Weekly Bible Reading for August 29-September 4: Nitzavim (You Are Standing)

This coming week, August 29-September 4 2021 (21-27 Elul), the Bible reading plan covers the following portions.

Nitzavim (You Are Standing)

29 Aug Deuteronomy 29:10-12 Hosea 9:1-11:12 1 Peter 2:1-25 Psalm 131:1-3
30 Aug Deuteronomy 29:13-15 Hosea 12:1-14:9 1 Peter 3:1-22 Psalm 132:1-10
31 Aug Deuteronomy 29:16-29 Joel 1:1-2:11 1 Peter 4:1-19 Psalm 132:11-18
01 Sep Deuteronomy 30:1-6 Joel 2:12-3:21 1 Peter 5:1-14 Psalm 133:1-3
02 Sep Deuteronomy 30:7-10 Amos 1:1-3:15 2 Peter 1:1-21 Psalm 134:1-3
03 Sep Deuteronomy 30:11-14 Amos 4:1-5:27 2 Peter 2:1-22 Psalm 135:1-21
04 Sep Deuteronomy 30:15-20 Isaiah 61:10-63:9 2 Peter 3:1-18 Psalm 136:1-26

The complete annual Bible reading plan for 2020-21 (Hebrew year 5781) is available at this link:

Fox Byte 5775 #51: Nitzavim (You Are Standing)

נִצָּבִים

Famous literary figures with identity issues. Top row: Oedipus Rex (Bénigne Gagneraux, The Blind Oedipus Commending his Children to the Gods), Beauty’s Beast (illustration by Walter Crane), The Frog Prince (illustration by Paul Meyerheim), Rapunzel’s prince (illustration by Johnny Gruelle). Bottom row: Hansel and Gretel (illustration by Arthur Rackham), Sleeping Beauty (illustration from Childhood’s Favorites and Fairy Stories), Snow White (illustration by Alexander Zick), Cinderella (illustration by Anne Anderson).
Famous literary figures with identity issues. Top row: Oedipus RexBeauty’s BeastThe Frog Prince, Rapunzel’s prince. Bottom row: Hansel and Gretel, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Cinderella.

The worst fate a person can endure?  That would be loss of self.  It is not the same as selflessness, a desirable state of humility which YHVH honors.  Loss of self means removal of what defines a person as a person.  We see this in loved ones who slip slowly away through the ravages of progressive dementia.  Little by little they forget who they are until in the end there is nothing left of them but the memory carried in the hearts of those who once knew them.  It is a tragedy as old as humanity. 

Some of our best stories spring from this loss of identity.  Nearly 2,500 years ago Sophocles dramatized this phenomenon in Oedipus the King, a tale of a man whose birth was accompanied by a prophecy that he would kill his father and marry his mother.  The parents attempt to circumvent the prophecy by ordering the infant slain, but to no avail.  Oedipus is saved and brought up by foster parents, completely ignorant of his identity.  Eventually he fulfills the prophecy.  When at last the secret of his identity is revealed, his mother commits suicide and Oedipus puts out his own eyes.

This motif of hidden identity and forgotten knowledge manifests not merely in classic Greek drama, but in every literary form.  It appears even in fairy tales, where protagonists like Beauty’s Beast and the Frog Prince lose their humanity.  Rapunzel’s prince retains his identity, but he wanders in blindness.  Similarly, Hansel and Gretel lose their way in the forest despite their best efforts.  Princesses also succumb to identity loss, as we learn from Sleeping Beauty and Snow White.  Even Cinderella’s true station in life is a mystery to her prince.

The fairy tales generally have happy endings, or at least the Disney renditions make them so, but that is not the case in every tale of this sort.  One might say this identity issue is a perpetual human condition.  We make it worse by ignoring our history, severing the connection with our fathers and mothers of ages past.  This ignorance, whether self-inflicted or imposed by other forces, is the foundation of George Santayana’s famous warning, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”.  It is also a reflection of prophetic truth uttered by two men of God in the 8th century BCE:

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.  Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest.  Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.  (Hosea 4:6 NASB)

Therefore My people go into exile for their lack of knowledge; and their honorable men are famished, and their multitude is parched with thirst.  (Isaiah 5:13 NASB)

Please click here to continue reading