There are two main themes portrayed in this Parsha, new beginnings and choices. In Nitzavim – Vayelech, the Parsha begins with God re-establishing his covenant with the Jewish people. He tells them if they chose to leave and worship other gods, Hashem will erase their name from the holy books. Later in the Parsha, Moshe is preparing for his death, and is told that Yehoshua will be taking his place. Moshe begs Hashem for his life and says “even if I could live as Yehoshua’s servant” which Hashem rejects. Moshe continues pleading with God and asks “what if I stay alive as a fish or bird” but Hashem accepts none of these offers. A question on is raised on this part of the Parsha. Why was Yehoshua chosen as a leader rather than one of Moshe’s or Ahron’s sons? Rashi explains that Yehoshua was careful, slow to act, and a good judge. In short he was the ideal leader. In most cases a leader or hero is born into greatness or loyalty. In this case the Torah is showing us that you don’t need to be born into greatness and anyone can become a leader no matter the circumstance as long as they make themselves great. “If you want to be something, do something”.
After Moshe sees Eretz Yisrael and is reassured with the leadership of Yehoshua, he accepts God’s will regarding his death. He then turns to B’nei Yisrael and tells them “I have put before you the choice of life or death, blessing or curse, choose life” showing the people their ability of free choice, and telling them to consider which path to take in this new beginning. This Parsha is always read on the Shabbat before Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the New Year. This Parsha is teaching us that we are being given a new beginning with Rosh Hashannah, and we must choose what path we want to take. Whether we want change or not, it’s the decision of life or death. Whether you want to better yourself or not, chose life.