Parashat Nitzavim - Deuteronomy 29:9[10]-30:20

The Hidden And The Revealed

This week’s Torah portion is a continuation of Moses’ adjuration to the Children of Israel to faithfully obey the instructions the LORD has given them in the form of the commandments. The Children of Israel are about to renew their covenant with the LORD before entering into the Promised Land. In the midst of this, Moses tells them:

The hidden [things] belong to the LORD our God, but the [things that are] revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this Torah. (Deuteronomy 29:28 [29])

Most commentators understand this passage to be speaking about various types of sins. The “hidden” are the types of sins in a person’s life that were done unwittingly, and have not been revealed to him yet. According to this interpretation, a person is not responsible for those sins. They are the LORD’s responsibility, as the Psalmist states, “Who can discern his errors? Cleanse me from hidden faults” (Psalm 19:13). Obvious sins—“revealed” ones—however, we are personally responsible for. We will be held accountable for these sins.

However, I would like to suggest an alternate interpretation. What are the hidden and the revealed? What if they are the responsibilities of the two beings that support and sustain the world: the responsibility of God and the responsibility of man? Maybe we should think of the hidden things as the under workings of Creation, the hidden components of physical existence. As we know, these are entirely in the hands of Hashem. We have no control over them. But the revealed things are something entirely different. These are the things that place the world’s existence into our own hands. According to Simeon the Righteous, there are three components of our responsibility to insure against the collapse of the world:

He used to say, “On three things the world stands: on the Torah, on the (Temple) Service, and on acts of lovingkindness.” (Avot 1:2)

Since we are living in a non-Temple period, we need to understand Temple Service as fixed times of daily prayer. Since the priests cannot currently perform their services in the Holy Temple, the responsibility has shifted to us. We must render the “bulls of our lips” (Hosea 14:2) in place of the lambs that were offered twice daily in the House of the LORD. Daily prayer is our service to the LORD.

Therefore, these three elements that support the world are 1) the study of Torah, 2) fixed times of daily prayer, and 3) acts of lovingkindness. These are the three components that undergird the existence of our world. Currently, however, each of these three spiritual components is deficient to its own degree. One day, however, this world will be perfected and returned to the ideal state. In that day the Torah, the Temple Service and acts of lovingkindness will be returned to their proper proportions and Messiah Yeshua will reign over the earth from Jerusalem. 

Until that time it is our duty to make sure each of these three elements are sustained, rather than relying on others for their endurance. To work towards this ideal, every follower of Yeshua should be engaged in daily Torah study, fixed times of daily prayer and acts of kindness as our minimum devotion to our Master. We can’t do anything about the hidden, but we can definitely do something about the revealed. Will you help support the world today?