The Gemara in מגילה דף לא ע"ב says that Ezra established that we should read the קללות in Vayikra before Shavuos and the קללות of Devarim before Rosh Hashanah כדי שתכלה שנה וקללותיה. It’s not merely because we finish the torah once a year that the קללות fall out near Rosh Hashanah rather its part of the Takana of Ezra, and even בני מערבא who competed the Torah in three years would read the קללות around Rosh Hashanah being it’s relevant for the time period. However, the way it comes out, Nitzavim falls out between the קללות which are read in כי תבא and Rosh Hashanah. It would seem that it’s close enough to fulfil the request of having the קללות read next to Rosh Hashanah, and having a break of one Shabbos is fine. But Tosfos in Megilah brings from the Beis Medrash of Reb Nissim Gaon that ask why is Nitzavim and Vayelech split up when there are two שבתות before סוכות as opposed מטות ומסעי which are longer in which case it would be possible to have the קללות read the Shabbos right before Rosh Hashanah? Being that it’s seemingly Bdieved to have Nitzavim read in between the קללות and Rosh Hashanah as a result of our schedule, the above solution would seem to be more correct? In general, there is a difference between most double Parshiyos such as Matos and Masei and Nitzavim and Vayelech. Matos and Masei are really two separate Parshiyos which are sometimes read together while Nitzavim and Vayelech which are really one Parshah, just they are broken up sometimes. There are a few proofs to this idea. The Zohar in Parshas Vayakel says that there are ג"ן פרשיות but the way we have it, there are really fifty four. The Chidah writes that Nitzavim and Vayelech are considered on Parshah. In addition, old Chumashim would write ע' פסוקים at the end of Vayelech which is the total for Nitzavim and Vayelech. Also, the טור או"ח תכח writes that the Siman for Vayelech is פתבג המלך. The idea is that when Rosh Hashanah, which is המלך, falls out on Monday and Tuesday (בג), then פת because we are פותתין נצבים וילך. This indicates that really they are one and they need to be split. Lastly, the Chinuch brings the Mitzvah of הקהל in Vayelech even though the Psukim are mentioned in Nitzavim. This makes the question even stronger as to why we split up Nitzavim and Vayelech and not Matos and Masei. There could be a נפק"מ להלכה in regards to whether Nitzavim Vayelech is one Parshah that gets split up or if it’s two separate Parshiyos that are put together. The Halacha is, as said by the Rema in the name of the Ohr Zaruah, that a Tzibbur which misses reading an entire Parshah could make it up the following week. (The question came up because there was a Machlokes in the Shul and it dragged out and they ended up not having enough time to read). However, if the Parshah that was missed was a double Parshah such as Matos Masei, then it can’t be made up because can read three Parshiyos. But if you say that really Nitzavim Vayelech is one Parshah, then even if the Tzibbur missed the week the read Nitzavim Vayelech, they would still be able to make it up the following week, as opposed to if they were considered two separate Parshiyos which are put together.
Tosfos answers the following: לכך נראה לי הטעם שאנו מחלקים אותן לפי שאנו רוצים להפסיק ולקרות שבת אחת קודם ר"ה בפרשה שלא תהא מדברת בקללות כלל שלא להסמיך הקללות לר"ה עכ"ל. It is clear from Tosfos that to have Nitzavim as a break between the קללות and Rosh Hashanah is not בדיעבד rather it’s very much intentional. How could this be explained? The reason to read the קללות before Rosh Hashanah כדי שתכלה השנה וקללותיה is not because we don’t want to read the קללות after Rosh Hashanah, at the start of the New Year. Because if not for this Takana, in מערבא, they would only read the קללות once every three year before Rosh Hashanah. It must be that the reading of the קללות before Rosh Hashanah has a purpose that we specifically want to end the year off with the קללות. The reason is becasuse through the hearing of the קללות, it creates a fear for the judgement that awaits us on Rosh Hashanah. This being the case, how could it be that it is better to have a הפסק between the קללות and Rosh Hashanah if the entire intention of the Takana was to enter into Rosh Hashanah with that fear? The Takana of Ezra was that the קללות were actually read the Shabbos before Rosh Hashanah. The fear of the קללות are necessary, but at the same time there needs to be a feeling of hope. A feeling that we can correct everything we did wrong. The goal of the קללות is not to bring us to a point where we give up and throw in the towel but rather to present us with the harsh realities of life in order that we should correct our ways and enter Rosh Hashanah in that spirit. But it would seem with the ירידות הדורות that the חכמים realized that entering Rosh Hashanah immediately after reading the קללות wouldn’t allow us to observe Rosh Hashanah the way it should be. The later generations couldn’t handle reading the קללות and going straight into Rosh Hashanah. Therefore, they felt we needed a break with a Shabbos between the קללות and Rosh Hashanah in order that we should be able to observe Rosh Hashanah properly with שמחה as the מצות היום requires. The break would allow us to balance the sense of fear that one must have going into Rosh Hashanah but at the same time keep that sense of hope for renewal alive Rashi in the beginning of the Parshah quotes the Medrash that explains why the קללות are next to Nitzavim: ומדרש אגדה למה נסמכה פרשת אתם נצבים לקללות, לפי ששמעו ישראל מאה קללות חסר שתים, חוץ ממ"ט שבתורת כהנים, הוריקו פניהם ואמרו מי יוכל לעמוד באלו, התחיל משה לפייסם אתם נצבים היום, הרבה הכעסתם למקום ולא עשה אתכם כלייה והרי אתם קיימים לפניו(כט,יב) According to this Medrash, Parshas Nitzavim is not a random break rather it is very much connected to the קללות. But it seems to undermine and contradict the idea of the קללות that even though we anger Hashem and error, we are still around and therefore we shouldn’t worry? The answer is that Parshas Nitzavim qualifies the קללות. Only because the Jews were הוריקו פניהם was Hashem מרחם on them. When we reach a point where its לא יוכלו עמוד, then even when we anger Hashem, it will still be אתם נצבים היום. Only someone who is fearless and doesn’t worry from the תוכחה will have to worry about the eventuality of all the קללות. The טור סימן תקפא writes how the Jews on Rosh Hashanah are different than others because Jews on Rosh Hashanah approach their judgement day with confidence, wear white clothing, get haircuts, eat and drink, and celebrate the day like a יום טוב because we are confident that Hashem will perform for us a miracle. The Bach asks if this is the case, then why don’t we wear בגדים מרוקמים וצבעי ארגמ. He answers that too much wouldn’t be good because then it wouldn’t be clear that we are fearful for the day of Judgement and then it’s not בטוח. It’s clear from here that the יראת הדין וחרדת המשפט are the cause for the שמחה on Rosh Hashanah because only then are we confident that Hashem will perform a miracle or us. Just like its only אתם נצבים היום כולכם for those that are פניהם מוריקים ומתייראים שלא יכלו לעמוד. According to all this, having Nitzavim in between the קללות and Rosh Hashanah is not a הפסק which disturbs the Takana of Ezra of having the קללות read before Rosh Hashanah, rather it’s the proper order as Nitzavim qualifies the קללות.