Parasha Nitzavim and Parasha Vayelech are read together this week.
Moses continues his final address to the Israelites before they enter the Promised Land. This parasha includes a fundamental premise of Judaism – The idea that Torah is accessible to all. Moses speaks to the entire community, from the elders to the children and from the tribal officials to the menial laborers, when he says, “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?’ … No, the thing is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to observe it.” (Deut. 30:11-14)
In this parasha, Moses prepares for his death as he tells the people, “I am now one hundred and twenty years old, I can no longer be active. Moreover, the Eternal has said to me, ‘You shall not go across yonder Jordan.’ “
Moses transfers his leadership role to Joshua and enjoins the Levites to safely keep the scroll upon which God’s teachings are written. The scroll is to be kept in the Ark of the Covenant and read to the assembled people every seven years on the Festival of Sukkot. The parasha concludes with God’s warning that if the people break the Covenant once they are in the Promised Land, God will be angered and will turn away from them. God instructs Moses to write a poem to the people which Moses will recite in next week’s parasha.