V’Zot HaBracha

V’zot HaBracha is the final parasha of the Torah.  It contains Moses’ last words, which are blessings to each of the tribes.  There is also a closing blessing for all of the tribes, in which Moses reminds the tribes of the abundance they are to enjoy and the goodness which God has bestowed upon them.  Moses then ascends Mount Nebo and God shows him the land of Israel.  Moses dies at the age of 120.  His burial place is unknown.  Upon hearing of his death, the Israelites observe a 30 day period of mourning.  

Joshua assumes the leadership position of the Israelites and is faced with the task of entering and conquering the land of Israel.  The parasha, and thus the Torah, closes with the statement that there would never again be a prophet like Moses.

“And this is the blessing, with which Moses, the man of God, blessed the children of Israel before his death” (Deut.  33:1).  Why is Moses called “the man of God”?  The commentator Ibn Ezra states that this title was given to Moses to stress the prophetic origin and force of the words uttered in the parasha; that they did not merely proceed from Moses’ own mouth, but were endowed with Divine authority.  Other commentators take the opposite view, that these words were Moses’ own words, bidding farewell to his people, in contradistinction to the rest of his utterances in the Torah, which were God’s words.

There is a beautiful midrash, an interpretative story, that explains the verse in a way that is appropriate for each of us.  It states that when God came to Moses and told him that the hour of his death was approaching, Moses replied: “Please wait until I bless Israel.  All my life they have had no pleasant experiences with me, for I constantly rebuked them and admonished them to fear God and fulfill the commandments.  I do not wish to leave this world before I have blessed them.”  Anyone can find fault with others.  True greatness is to see the good points of others.

What a great message for each of us to remember every day of our lives.  Have an easy fast.