chapter 29
Rabbi Joshua ben Levi noted that the promise of Deuteronomy 29:8 that whoever studies the Torah prospers materially is written in the Torah, the Prophets (נְבִיאִים, Nevi'im), and the Writings (כְּתוּבִים, Ketuvim). In the Torah, Deuteronomy 29:8 says: “Observe therefore the words of this covenant, and do them, that you may make all that you do to prosper.” It is repeated in the Prophets in Joshua 1:8, “This book of the Law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate therein day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written therein; for then you shall make your ways prosperous, and then you shall have good success.” And it is mentioned a third time in the Writings in Psalm 1:2–3, “But his delight is in the Law of the Lord, and in His Law does he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by streams of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, and whose leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does he shall prosper.”
The Gemara deduced from the separate mention of “all the men of Israel,” “your stranger,” and “the hewer of your wood to the drawer of your water” in Deuteronomy 29:9–10 that Moses meant to decree that the hewers of wood and the drawers of water (whom the Gemara deduced from Joshua 9:27 were Gibeonites) were to be considered neither Israelites nor converts in that generation. The Gemara further deduced that in Joshua 9:27, Joshua extended that decree of separation for the period during which the Sanctuary existed, and in 2 Samuel 21:2, David extended the decree for all generations.
The school of Rabbi Yannai relied on the reference in Deuteronomy 29:9–10 to “the hewer of your wood to the drawer of your water” to teach that slaves, as well, were children of the Covenant. The school of Rabbi Yannai taught that they could thus serve as agents for the delivery of divorce documents.
The Gemara interpreted the words “not with you alone do I make this covenant” in Deuteronomy 29:13 to teach that Moses adjured the Israelites to agree with the covenant not just as they understood it themselves, but also as Moses understood it, and as God understands it.
In response to a question from Rav Aha son of Rava, Rav Ashi taught that although later converts to Judaism may not have been literally present at Mount Sinai, Deuteronomy 29:13–14 indicated that their angellic advocates were present when it said: “Neither with you only do I make this covenant and this oath, but with him who stands here with us this day before the Lord our God, and also with him who is not here with us this day.”
A Midrash interpreted Deuteronomy 29:13–14 to teach that God made a covenant not only with those at Sinai but also with generations to come. Rabbi Abbahu taught in the name of Rabbi Samuel bar Nachmani that Deuteronomy 29:14 says, “with him who stands here with us this day . . . and also with him who is not here with us this day,” because souls were there even though their bodies were not yet created.
Similarly, Rabbi Isaac read Deuteronomy 29:14 to teach that the prophets received from the Revelation at Sinai all the messages that they were to prophesy to subsequent generations. For Deuteronomy 29:14 does not say, “who are not here standing with us this day,” but just “who are not with us this day.” Rabbi Isaac taught that Deuteronomy 29:14 thus refers to the souls that were to be created thereafter; because these souls did not yet have any substance in them, they could not yet be “standing” at Sinai. But although these souls did not yet exist, they still received their share of the Torah that day. Similarly, Rabbi Isaac concluded that all the Sages who arose in every generation thereafter received their wisdom from the Revelation at Sinai, for Deuteronomy 5:19 says, “These words the Lord spoke to all your assembly . . . with a great voice, and it went on no more,” implying that God’s Revelation went on no more thereafter.
Reading Deuteronomy 29:14, the Pirke De-Rabbi Eliezer told that at the Revelation at Sinai, when the voice of the first commandment went forth, the heavens and earth quaked, the waters and rivers fled, the mountains and hills moved, all the trees fell prostrate, and the dead who were in Sheol revived and stood on their feet until the end of all the generations. For Deuteronomy 29:14 says, “with him who stands here with us this day.” And the Pirke De-Rabbi Eliezer read Deuteronomy 29:14 to teach that those who in the future would be created, until the end of all the generations, also stood there with those at Mount Sinai, as Deuteronomy 29:14 says, “And also with him who is not here with us this day.”
In Deuteronomy 29:18, the heart cavils. A Midrash catalogued the wide range of additional capabilities of the heart reported in the Hebrew Bible. The heart speaks, sees, hears, walks, falls, stands, rejoices, cries, is comforted, is troubled, becomes hardened, grows faint, grieves, fears, can be broken, becomes proud, rebels, invents, overflows, devises, desires, goes astray, lusts, is refreshed, can be stolen, is humbled, is enticed, errs, trembles, is awakened, loves, hates, envies, is searched, is rent, meditates, is like a fire, is like a stone, turns in repentance, becomes hot, dies, melts, takes in words, is susceptible to fear, gives thanks, covets, becomes hard, makes merry, acts deceitfully, speaks from out of itself, loves bribes, writes words, plans, receives commandments, acts with pride, makes arrangements, and aggrandizes itself.
Rav Judah taught in Rav’s name that the words, “that he bless himself in his heart, saying: ‘I shall have peace, though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart — that the watered be swept away with the dry’; the Lord will not be willing to pardon him,” in Deuteronomy 29:18–19 apply to one who marries his daughter to an old man, or takes a mature wife for his infant son, or returns a lost article to an idolater.
Rabbi Haninah (or some say Rabbi Joshua ben Levi) deduced from the words “the whole land thereof is brimstone, and salt” in Deuteronomy 29:19 that all the land of Israel was burned, and thus even wicked people buried in the land of Israel before that time will merit to be resurrected, because the burning of the land will have executed on them the punishment that justice demanded. A Baraita taught in the name of Rabbi Judah that the land of Israel burned for seven years.
Explaining an assertion by Rabbi Jose, Rabbi Johanan deduced from the parallel use of word “covenant” in Deuteronomy 29:24 and Daniel 9:27 that the land sown with “brimstone and salt” foretold in Deuteronomy 29:21–24 was the same seven years of barren soil inflicted by Israel’s enemy in Daniel 9:27.
Rabbi Akiva interpreted the words “and [He] cast them into another land, as it is this day” in Deuteronomy 29:27 to teach that the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel were destined not to return. But Rabbi Eliezer interpreted the allusion to “day” in Deuteronomy 29:27 differently, teaching that just as the day darkens and then becomes light again, so even though it went dark for the Ten Tribes, it will become light for them again.
Two Tannaim disputed why dots appear in the Masoretic Text over the words “to us and to our children forever” (לָנוּ וּלְבָנֵינוּ, עַד, lanu ulvaneinu ad) in Deuteronomy 29:28. Rabbi Judah said that the dots teach that God would not punish the Israelite community as a whole for transgressions committed in secret until the Israelites had crossed the Jordan River. Rabbi Nehemiah questioned, however, whether God ever punished the Israelite community for transgressions committed in secret, noting that Deuteronomy 29:28 said, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God . . . forever.” Rabbi Nehemiah taught that God did not punish the Israelite community for secret transgressions at any time, and God did not punish the Israelite community as a whole for open transgressions until they had crossed the Jordan.
Rabbi taught that when all Israel stood before Mount Sinai to receive the Torah, they decided unanimously to accept the reign of God joyfully. Furthermore, they pledged themselves responsible for one another. God was willing to make a covenant with the Israelites not only concerning overt acts that God revealed to Israel, but also concerning God’s secret acts, reading Deuteronomy 29:28 to say, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God and the things that are revealed.” But the Israelites told God that they were ready to make a covenant with God with regard to overt acts, but not with regard to secret acts, lest one Israelite commit a sin secretly and the entire community be held responsible for it.
A Midrash offered alternative explanations of why there are points over the words “to us and to our children” (לָנוּ וּלְבָנֵינוּ, lanu ulbaneinu) and over the first letter (עַ, ayin) of the word “to” (עַד, ad) in Deuteronomy 29:28. One explanation: God told the Israelites that they had performed the precepts that had been revealed, and God, on God’s part, would make known to them the things that were secret. Another explanation: Ezra (whom some consider the author of these diacritical points, although others regard them as having come from Sinai) reasoned that if Elijah came and asked Ezra why he had written these words, Ezra could answer that he had already placed points over them. And if Elijah told Ezra that he had done well in writing them, then Ezra would erase the points over them. (If Elijah said that the words should not have been written, Ezra could answer that he had dotted them so that people could understand that they were to be disregarded. If Elijah approved of the words, then Ezra could erase the dots.)
The Avot of Rabbi Natan enumerated ten Torah passages marked with dots. The Avot of Rabbi Natan interpreted the dots over Deuteronomy 29:28 to teach that the secret things are not revealed to us in this world, but will be in the world to come.
Deuteronomy chapter 30
A Midrash interpreted Deuteronomy 30:1–6 to teach that if the Israelites repented while they were in exile, then God would gather them back together, as Deuteronomy 30:1–6 says, “And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon you, the blessing and the curse . . . and [you] shall return . . . and hearken to His voice . . . the Lord your God will bring you into the land . . . and the Lord your God will circumcise your heart.”
Rabbi Simon ben Yohai deduced from the words “the Lord your God will return [with] your captivity” in Deuteronomy 30:3 that the Shechinah went with the Israelites to every place to which they were exiled, and will be with them when they are redeemed in the future. By way of explanation, the Baraita noted that Deuteronomy 30:3 did not say “and [God] shall bring back” but “and [God] shall return,” teaching that God will return with the Israelites from their places of exile. Rabbi Simon concluded that Deuteronomy 30:3 thus showed how beloved the Children of Israel are in God’s sight.
Rabbi Jose bar Haninah deduced from Deuteronomy 30:5 that when the Jews arrived back in the land of Israel in the time of Ezra, they once again became obligated to obey commandments like tithes (מעשרות, ma’asrot). Rabbi Jose bar Haninah reasoned that the words, “And the Lord your God will bring you into the land that your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it,” in Deuteronomy 30:5 showed that the Jews’ possession of the land in the time of Ezra was comparable to their possession of it in the time of Joshua. And thus just as Jews in the time of Joshua were obliged to tithe, so Jews in the time of Ezra were obliged to tithe. And the Gemara interpreted the words, “He will do you good, and make you greater than you fathers,” in Deuteronomy 30:5 to teach that the Jews of the time of Ezra were still able to enter the land of Israel as their ancestors had, even though the Jews of the time of Ezra bore the yoke of foreign government on their shoulders and their ancestors had not.
A Midrash taught that fools enter the synagogue, and seeing people occupying themselves with the law, ask how a person learns the law. They answer that first a person reads from children’s materials, then from the Torah, then from the Prophets (נְבִיאִים, Nevi'im), and then from the Writings (כְּתוּבִים, Ketuvim). Then the person learns the Talmud, then the law (הֲלָכָה, halachah), and then the Midrash (הגדות, haggadot). Hearing this, fools ask themselves when they can learn all that, and turn to leave. Rabbi Jannai compared this to a loaf suspended in the air. The fool exclaims that no one can bring it down. But the wise person says that someone put it there and takes a ladder or stick and brings it down. So fools complain that they are unable to read all the law. But wise people learn a chapter every day until they read all the law. God said in Deuteronomy 30:11, “it is not too hard for you,” but if you find it too hard, it is your own fault, because you do not study it.
A Midrash told that if people complained that the Torah disadvantaged them, they should know that God actually gave them the Torah to benefit then. The ministering angels eagerly sought to get the Torah, but God hid it from them, as Job 28:21 says, "Seeing it (that is, Wisdom) is hid from the eyes of all living (חָי, chai)," and חָי, chai, refers to the חַיּוֹת, chayot, the Heavenly living creatures cited in Ezekiel 1:5. Then Job 28:21 continues, "And kept close from the flying beings of the air," and this refers to the angels, as Isaiah 6:6 says, "Then flew to me one of the Seraphim." God told the Israelites that the law was too abstruse for the ministering angels, but not for the Israelites, as Deuteronomy 30:11 says, "this commandment that I command you this day, it is not too hard for you."
Rav Judah taught in the name of Rav that because, as Deuteronomy 30:11–12 reports, the Torah is not in Heaven, God was not able to answer Joshua’s questions about the law. Rav Judah reported in the name of Rav that when Moses was dying, he invited Joshua to ask him about any doubts that Joshua might have. Joshua replied by asking Moses whether Joshua had ever left Moses for an hour and gone elsewhere. Joshua asked Moses whether Moses had not written in Exodus 33:11, “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one man speaks to another. . . . But his servant Joshua the son of Nun departed not out of the Tabernacle.” Joshua’s words wounded Moses, and immediately the strength of Moses waned, and Joshua forgot 300 laws, and 700 doubts concerning laws arose in Joshua’s mind. The Israelites then arose to kill Joshua (unless he could resolve these doubts). God then told Joshua that it was not possible to tell him the answers (for, as Deuteronomy 30:11–12 tells, the Torah is not in Heaven). Instead, God then directed Joshua to occupy the Israelites’ attention in war, as Joshua 1:1–2 reports.
A Baraita taught that one day, Rabbi Eliezer employed every imaginable argument for the proposition that a particular type of oven was not susceptible to ritual impurity, but the Sages did not accept his arguments. Then Rabbi Eliezer told the Sages, “If the law agrees with me, then let this carob tree prove it,” and the carob tree moved 100 cubits (and others say 400 cubits) out of its place. But the Sages said that no proof can be brought from a carob tree. Then Rabbi Eliezer told the Sages, “If the halachah agrees with me, let this stream of water prove it,” and the stream of water flowed backwards. But the Sages said that no proof can be brought from a stream of water. Then Rabbi Eliezer told the Sages, “If the halachah agrees with me, let the walls of this house of study prove it,” and the walls leaned over as if to fall. But Rabbi Joshua rebuked the walls, telling them not to interfere with scholars engaged in a halachic dispute. In honor of Rabbi Joshua, the walls did not fall, but in honor of Rabbi Eliezer, the walls did not stand upright, either. Then Rabbi Eliezer told the Sages, “If the halachah agrees with me, let Heaven prove it,” and a Heavenly Voice cried out: “Why do you dispute with Rabbi Eliezer, for in all matters the halachah agrees with him!” But Rabbi Joshua rose and exclaimed in the words of Deuteronomy 30:12: “It is not in heaven.” Rabbi Jeremiah explained that God had given the Torah at Mount Sinai; Jews pay no attention to Heavenly Voices, for God wrote in Exodus 23:2: “After the majority must one incline.” Later, Rabbi Nathan met Elijah and asked him what God did when Rabbi Joshua rose in opposition to the Heavenly Voice. Elijah replied that God laughed with joy, saying, "My children have defeated Me, My children have defeated Me!"
Rav Hisda taught that one should use mnemonic devices to learn the Torah. And the Gemara taught that this agrees with Abdimi bar Hama bar Dosa, who interpreted Deuteronomy 30:12 to mean that if it were “in heaven,” one would have to go up after it, and if it were “beyond the sea,” one would have to go overseas after it. Rather, people can learn the Torah using the tools that they find where they are. Rava (or some say Rabbi Johanan) interpreted “it is not in heaven” to mean that the Torah is not to be found among those who believe that their insight towers as high as the heavens. And Rava interpreted “neither is it beyond the sea” to mean that it is not to be found among those whose self-esteem expands as the sea. Rabbi Johanan (or some say Rava) interpreted “it is not in heaven” to mean that the Torah is not to be found among the arrogant. And Rabbi Johanan interpreted “neither is it beyond the sea” to mean that it is not to be found among traveling merchants and business people.
A Midrash interpreted the words “For this commandment . . . is not in heaven” in Deuteronomy 30:11–12 to teach that Jews should not look for another Moses to come and bring another Torah from heaven, for no part of the Torah remained in heaven. Rabbi Hanina interpreted the words “For this commandment . . . is not in heaven” in Deuteronomy 30:11–12 to teach that God gave the Torah with all its characteristic teachings of meekness, righteousness, and uprightness, and also its reward. Samuel interpreted the words “For this commandment . . . is not in heaven” in Deuteronomy 30:11–12 to teach that the Torah is not to be found among astrologers who gaze at the heavens. When people countered that Samuel himself was an astrologer and also a great Torah scholar, he replied that he engaged in astrology only when he was free from studying the Torah — when he was in the bath.
Reading Deuteronomy 30:11–14, "For this commandment that I command you this day . . . is very near to you, in your mouth, and in your heart," a Midrash related the commandments to the human body. The Midrash taught that Deuteronomy 30:11–14 bears out Proverbs 4:22, "For they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh." Rabbi Hiyya taught that the law is a salve for the eye, an emollient for a wound, and a root-drink for the bowels. The law is a salve for the eye, as Psalm 19:9 says, "The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes." The law is an emollient for a wound, as Proverbs 3:8 says, "It shall be health to your navel." And the law is a root-drink for the bowels, as Proverbs 3:8 continues, "And marrow to your bones." Another Midrash read Deuteronomy 30:11–14, "For this commandment that I command you this day . . . is very near to you, in your mouth," together with Proverbs 4:22, "For they are life to those who find them," to teach that the commandments are life for those who speak them aloud. The Midrash related that a disciple of Rabbi Eliezer ben Jacob used to run through all of his study in a single hour, and when once when he fell ill, he forgot all that he had learned, because he did not speak the words out loud. When, however, Rabbi Eliezer ben Jacob prayed for him, all his learning came back to him. Another Midrash read Deuteronomy 30:11–14 together with Proverbs 4:22 to teach that the commandments are life to those who tell them to others. Another Midrash read Deuteronomy 30:11–14 together with Proverbs 4:22, "For they are life to those who find them," to teach that the commandments are life to those who carry out the commandments completely, for Deuteronomy repeatedly says, "all the commandment" (כָּל-הַמִּצְוָה, kol ha-mitzvah), which the Midrash taught means until one completely carries out all the precepts. And the Midrash taught that the conclusion of Proverbs 4:22, "health to all their flesh," refers to all the parts of the body, demonstrating the force of Deuteronomy 30:11–14, "For this commandment that I command you this day . . . is very near to you, in your mouth, and in your heart."
Reading Deuteronomy 30:11–14, "For this commandment that I command you this day . . . is very near to you, in your mouth, and in your heart," a Midrash interpreted "heart" and "mouth" to symbolize the beginning and end of fulfilling a precept and thus read Deuteronomy 30:11–14 as an exhortation to complete a good deed once started. Thus Rabbi Hiyya bar Abba taught that if one begins a precept and does not complete it, the result will be that he will bury his wife and children. The Midrash cited as support for this proposition the experience of Judah, who began a precept and did not complete it. When Joseph came to his brothers and they sought to kill him, as Joseph's brothers said in Genesis 37:20, "Come now therefore, and let us slay him," Judah did not let them, saying in Genesis 37:26, "What profit is it if we slay our brother?" and they listened to him, for he was their leader. And had Judah called for Joseph's brothers to restore Joseph to their father, they would have listened to him then, as well. Thus because Judah began a precept (the good deed toward Joseph) and did not complete it, he buried his wife and two sons, as Genesis 38:12 reports, "Shua's daughter, the wife of Judah, died," and Genesis 46:12 further reports, "Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan." In another Midrash reading "heart" and "mouth" in Deuteronomy 30:11–14 to symbolize the beginning and the end of fulfilling a precept, Rabbi Levi said in the name of Hama bar Hanina that if one begins a precept and does not complete it, and another comes and completes it, it is attributed to the one who has completed it. The Midrash illustrated this by citing how Moses began a precept by taking the bones of Joseph with him, as Exodus 13:19 reports, "And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him." But because Moses never brought Joseph's bones into the Land of Israel, the precept is attributed to the Israelites, who buried them, as Joshua 24:32 reports, "And the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, they buried in Shechem." Joshua 24:32 does not say, "Which Moses brought up out of Egypt," but "Which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt." And the Midrash explained that the reason that they buried Joseph's bones in Shechem could be compared to a case in which some thieves stole a cask of wine, and when the owner discovered them, the owner told them that after they had consumed the wine, they needed to return the cask to its proper place. So when the brothers sold Joseph, it was from Shechem that they sold him, as Genesis 37:13 reports, "And Israel said to Joseph: 'Do not your brothers feed the flock in Shechem?'" God told the brothers that since they had sold Joseph from Shechem, they needed to return Joseph's bones to Shechem. And as the Israelites completed the precept, it is called by their name, demonstrating the force of Deuteronomy 30:11–14, "For this commandment that I command you this day . . . is very near to you, in your mouth, and in your heart."
Rabbi Samuel bar Nachmani told a parable to explain the words of Deuteronomy 30:14, “But the word is very near to you, in your mouth, and in your heart, that you may do it.” Rabbi Samuel taught that it is as if there were a king's daughter who was not acquainted with any man, and the king had a friend who could visit him at any time, and the princess waited on the friend. The king told the friend that this indicated how much the king loved him, for no one was acquainted with his daughter, yet she waited upon the friend. Similarly, God told Israel that it indicated how beloved Israel was to God, for no being in God’s palace was acquainted with the Torah, yet God entrusted it to Israel. As Job 28:21 says, “Seeing it is hid from the eyes of all living,” but as for the Children of Israel (as Deuteronomy 30:11–14 says), “It is not too hard for you . . . but the word is very near to you.”
Rabbi Ammi expounded on the words, “For it is a pleasant thing if you keep them [words of the wise] within you; let them be established altogether upon your lips,” in Proverbs 22:18. He explained that the words of the Torah are “pleasant” when one keeps them within oneself, and one does that when the words are “established altogether upon your lips.” Rabbi Isaac said that this may be derived from the words of Deuteronomy 30:14: “But the word is very near to you, in your mouth, and in your heart, that you may do it,” for “it is very near to you” when it is “in your mouth and in your heart” to do it. Thus, reading the Torah aloud helps one to keep its precepts in one’s heart, and thus to carry them out.
The Gemara taught that the words “if your heart turns away . . . you will not hear” in Deuteronomy 30:17 can describe Torah study. If one listens to the old, and reviews what one has already learned, then one will perceive new understanding. But if one turns away and does not review what one has learned, then one may not perceive the opportunity for new learning.
Rabbi Haggai taught that not only had God in Deuteronomy 11:26 set two paths before the Israelites, “a blessing and a curse,” but God did not administer justice to them according to the strict letter of the law, but allowed them mercy so that they might (in the words of Deuteronomy 30:19) “choose life.”
The Sifre explained that Deuteronomy 11:26–28 explicitly says, “I set before you this day a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments . . . and the curse, if you shall not obey the commandments,” because otherwise the Israelites might read Deuteronomy 30:19, “I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse,” and think that since God set before them both paths, they could go whichever way they chose. Thus, Deuteronomy 30:19 directs explicitly: “choose life.”
Rabbi Ishmael deduced from the words “choose life” in Deuteronomy 30:19 that one can learn a trade to earn a livelihood, notwithstanding the admonition of Joshua 1:8 that “you shall contemplate [the Torah] day and night.”
Rav Judah interpreted the words “for that is your life and the length of your days” in Deuteronomy 30:20 to teach that refusing to read when one is given a Torah scroll to read is one of three things that shorten a person’s days and years (along with refusing to say grace when one is given a cup of benediction and assuming airs of authority).
The Rabbis taught that once the Roman government forbade Jews to study the Torah. Pappus ben Judah found Rabbi Akiva publicly gathering people to study Torah and asked Akiva whether he did not fear the government. Akiva replied with a parable: A fox was once walking alongside of a river, and he saw fish swimming from one place to another. The fox asked the fish from what they fled. The fish replied that they fled from the nets cast by men. The fox invited the fish to come up onto the dry land, so that they could live together as the fox’s ancestors had lived with the fish’s ancestors. The fish replied that for an animal described as the cleverest of animals, the fox was rather foolish. For if the fish were afraid in the element in which they live, how much more would they fear in the element in which they would die. Akiva said that it was the same with Jews. If such was the Jews’ condition when they sat and studied Torah, of which Deuteronomy 30:20 says, “that is your life and the length of your days,” how much worse off would Jews be if they neglected the Torah!
A Baraita was taught in the Academy of Eliyahu: A certain scholar diligently studied Bible and Mishnah, and greatly served scholars, but nonetheless died young. His wife carried his tefillin to the synagogues and schoolhouses and asked if Deuteronomy 30:20 says, “for that is your life, and the length of your days,” why her husband nonetheless died young. No one could answer her. On one occasion, Eliyahu asked her how he was to her during her days of white garments — the seven days after her menstrual period — and she reported that they ate, drank, and slept together without clothing. Eliyahu explained that God must have slain him because he did not sufficiently respect the separation that Leviticus 18:19 requires.
In medieval rabbinic interpretation
The parashah is discussed in these medieval rabbinic sources:
Deuteronomy chapter 30
In his Mishneh Torah, Maimonides hinged his discussion of free will on Deuteronomy 30:15 says, “Behold, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil.” Maimonides taught that God grants free will to all people. One can choose to turn to good or evil.
Maimonides taught that people should not entertain the foolish thesis that at the time of their creation, God decrees whether they will be righteous or wicked (what some call “predestination”). Rather, each person is fit to be righteous or wicked. Jeremiah implied this in Lamentations 3:38: “From the mouth of the Most High, neither evil nor good come forth.” Accordingly, sinners, themselves, cause their own loss. It is thus proper for people to mourn for their sins and for the evil consequences that they have brought upon their own souls. Jeremiah continues that since free choice is in our hands and our own decision prompts us to commit wrongs, it is proper for us to repent and abandon our wickedness, for the choice is in our hands. This is implied by Lamentations 3:40, “Let us search and examine our ways and return [to God].”
Maimonides taught that this principle is a a pillar on which rests the Torah and the commandments, as Deuteronomy 30:15 says, “Behold, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil,” and Deuteronomy 11:26 says, “Behold, I have set before you today the blessing and the curse,” implying that the choice is in our hands.
Maimonides argued that the idea that God decrees that an individual is righteous or wicked (as imagined by astrology) is inconsistent with God’s command through the prophets to “do this” or “not do this.” For according to this mistaken conception, from the beginning of humanity’s creation, their nature would draw them to a particular quality and they could not depart from it. Maimonides saw such a view as inconsistent with the entire Torah, with the justice of retribution for the wicked or reward for the righteous, and with the idea that the world’s Judge acts justly.
Maimonides taught that even so, nothing happens in the world without God’s permission and desire, as Psalm 135:6 says, “Whatever God wishes, He has done in the heavens and in the earth.” Maimonides said that everything happens in accord with God’s will, and, nevertheless, we are responsible for our deeds. Explaining how this apparent contradiction is resolved, Maimonides said that just as God desired that fire rises upward and water descends downward, so too, God desired that people have free choice and be responsible for their deeds, without being pulled or forced. Rather, people, on their own initiative, with the knowledge that God granted them, do anything that people are able to do. Therefore, people are judged according to their deeds. If they do good, they are treated with beneficence. If they do bad, they are treated harshly. This is implied by the prophets.
Maimonides acknowledged that one might ask: Since God knows everything that will occur before it comes to pass, does God not know whether a person will be righteous or wicked? And if God knows that a person will be righteous, it would appear impossible for that person not to be righteous. However, if one would say that despite God’s knowledge that the person would be righteous it is possible for the person to be wicked, then God’s knowledge would be incomplete. Maimonides taught that just as it is beyond human potential to comprehend God’s essential nature, as Exodus 33:20 says, “No man will perceive Me and live,” so, too, it is beyond human potential to comprehend God’s knowledge. This was what Isaiah intended when Isaiah 55:8 says, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor your ways, My ways.” Accordingly, we do not have the potential to conceive how God knows all the creations and their deeds. But Maimonides said that it is without doubt that people’s actions are in their own hands and God does not decree them. Consequently, the prophets taught that people are judged according to their deeds.
According to Maimonides and the Sefer ha-Chinuch, there are no commandments in the parashah. Nachmanides, however, reading Deuteronomy 30:11, suggests that Deuteronomy 30:2 contains a commandment of repentance (תשובה, teshuvah).
In the liturgy
The prophet rejoiced in God, who had clothed him with salvation, covered him with victory, as a bridegroom dons a priestly diadem, as a bride adorns herself with jewels. For as the earth brings forth vegetation, so God will cause victory and glory to sprout before the nations.
For Zion’s sake, the prophet would not hold his peace, until Jerusalem’s triumph would burn brightly for the nations to see, and Zion would be called by a new name given by God. Zion would be a crown of beauty in God’s hand, and no more would she be called Forsaken or Desolate, but she would be called Delight and Espoused, for God would rejoice over her as a bridegroom over his bride.
The prophet set lookouts on Jerusalem’s walls, until God would make Jerusalem a praise in the earth. God has sworn no more to give Israel’s corn to her enemies, nor her wine to strangers, but those who harvested shall eat, and those who gathered shall drink, in the courts of God’s sanctuary.
The prophet said clear the way, for God proclaimed to Zion that her salvation was coming. And they shall call the Israelites the holy people, and Jerusalem shall be called Sought out, not Forsaken.
The prophet asked Who came in crimson garments from Edom, mighty to save, and why God’s apparel was red like one who trod in the wine vat. God said that God had trodden the winepress in anger alone, and trampled in fury, for the day of vengeance was in God’s heart, and God’s year of redemption had come. God looked and found none to help to uphold God’s will, so God trod down the peoples in anger, and poured out their blood.
The prophet spoke of God’s mercies and praises, of God’s great goodness toward Israel, which God bestowed with compassion. For God said, “Surely, they are My people,” and so God was their Savior. In all their affliction God was afflicted, and God’s angel saved them; in love and pity God redeemed them, and God bore them and carried them all the days of old.
Connection to the Special Sabbath
- "Parashat Nitzavim". Hebcal. Retrieved September 12, 2014.
- W. Gunther Plaut. The Torah: A Modern Commentary, page 1553. New York: Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1981. ISBN 0-8074-0055-6.
- Gates of Repentance: The New Union Prayerbook for the Days of Awe. Edited by Chaim Stern, pages 342–45. New York: Central Conference of American Rabbis, Revised ed. 1996. ISBN 0-88123-069-3.
- See, e.g., The Schottenstein Edition Interlinear Chumash: Devarim / Deuteronomy. Edited by Menachem Davis, pages 185–95. Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 2009. ISBN 1-4226-0210-9.
- Deuteronomy 29:9–11.
- See, e.g., The Schottenstein Edition Interlinear Chumash: Devarim / Deuteronomy. Edited by Menachem Davis, page 186.
- Deuteronomy 29:13–14.
- Deuteronomy 29:15–16.
- Deuteronomy 29:17–18.
- Deuteronomy 29:19–20.
- Deuteronomy 29:21–25.
- Deuteronomy 29:26–27.
- Deuteronomy 29:28.
- See, e.g., The Schottenstein Edition Interlinear Chumash: Devarim / Deuteronomy. Edited by Menachem Davis, page 190.
- Deuteronomy 30:1–5.
- Deuteronomy 30:6.
- See, e.g., The Schottenstein Edition Interlinear Chumash: Devarim / Deuteronomy. Edited by Menachem Davis, page 191.
- Deuteronomy 30:7–9.
- Deuteronomy 30:9–10.
- See, e.g., The Schottenstein Edition Interlinear Chumash: Devarim / Deuteronomy. Edited by Menachem Davis, page 192.
- Deuteronomy 30:11–14.
- See, e.g., The Schottenstein Edition Interlinear Chumash: Devarim / Deuteronomy. Edited by Menachem Davis, page 193.
- Deuteronomy 30:15.
- Deuteronomy 30:16.
- Deuteronomy 30:17–18.
- Deuteronomy 30:19.
- Deuteronomy 30:19–20.
- See, e.g., The Schottenstein Edition Interlinear Chumash: Devarim / Deuteronomy. Edited by Menachem Davis, page 195.
- "Parashat Nitzavim-Vayeilech". Hebcal. Retrieved September 13, 2014.
- See, e.g., "A Complete Triennial Cycle for Reading the Torah". The Jewish Theological Seminary. Retrieved June 16, 2014.
- Deuteronomy 29:9, 11 (2 times), 12, 14, 17 (2 times), 24, 25 (2 times), 28; 30:1, 2, 3 (2 times), 4, 5, 6 (2 times), 7, 9, 10 (2 times), 16 (2 times), 17, 20.
- Deuteronomy 29:9, 11, 12, 14 (2 times), 17, 27; 30:2, 8, 11, 15, 16, 18 (2 times), 19, 20.
- Deuteronomy 29:15, 21 (2 times), 22, 23, 24, 26, 27 (2 times), 30:5, 9, 16, 18, 20.
- Deuteronomy 29:17, 18 (2 times), 30:2, 6 (3 times), 10, 14, 17.
- For more on inner-Biblical interpretation, see, e.g., Benjamin D. Sommer. “Inner-biblical Interpretation.” In The Jewish Study Bible. Edited by Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler, pages 1829–35. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. ISBN 0-19-529751-2.
- Babylonian Talmud Avodah Zarah 19b. Babylonia, 6th century. Reprinted in, e.g., Talmud Bavli. Elucidated by Avrohom Neuberger, Nesanel Kasnett, Zev Meisels, and Dovid Kamenetsky; edited by Yisroel Simcha Schorr and Chaim Malinowitz, volume 52, page 19b2. Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 2001. ISBN 1-57819-625-3.
- Babylonian Talmud Yevamot 79a.
- Babylonian Talmud Gittin 23b. Reprinted in, e.g., Talmud Bavli. Elucidated by Yitchok Isbee, Nesanel Kasnett, Israel Schneider, Avrohom Berman, and Mordechai Kuber; edited by Hersh Goldwurm, volume 34, pages 23b1–2 and note 12. Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 1993. ISBN 1-57819-640-X.
- Babylonian Talmud Nedarim 25a, Shevuot 29a, 39a.
- Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 146a.
- Tosefta Sotah 7:5. Land of Israel, circa 300 CE. Reprinted in, e.g., The Tosefta: Translated from the Hebrew, with a New Introduction. Translated by Jacob Neusner, volume 1, page 862. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 2002. ISBN 1-56563-642-2.
- Midrash Tanhuma Nitzavim 3. 6th–7th century. Reprinted in, e.g., Metsudah Midrash Tanchuma. Translated and annotated by Avraham Davis; edited by Yaakov Y.H. Pupko, volume 8 (Devorim), page 295. Monsey, New York: Eastern Book Press, 2006.
- Exodus Rabbah 28:6. 10th century. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Exodus. Translated by S.M. Lehrman, volume 3, pages 335–36. London: Soncino Press, 1939. ISBN 0-900689-38-2.
- Pirke De-Rabbi Eliezer, chapter 41. Early 9th century. Reprinted in, e.g., Pirke de Rabbi Eliezer. Translated and annotated by Gerald Friedlander, pages 324–25. London, 1916. Reprinted New York: Hermon Press, 1970. ISBN 0-87203-183-7.
- Ecclesiastes Rabbah 1:36.
- Ecclesiastes 1:16.
- Ecclesiastes 1:16.
- 1 Kings 3:9.
- 2 Kings 5:26.
- 1 Samuel 17:32.
- Ezekiel 22:14.
- Psalm 16:9.
- Lamentations 2:18.
- Isaiah 40:2.
- Deuteronomy 15:10.
- Exodus 9:12.
- Deuteronomy 20:3.
- Genesis 6:6.
- Deuteronomy 28:67.
- Psalm 51:19.
- Deuteronomy 8:14.
- Jeremiah 5:23.
- 1 Kings 12:33.
- Psalm 45:2.
- Proverbs 19:21.
- Psalm 21:3.
- Proverbs 7:25.
- Numbers 15:39.
- Genesis 18:5.
- Genesis 31:20.
- Leviticus 26:41.
- Genesis 34:3.
- Isaiah 21:4.
- 1 Samuel 4:13.
- Song of Songs 5:2.
- Deuteronomy 6:5.
- Leviticus 19:17.
- Proverbs 23:17.
- Jeremiah 17:10.
- Joel 2:13.
- Psalm 49:4.
- Jeremiah 20:9.
- Ezekiel 36:26.
- 2 Kings 23:25.
- Deuteronomy 19:6.
- 1 Samuel 25:37.
- Joshua 7:5.
- Deuteronomy 6:6.
- Jeremiah 32:40.
- Psalm 111:1.
- Proverbs 6:25.
- Proverbs 28:14.
- Judges 16:25.
- Proverbs 12:20.
- 1 Samuel 1:13.
- Jeremiah 22:17.
- Proverbs 3:3.
- Proverbs 6:18.
- Proverbs 10:8.
- Obadiah 1:3.
- Proverbs 16:1.
- 2 Chronicles 25:19.
- Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 76b.
- Jerusalem Talmud Kilayim 81a.
- Babylonian Talmud Yoma 54a.
- Mishnah Sanhedrin 10:3. Land of Israel, circa 200 CE. Reprinted in, e.g., The Mishnah: A New Translation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, page 605. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988. ISBN 0-300-05022-4. Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 110b.
- Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 43b.
- Mekhilta de-Rabbi Ishmael Bahodesh 5. Land of Israel, late 4th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., Mekhilta According to Rabbi Ishmael 51:1:3. Translated by Jacob Neusner, volume 2, page 66. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1988. ISBN 1-55540-237-2. Mekhilta de-Rabbi Ishmael. Translated by Jacob Z. Lauterbach, volume 2, page 314. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1933, reissued 2004. ISBN 0-8276-0678-8.
- Numbers Rabbah 3:13. With regard to Elijah, see also Avot of Rabbi Natan. Chapter 34. Circa 700–900 CE. Reprinted in, e.g., The Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan. Translated by Judah Goldin, 139. New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1955. ISBN 0-300-00497-4. The Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan: An Analytical Translation and Explanation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, page 205. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1986. ISBN 1-55540-073-6.
- Avot of Rabbi Natan chapter 34. Reprinted in, e.g., The Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan. Translated by Judah Goldin, pages 138–39. See also The Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan: An Analytical Translation and Explanation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, pages 204–05.
- Numbers Rabbah 7:10.
- Babylonian Talmud Megillah 29a.
- Jerusalem Talmud Sheviit 42b–43a.
- Deuteronomy Rabbah 8:3. Land of Israel, 9th century. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Deuteronomy. Translated by H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, volume 7, pages 149–50. London: Soncino Press, 1939. ISBN 0-900689-38-2.
- Deuteronomy Rabbah 8:2. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Deuteronomy. Translated by H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, volume 7, pages 148–49.
- Babylonian Talmud Temurah 16a.
- Babylonian Talmud Bava Metzia 59b.
- Babylonian Talmud Eruvin 54b–55a.
- Deuteronomy Rabbah 8:6. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Deuteronomy. Translated by H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, volume 7, page 153.
- Deuteronomy 5:27; 6:25; 8:1; 11:8, 22; 15:5; 19:9; 27:1; and 31:5.
- Deuteronomy Rabbah 8:4. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Deuteronomy. Translated by H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, volume 7, page 150.
- Deuteronomy Rabbah 8:4. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Deuteronomy. Translated by H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, volume 7, pages 150–51.
- Deuteronomy Rabbah 8:7. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Deuteronomy. Translated by H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, volume 7, page 155.
- Babylonian Talmud Eruvin 54a.
- Babylonian Talmud Berakhot 40a.
- Deuteronomy Rabbah 4:3. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Deuteronomy. Translated by H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, volume 7, page 91.
- Sifre to Deuteronomy 53:1:1. Land of Israel, circa 250–350 CE. Reprinted in, e.g., Sifre to Deuteronomy: An Analytical Translation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, volume 1, page 175. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1987. ISBN 1-55540-145-7.
- Jerusalem Talmud Peah 5b.
- Babylonian Talmud Berakhot 55a.
- Babylonian Talmud Berakhot 61b.
- Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 13a–b.
- Maimonides. Mishneh Torah: Hilchot Teshuvah (The Laws of Repentance), chapter 5, halachah 1. Egypt, circa 1170–1180. Reprinted in, e.g., Mishneh Torah: Hilchot Teshuvah: The Laws of Repentance. Translated by Eliyahu Touger, volume 4, pages 114–17. New York: Moznaim Publishing, 1990. ISBN 0940118-48-9.
- Maimonides. Mishneh Torah: Hilchot Teshuvah (The Laws of Repentance), chapter 5, halachah 2. Reprinted in, e.g., Mishneh Torah: Hilchot Teshuvah: The Laws of Repentance. Translated by Eliyahu Touger, volume 4, pages 116–21.
- Maimonides. Mishneh Torah: Hilchot Teshuvah (The Laws of Repentance), chapter 5, halachah 3. Reprinted in, e.g., Mishneh Torah: Hilchot Teshuvah: The Laws of Repentance. Translated by Eliyahu Touger, volume 4, pages 120–23.
- Maimonides. Mishneh Torah: Hilchot Teshuvah (The Laws of Repentance), chapter 5, halachah 4. Reprinted in, e.g., Mishneh Torah: Hilchot Teshuvah: The Laws of Repentance. Translated by Eliyahu Touger, volume 4, pages 122–29.
- Maimonides. Mishneh Torah: Hilchot Teshuvah (The Laws of Repentance), chapter 5, halachah 5. Reprinted in, e.g., Mishneh Torah: Hilchot Teshuvah: The Laws of Repentance. Translated by Eliyahu Touger, volume 4, pages 128–35.
- Maimonides. Mishneh Torah. Cairo, Egypt, 1170–1180. Reprinted in Maimonides. The Commandments: Sefer Ha-Mitzvoth of Maimonides. Translated by Charles B. Chavel. London: Soncino Press, 1967. ISBN 0-900689-71-4. Sefer HaHinnuch: The Book of [Mitzvah] Education. Translated by Charles Wengrov, volume 5, pages 430–33. Jerusalem: Feldheim Publishers, 1988. ISBN 0-87306-497-6.
- Nachmanides. Commentary on the Torah. 13th century. Reprinted in Ramban (Nachmanides): Commentary on the Torah. Translated by Charles B. Chavel, pages 340, 342–43. New York: Shilo Publishing, 1976.
- Siddur Sim Shalom for Shabbat and Festivals, page 29. New York: The Rabbinical Assembly, 2007. ISBN 0-916219-13-5.
- Isaiah 61:10.
- Isaiah 61:11.
- Isaiah 62:1–2.
- Isaiah 62:3–5.
- Isaiah 62:6–7.
- Isaiah 62:8–9.
- Isaiah 62:10–11.
- Isaiah 62:12.
- Isaiah 63:1–2.
- Isaiah 63:3–4.
- Isaiah 63:5–6.
- Isaiah 63:7.
- Isaiah 63:8.
- Isaiah 63:9.
- Isaiah 61:10; 62:1, 11; 63:5.
- Isaiah 62:12; 63:4, 9.
- Isaiah 63:7 (2 times).
- Isaiah 63:7.
The parashah has parallels or is discussed in these sources:
- Joshua 9:21, 27 (hewers of wood and drawers of water).
- Psalms 11:6 (God punishing the wicked); 14:1 (fool who “in his heart” imagines escaping God); 27:1 (God as life-giver); 52:7 (God rooting out evil); 66:9 (God as life-giver); 74:1 (God’s anger); 79:5 (God’s jealousy as fire); 106:45 (God will return); 126:1–4 (God restores); 147:2 (God gathers exiles).
- Mishnah: Sanhedrin 10:3; Makkot 3:14. Land of Israel, circa 200 CE. Reprinted in, e.g., The Mishnah: A New Translation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, pages 605, 619. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988. ISBN 0-300-05022-4.
- Tosefta: Sotah 7:3–5; Avodah Zarah 6:13. Land of Israel, circa 300 CE. Reprinted in, e.g., The Tosefta: Translated from the Hebrew, with a New Introduction. Translated by Jacob Neusner, volume 1, pages 861–62; volume 2, page 1285. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 2002. ISBN 1-56563-642-2.
- Sifre to Deuteronomy 304:1–305:3. Land of Israel, circa 250–350 CE. Reprinted in, e.g., Sifre to Deuteronomy: An Analytical Translation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, volume 2, pages 289–294. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1987. ISBN 1-55540-145-7.
- Jerusalem Talmud: Peah 5b; Kilayim 81a; Sheviit 42b; Beitzah 25a; Taanit 29a; Moed Katan 12a. Land of Israel, circa 400 CE. Reprinted in, e.g., Talmud Yerushalmi. Edited by Chaim Malinowitz, Yisroel Simcha Schorr, and Mordechai Marcus, volumes 3, 5, 6b, 23, 25, 28. Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 2006–2014.
- Babylonian Talmud: Berakhot 55a, 61b; Shabbat 13a, 146a; Eruvin 54a–55a; Pesachim 49b; Yoma 54a; Sukkah 46b; Megillah 29a; Yevamot 79a, 82b; Ketubot 111b; Nedarim 25a, 62a; Gittin 23b; Kiddushin 40a; Bava Metzia 59b; Sanhedrin 43b, 76b, 99b, 110b; Makkot 22b; Shevuot 29a, 39a; Avodah Zarah 51b; Arakhin 32b; Temurah 16a; Niddah 46b. Babylonia, 6th century. Reprinted in, e.g., Talmud Bavli. Edited by Yisroel Simcha Schorr, Chaim Malinowitz, and Mordechai Marcus, 72 volumes. Brooklyn: Mesorah Pubs., 2006.
- Deuteronomy Rabbah 4:3; 8:1–7. Land of Israel, 9th century. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Deuteronomy. Translated by H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, pages 91, 147–55. London: Soncino Press, 1939. ISBN 0-900689-38-2.
- Rashi. Commentary. Deuteronomy 29–30. Troyes, France, late 11th century. Reprinted in, e.g., Rashi. The Torah: With Rashi’s Commentary Translated, Annotated, and Elucidated. Translated and annotated by Yisrael Isser Zvi Herczeg, volume 5, pages 303–18. Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 1997. ISBN 0-89906-030-7.
- Rashbam. Commentary on the Torah. Troyes, early 12th century. Reprinted in, e.g., Rashbam’s Commentary on Deuteronomy: An Annotated Translation. Edited and translated by Martin I. Lockshin, pages 165–67. Providence, Rhode Island: Brown Judaic Studies, 2004. ISBN 1-930675-19-4.
- Judah Halevi. Kuzari. 2:34. Toledo, Spain, 1130–1140. Reprinted in, e.g., Jehuda Halevi. Kuzari: An Argument for the Faith of Israel. Introduction by Henry Slonimsky, page 108. New York: Schocken, 1964. ISBN 0-8052-0075-4.
- Abraham ibn Ezra. Commentary on the Torah. Mid-12th century. Reprinted in, e.g., Ibn Ezra's Commentary on the Pentateuch: Deuteronomy (Devarim). Translated and annotated by H. Norman Strickman and Arthur M. Silver, volume 5, pages 212–23. New York: Menorah Publishing Company, 2001. ISBN 0-932232-10-8.
- Maimonides. Mishneh Torah: Hilchot Yesodei HaTorah (The Laws that Are the Foundations of the Torah), chapter 7, halachah 7; chapter 9, halachah 1. Egypt, circa 1170–1180. Reprinted in, e.g., Mishneh Torah: Hilchot Yesodei HaTorah: The Laws [which Are] the Foundations of the Torah. Translated by Eliyahu Touger, volume 1, pages 258–62, 270–74. New York: Moznaim Publishing, 1989. ISBN 0940118-48-6.
- Hezekiah ben Manoah. Hizkuni. France, circa 1240. Reprinted in, e.g., Chizkiyahu ben Manoach. Chizkuni: Torah Commentary. Translated and annotated by Eliyahu Munk, volume 4, pages 1192–97. Jerusalem: Ktav Publishers, 2013. ISBN 1602-802-612.
- Nachmanides. Commentary on the Torah. Jerusalem, circa 1270. Reprinted in, e.g., Ramban (Nachmanides): Commentary on the Torah: Deuteronomy. Translated by Charles B. Chavel, volume 5, pages 331–43. New York: Shilo Publishing House, 1976. ISBN 0-88328-010-8.
- Zohar volume 1, pages 1b, 23a, 91a, 92a, 108a, 120b, 157a, 168a, 173a, 222b; volume 2, pages 3a, 9a, 17a, 62a, 82a, 83b, 86b, 174b, 188b; volume 3, pages 86a, 159a, 270a. Spain, late 13th century. Reprinted in, e.g., The Zohar. Translated by Harry Sperling and Maurice Simon. 5 volumes. London: Soncino Press, 1934.
- Bahya ben Asher. Commentary on the Torah. Spain, early 14th century. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbeinu Bachya: Torah Commentary by Rabbi Bachya ben Asher. Translated and annotated by Eliyahu Munk, volume 7, pages 2717–54. Jerusalem: Lambda Publishers, 2003. ISBN 965-7108-45-4.
- Isaac ben Moses Arama. Akedat Yizhak (The Binding of Isaac). Late 15th century. Reprinted in, e.g., Yitzchak Arama. Akeydat Yitzchak: Commentary of Rabbi Yitzchak Arama on the Torah. Translated and condensed by Eliyahu Munk, volume 2, pages 893–912. New York, Lambda Publishers, 2001. ISBN 965-7108-30-6.
- Obadiah ben Jacob Sforno. Commentary on the Torah. Venice, 1567. Reprinted in, e.g., Sforno: Commentary on the Torah. Translation and explanatory notes by Raphael Pelcovitz, pages 974–83. Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 1997. ISBN 0-89906-268-7.
- Moshe Alshich. Commentary on the Torah. Safed, circa 1593. Reprinted in, e.g., Moshe Alshich. Midrash of Rabbi Moshe Alshich on the Torah. Translated and annotated by Eliyahu Munk, volume 3, pages 1112–21. New York, Lambda Publishers, 2000. ISBN 965-7108-13-6.
- Thomas Hobbes. Leviathan, 3:36. England, 1651. Reprint edited by C. B. Macpherson, page 456. Harmondsworth, England: Penguin Classics, 1982. ISBN 0-14-043195-0.
- Chaim ibn Attar. Ohr ha-Chaim. Venice, 1742. Reprinted in Chayim ben Attar. Or Hachayim: Commentary on the Torah. Translated by Eliyahu Munk, volume 5, pages 1968–81. Brooklyn: Lambda Publishers, 1999. ISBN 965-7108-12-8.
- Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137 (1803).
- Samson Raphael Hirsch. Horeb: A Philosophy of Jewish Laws and Observances. Translated by Isidore Grunfeld, pages 20, 369–74, 385–91. London: Soncino Press, 1962. Reprinted 2002 ISBN 0-900689-40-4. Originally published as Horeb, Versuche über Jissroel’s Pflichten in der Zerstreuung. Germany, 1837.
- Samuel David Luzzatto (Shadal). Commentary on the Torah. Padua, 1871. Reprinted in, e.g., Samuel David Luzzatto. Torah Commentary. Translated and annotated by Eliyahu Munk, volume 4, pages 1262–66. New York: Lambda Publishers, 2012. ISBN 965-524-067-2.
- Yehudah Aryeh Leib Alter. Sefat Emet. Góra Kalwaria (Ger), Poland, before 1906. Excerpted in The Language of Truth: The Torah Commentary of Sefat Emet. Translated and interpreted by Arthur Green, pages 329–32. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1998. ISBN 0-8276-0650-8. Reprinted 2012. ISBN 0-8276-0946-9.
- Abraham Isaac Kook. The Lights of Penitence, 17:2. 1925. Reprinted in Abraham Isaac Kook: the Lights of Penitence, the Moral Principles, Lights of Holiness, Essays, Letters, and Poems. Translated by Ben Zion Bokser, page 127. Mahwah, N.J.: Paulist Press 1978. ISBN 0-8091-2159-X.
- Martin Buber. On the Bible: Eighteen studies, pages 80–92. New York: Schocken Books, 1968.
- F. Charles Fensham. “Salt as Curse in the Old Testament and the Ancient Near East.” Biblical Archaeologist, volume 25 (number 2) (May 1962): pages 48–50.
- Lawrence H. Schiffman. “The New Halakhic Letter (4QMMT) and the Origins of the Dead Sea Sect.” Biblical Archaeologist, volume 53 (number 2) (June 1990): pages 64–73.
- Bernhard W. Anderson. “‘Subdue the Earth’: What Does It Mean? Humans received a God-given freedom to choose between a lifestyle that fosters life on this planet or that leads to death for the earth and its inhabitants. In the words of Deuteronomy 30:19: ‘Choose life so that you and your descendants may live.’” Bible Review, volume 8 (number 5) (October 1992).
- Judith S. Antonelli. “Canaanites and the Covenant.” In In the Image of God: A Feminist Commentary on the Torah, pages 482–88. Northvale, New Jersey: Jason Aronson, 1995. ISBN 1-56821-438-3.
- Jeffrey H. Tigay. The JPS Torah Commentary: Deuteronomy: The Traditional Hebrew Text with the New JPS Translation, pages 277–88. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1996. ISBN 0-8276-0330-4.
- Sorel Goldberg Loeb and Barbara Binder Kadden. Teaching Torah: A Treasury of Insights and Activities, pages 335–39. Denver: A.R.E. Publishing, 1997. ISBN 0-86705-041-1.
- Adin Steinsaltz. Simple Words: Thinking About What Really Matters in Life, page 84. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1999. ISBN 0-684-84642-X.
- Miriam Carey Berkowitz. “Women and the Covenant.” In The Women's Torah Commentary: New Insights from Women Rabbis on the 54 Weekly Torah Portions. Edited by Elyse Goldstein, pages 377–83. Woodstock, Vermont: Jewish Lights Publishing, 2000. ISBN 1-58023-076-8.
- Alan Lew. This Is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared: The Days of Awe as a Journey of Transformation, pages 65, 82–85, 152–54, 164. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 2003. ISBN 0-316-73908-1.
- Joseph Telushkin. The Ten Commandments of Character: Essential Advice for Living an Honorable, Ethical, Honest Life, page 13. New York: Bell Tower, 2003. ISBN 1-4000-4509-6.
- Bernard M. Levinson. “Deuteronomy.” In The Jewish Study Bible. Edited by Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler, pages 433–37. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. ISBN 0-19-529751-2.
- Nathaniel Philbrick. Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War, page 292. New York: Viking Penguin, 2006. ISBN 0-670-03760-5.
- W. Gunther Plaut. The Torah: A Modern Commentary: Revised Edition. Revised edition edited by David E.S. Stern, pages 1372–85. New York: Union for Reform Judaism, 2006. ISBN 0-8074-0883-2.
- Suzanne A. Brody. “The Covenant.” In Dancing in the White Spaces: The Yearly Torah Cycle and More Poems, page 109. Shelbyville, Kentucky: Wasteland Press, 2007. ISBN 1-60047-112-9.
- The Torah: A Women's Commentary. Edited by Tamara Cohn Eskenazi and Andrea L. Weiss, pages 1217–34. New York: URJ Press, 2008. ISBN 0-8074-1081-0.
- Shmuel Herzfeld. “Returning Together.” In Fifty-Four Pick Up: Fifteen-Minute Inspirational Torah Lessons, pages 290–93. Jerusalem: Gefen Publishing House, 2012. ISBN 978-965-229-558-3.
- Janice Weizman. “Beyond Belief: The notion of literature as a witness that cannot be denied testifies to the fact that generations of Jews have believed what is found there.” The Jerusalem Report, volume 24 (number 11) (September 9, 2013: page 43.