Parashat Vezot Ha-Beruachah: Deuteronomy 33:1 to 34:12

Week of 10/6/23

As we conclude the yearly cycle of Torah readings, and celebrate Simchat Torah this Shabbat, we focus on the last chapter of Deuteronomy. The text begins with Moses’ blessing and his farewell to the tribes of Israel. He blesses each of the tribes, and notes that the “Torah is the heritage of the congregation of Jacob,” meaning that the instructions of the Torah are constitution for the future Jewish people. Moses emphasizes God’s protective power, and the special providence that the Almighty has bestowed upon the Israelite tribes.  The blessings bestowed on the tribes are very different from the blessings that father Jacob gave to his twelve sons at the end of Genesis. 

After this tumultuous farewell, Moses ascends Mt. Nebo, not far from Jericho, and takes a final glance at the land of Israel. He dies there and is buried in the land of Moab. After thirty days of mourning, Joshua takes over the leadership of the nascent people. The conclusion of our text is that there never arose again a prophet like Moses, whom God singled out, face to face.

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