Parashat Nitzavim begins with two verses enumerating the ten levels of Jewish souls that comprise the entire Jewish people. From the most important tribal leaders to the simplest water carriers, these ten levels correspond to the ten sefirot. Five levels are mentioned in the first verse and five in the second. Sefer Yetzirah, the earliest Kabbalistic text, describes the sefirot as “five facing five” (חָמֵשׁ כְּנֶגֶד חָמֵשׁ), like the ten fingers of our two hands, or the Ten Commandments on the two tablets of stone. [Of particular interest to us as Rosh Hashanah 5773 approaches is that the numerical value of the phrase “five facing five” (חָמֵשׁ כְּנֶגֶד חָמֵשׁ) is 773 (תשעג).]
The final level, the water carriers, corresponds to the sefirah of kingdom whose inner motivation is lowliness. Individuals who truly sense their lowliness have the greatest potential for revealing an innately royal essence and assuming positions of true leadership. This is why the Ba’al Shem Tov, founder of the Chassidic movement, particularly loved the simplest Jews and taught that redemption will come in their merit.
Our parashah’s name, which literally means “standing” (נִצָּבִים), precedes the enumeration of the ten levels. It too relates to the sefirah of kingdom because a king “stands” (נִצָּב). Thus, as we stand before God, all Jews are kings, or sons of kings. In fact, the initial and end letters of the root “to stand” (נצב) form the word “son” (בֵּן) and the middle letter (צ) equals 90, the numerical value of “king” (מֶלֶךְ).
The essence of Rosh Hashanah is reaccepting God’s reign over us. Normally, people imagine that kings rule by force. But, a righteous Jewish king must receive his mandate from the people. The Torah requires the people to be willing to nullify themselves before the prospective king, willingly accepting his sovereignty without any coercion on the king’s part, all in order to arouse the king’s essential majesty. Similarly, Chassidut teaches us that the secret of blowing the shofar on Rosh Hashanah is to arouse God’s essential majesty, thus reviving His will to be King over us.
Reawakening God’s desire to rule, as it were, is the Jewish people’s unique task, given us because every Jewish soul is a part of God Above. The point of contact between the Jewish soul and the Almighty is one of innate nullification. Once we reach this inner point in ourselves, we no longer require any conscious act of submission in order to surrender to God’s rule. By revealing this point within our souls, the Almighty’s essential majesty is aroused.
Similarly, the true Jewish king is aware of his existential lowliness, yet simultaneously reflects God’s essential majesty. This inherent dichotomy is expressed in King David’s statement, “I am a worm and not a man” (וְאָנֹכִי תּוֹלַעַת וְלֹא אִישׁ). The word “I am” (אָנֹכִי), when expressed by someone who has not rectified his self, is the epitome of egotism, yet in this statement, King David uses it to totally dehumanize himself in absolute selflessness. However contradictory it may seem, the true point of majesty that is inherent in every Jew cannot be reflected unless we reach the innate point of nullification in our souls.
Our service on Rosh Hashanah in hearing the call of the shofar is to connect to the innate point of nullification where our soul is totally annulled to God’s sovereignty and by doing so, to arouse His essential majesty to rule over us through Mashiach, His appointed king.