Firm and FlexibleSeptember 7, 2020 - 12:00 am
All of you are standing today in the presence of the LORD your God—your leaders and chief men, your elders and officials, and all the other men of Israel … — Deuteronomy 29:10
Each week in synagogue or at home, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is a double portion, Nitzavim-Vayelech, from Deuteronomy 29:9–31:30. Nitzavim means “standing,” and Vayelech means “when he went.”
My husband and I have two different styles when it comes to parenting. I am the soft one, constantly kissing our children, and sometimes I have a hard time saying to no to their requests. My husband focuses more on setting healthy boundaries and educating our kids in a firm, but loving way. Yet, if the situation calls for it, he is able to shift gears and become more flexible instead of being completely rigid. And he has inspired me to balance my yielding nature with the ability to stand firm in my decisions and follow through with tough consequences when necessary.
These two approaches – standing firm and being flexible — apply not only to parenting, but also to how we deal with other people in all areas of our lives. And just as we have learned to balance these two approaches as we raise our children, we need to balance them in all our interactions.
This week, we will read two Torah portions. The first selection is called Nitzavim, which means “standing,” as in: “All of you are standing today …” (Deuteronomy 29:10). The second portion is called Vayelech, which means “and he went, as in: “Then Moses went …” (Deuteronomy 31:1). Nitzavim alludes to the quality of standing firm, while Vayelech represents the ability to move around.
There are times in our lives that we are called to stand firm in our beliefs – unmovable and unshakable. However, we have to be careful not to become overly rigid. There are times that we need to be flexible, yielding, humble, and willing to step aside. Yet, we can never become so relaxed that we no longer take a stand when necessary or maintain appropriate boundaries.
It’s a balancing act.
As we read these two portions this week, let us pray that God gives us the wisdom to know when to be strong and when to bend, when to be assertive and when to compromise. And may we have the strength to assume the right approach in each situation so that we can best serve God and bring glory to His kingdom.
Your turn: Do you tend to be more firm or more flexible with the people in your life? What do you need to do to add more balance to your life?