November 19, 2018

Rosner’s Torah-Talk: Parashat Nitzavim-Vayelech with Rabi Marc Margolius

Our guest this week is Rabbi Marc Margolius, the spiritual leader of New York City’s West End Synagogue. Prior to his current position, Rabbi Margolius conceived and directed for five years the Legacy Heritage Innovation Project, an initiative supporting systemic educational transformation in congregations across North America, Europe and Israel, and served as Director of Jewish Life and Identity for the Jewish Community Centers of Philadelphia. Between 1989 and 2003 he was the spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Am Israel in Penn Valley, Pennsylvania. Ordained in 1989, at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, Rabbi Margolius graduated from Yale College and Yale Law School. He has long been active in interfaith matters and social justice issues. As a legal services attorney, he specialized in civil rights and poverty law, and served as staff attorney for the Commission on Law and Social Action of the American Jewish Congress, Pennsylvania Region.

This week's Torah portion – Parashat Nitzavim-Vayelech (Deuteronomy 29:9-31:30) – begins with Moses gathering the people of Israel to enter them into a covenant with God. Moses then warns of the great desolation that will befall them if they stray from the covenant, but he assures them that if they repent God will bring them back together again from the ends of the world. The portion continues to talk about free-choice and repentance, and tells of Moses passing on his leadership to Joshua. Our discussion focuses on evolution of Moses as leader as he approaches his death (parallel to our own process approaching Yom Kippur), his increasing acceptance of death as an inevitable aspect of life, and his response, which is to express faith and confidence in the people and the “process” of God's unfolding truth.

If you would like to learn some more about Nitzavim-Vayelech, check out our discussion with Rabbi Richard Block.