This week’s Torah portion is Nitzavim, and it contains a passage that many Jewish congregations will chant on Yom Kippur later this month.  There are a lot of beautiful passages in Torah, but this might just be one of the most moving, the most personal, the most hope filled.
Like many sections of Deuteronomy, this chapter vacillates between blessings and curses. It is as if Moses and God are uncertain, uncertain of how to push the Children of Israel in the right direction. They want so badly to nudge, encourage, sometimes frighten us to be the people they imagine us to be. But it is so hard to get people to do what you want. No matter how hard you try or what you say, people insist on following their own path. Even if it’s going the wrong way.
After the curses of Nitzavim, the Torah gives us hope, tells us that God will circumcise our hearts and the hearts of our children so that we will love God with all our heart and soul.
A few chapters earlier we are told to circumcise our own hearts, to cut away the thickness around our hearts and expose the tenderness within. But here God does it for us. And then it gets even better. God teaches:

“Surely, this Instruction which I enjoin upon you this day is not too baffling for you, nor is it beyond reach. It is not in the heavens, that you should say, “Who among us can go up to the heavens and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it?” Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who among us can cross to the other side of the sea and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it?” No, the thing is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to observe it.”  Deut. 30:11-14

In other words, God slices our hearts open so that God’s commandments can make their way inside. No nudging, encouraging, or frightening us. Just opening us up. Making room for God within. I find this so beautiful and so encouraging. I don’t need to travel the world, seek out a guru, climb mountains or search valleys. I just need to look within.

So what part do we play in this? Our role is to keep our hearts open, to not shut ourselves off when the Divine reaches out (or rather, in).

And those who don’t believe in God? The task is just as hard and just as important. And in many ways, identical. Remaining open to possibility and to truth, to beauty and to uncertainty. To everything that life has to offer until we reach the end of our time.