“And this is the blessing”
VeZot HaBrachah, “And this is the blessing,” is the 54th and final weekly Torah portion in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading and the 11th and last in the Book of Deuteronomy. It constitutes Deuteronomy 33:1–34:12.
On Simchat Torah festival (“Rejoicing of the Torah”), we conclude and begin the annual Torah-reading cycle. We read the Torah section of VeZot HaBrachah, Mosheh’ farewell blessings for the twelve tribes of Israel before his death. “And Moses the servant of God died there in the Land of Moav by the mouth of God… and no man knows his burial place to this day.” The parashah ends with the death of Mosheh and the conclusion that “There arose not a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom God knew face to face… and in all the mighty hand and the great awesome things which Moses did before the eyes of all Israel.”
Mosheh, the one through whom God delivered His people from Egyptian slavery, for all of his blessings, was not allowed to enter the Promised Land. God allowed Mosheh, before he died at Mount Nevo, to view the Promised Land “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, ‘I will assign it to your offspring.’ I have let you see it with your own eyes, but you shall not cross there.”(Deuteronomy 34:4). After Moses death his body was buried by the G-d in a special place no one would be able to find.
Immediately after reading Parashah VeZot HaBerachah, we also start reading the beginning of the Torah, Genesis 1:1–2:3 (the beginning of Parashah Beresheet), as the second Torah reading for Simchat Torah.
How does the reading of such a sad event, Mosheh’s death, fit into the most joyous occasion?
When a baby is born, we are happy. When a person dies, we cry. In Kohelet King Shlomo said: ”The day of death is better than the day of birth.” On the day of Mosheh’s death his righteousness was known to all, achieving the purpose for which he was brought to the world.
The Torah teaches us to be kind. At the beginning of the Torah we are told that God was kind to Adam and Chavah, He made clothes for them. The Torah ends with another chesed (kindness) God buried Mosheh. Kindness may come in many forms; from clothing and feeding the poor, visiting the sick, comforting mourners, to burying the dead.
Being kind means Having or showing a friendly, generous, sympathetic, or warm hearted nature. My we all be inspired to be kind to ourselves, and to one another.
Chazak Chazak Venitchazek, a custom that happens only five times a year, when reading the Torah in synagogues. At the end of reading each of the five books of the Torah, the congregation says the following sentence: “Chazak Chazak V’nitchazek”, which literally means “Be strong, be strong and let us strengthen one another.”