Simchat Torah 5776


Rabbi Susan Elkodsi

V’zot Habracha is unique because it is never read on Shabbat, only on Simchat Torah. The last parashah in the Torah, v’zot habracha includes Moses’ final blessing to each of the Israelite tribes and the description of Moses’ death. Like Jacob, who gave his blessings to his sons and grandsons before his death, Moses blesses each tribe according to its individual greatness and national responsibilities. These two blessings provide bookends to the years of slavery in Egypt, the going out of Egypt, and the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness that have brought the Israelites, and us by extension, to this point.

Once Moses has blessed God and the Israelites, he ascends Mount Nebo, where God will show him the Land of Israel, the land he would be able to see, but not enter. At the age of 120, Moses dies, and our reading tells us that until his last moment, his eyes never dimmed and his skin never dried.

We often speak of the cycle of life, and our festival of Simchat Torah is a perfect example. We finish reading the Torah, and go back to the beginning and immediately start over. We read of Moses’ death, and the eulogy that ends the book of Devarim. Figuratively rolling the sefer Torah all the way to Bereshit, the beginning, reminds us that life goes on. Creation is a continual process. This becomes apparent on Simchat Torah as we leave the past and look to the future.

Gut Yontif/Chag Sameach.

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