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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

The Final Act

Updated: Sep 21, 2022

Parshat Nitzavim, a short parsha found at the end of the book of Deuteronomy finds the Hebrews standing before Moshe on the day that he will die. Standing there are the wood choppers, the water carriers, the dignitaries, the women, the children. All assemble as the final recitation of the covenant commences. This is Moshe's last chance to speak to his people, to reaffirm the covenant that was first spoken about years before. It is the final act and with these last words, Moshe tells the people that the covenant is not just with them standing at the river, but those who will come long after them. Moshe speaks these words to us now, as we sit here at the synagogue, or at our desks or while we walk. Moshe spoke these words to your grandparents and to your future descendants. We are all there in spirit.

And what is the message? That the instruction is not in the clouds and not across the sea, but close to us. It is a question left for us to ponder as we approach the final act.

The Final Act

It is the final act.

The stage lights are down low.

The music is rising as we await the closing scene.

The script, written so long ago, never grows old.

We know the characters;

their flaws, their vows,

Their voices echo through our heads.

Snippets of what we have learned about them;

Who has enraged us,

what has touched us

and who we have loved.

Our favorite characters never forgotten;

scenes replay in our minds over and over again.

The audience never tires of a story line

not easily defined by critics.

It is time to close the curtain

The audience sits on the edges of their seats

waiting for the closing words.

Back stage, hands grip the ropes;

ready to pull the crimson curtains closed

as the final scene unfolds.

Some weep,

and some search themselves for answers.

As the curtain is closed,

the thunderous applause begins and ends.

The house lights

illuminate our faces,

and we turn toward the exits;

messages still ringing in our ears.

We hear voices from the stage and are surprised.

The lights flash on and off.

We turn back and stare.

The orchestra returns to its seats

the opening chords are heard again.

The lights slowly rise.

We lower ourselves back onto our seats

as the curtains open again.

We are back at scene one of the play that never ends.

The first scene begins with an empty stage and near darkness

and slowly the story unfolds again;

a thousand stories until a dream comes true

between a river and two mountains.

We settle down.

The playbill describes

drama and dreams,

promises and pranks,

villains and heroes

winners and losers

allowed and forbidden,

and above all, among all,

a Creator who is also the writer,

the producer, the director

Behind a curtain The Creator stands,

visible to so few.

We are here to stay

to begin the show again.

It never grows old,

but we do.

With each year that passes

we see the play through different eyes.

The play of the15 year old is not the play of the 35 year old,

and not the play of an 85 year old.

This is a play that is timeless,


ever changing,

but the script remains the same.

The curtain rises,

so settle in for scene one.

This showing is just for this audience.

Soon curtains will soon close,

but then they will open again.

Open, close, open, close.

This year you will see the plot unfold through new eyes,

for the show must go on.

I make this covenant, with its sanctions, not with you alone, but both with those who are standing here with us this day before our God יהוה and with those who are not with us here this day.

וְלֹ֥א אִתְּכֶ֖ם לְבַדְּכֶ֑ם אָנֹכִ֗י כֹּרֵת֙ אֶת־הַבְּרִ֣ית הַזֹּ֔את וְאֶת־הָאָלָ֖ה הַזֹּֽאת׃

כִּי֩ אֶת־אֲשֶׁ֨ר יֶשְׁנ֜וֹ פֹּ֗ה עִמָּ֙נוּ֙ עֹמֵ֣ד הַיּ֔וֹם לִפְנֵ֖י יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֵ֑ינוּ וְאֵ֨ת אֲשֶׁ֥ר אֵינֶ֛נּוּ פֹּ֖ה עִמָּ֥נוּ הַיּֽוֹם׃

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