Dovie and his father were waiting for the light to turn green at the busy intersection. This was the last street they had to cross before they reached the shul
. "You know, Tatty," Dovie said laughingly as the light changed, "the names of this week's parshiyos
describe our walk to shul
"What do you mean?" asked Dovie's father.
"Well, this week we read the parshiyos Nitzavim and Vayeilech. Nitzavim means 'You are standing', and Vayeilech means 'And he went.' With all the streets we had to cross and the lights we had to wait for, that's exactly what we've been doing - standing and going!"
Dovie's father smiled. "I'm glad you're thinking about the parshah, Dovie. You are right about the words Nitzavim and Vayeilech, but there is much more to their meaning than just to stand and go."
"Actually, Tatty, I was going to ask you about that," said Dovie. "We read these parshiyos together, but it seems as if their names are just the opposite of each other. When a person stands, he isn't going anywhere, and when he goes, he's not standing in one place."
"Now that's serious thinking," his father complimented him. "You see, the meaning of Nitzavim is not merely to stand, but rather to stand firmly. A Jew should feel strong about his Yiddishkeit and fulfill the Torah and its mitzvos proudly. Nothing in the world should be able to budge him. Today, tomorrow, next week, and next year, he should continue keeping the Torah.
"We call that consistency. A Jew must be consistent. Every day we must daven, wash before eating, make berachos, say the Shema and more. This is the meaning of Nitzavim - to stand firmly and consistently.
"But standing firmly does not mean standing still. Together with Nitzavim comes Vayeilech, which means 'And he went.' A Jew can never remain standing in one place. He is always moving forward to do more good deeds and better himself.
"Our parshah begins with Vayeilech Moshe - 'And Moshe went.' Moshe Rabbeinu was 120 years old. He knew that this was to be the last day of his life. Even though he was just about to complete a lifetime of holy activity, he was still moving forward, adding more good deeds.
"Nitzavim and Vayeilech are read on the last Shabbos of the year. Keeping the Torah and its mitzvos consistently and continually trying to move forward will bring us a kesivah vachasimah tovah for a good and sweet new year. May this year bear the greatest blessing, the coming of Mashiach."
(Adapted from Sichos Shabbos Parshas Nitzavim-Vayeilech, 5746)