Beit Midrash

  • Torah Portion and Tanach
  • V'zot Habracha
To dedicate this lesson

V’zot Habracha


Rabbi Berel Wein

Moshe’s final words to the Jewish people are words of love and blessing. He sees for them now only goodness and greatness, hope and satisfaction. He has already warned the people of Israel of his dark visions about their future and has advised them of the terrible costs that will be exacted from them in their long exile. But now his thoughts are to the future, to the greatness of the eternal people, to its resilience and stubbornness and to its tenacity. Moshe now, like his Creator, so to speak, will not see evil in Jacob nor will he see crookedness in Israel. Moshe who is the supreme realist nevertheless is determined to impress us that blessings overcome curses and that eventually goodness triumphs over evil and that the future is still within our grasp to improve and succeed. Not only does Moshe give general blessings to all of Israel - something which is relatively painless to do so - but he gives specific and pointed blessings to each tribe of Israel (except for Shimon, but a discussion of that exception warrants a different parsha sheet.) There are general blessings - one size fits all - that exist in our lives, blessings for health, success, prosperity and personal and national security. But there are specific blessings addressed to the circumstances, talents and abilities of each individual. Moshe speaks to this particular need and individual quality. No two tribes are alike and therefore their blessings have to differ. No two people are alike and no two people are therefore entitled to the exact same blessing. Extreme wealth (remember that?) can be a blessing to one person and a curse to someone else. There are many such blessings that have to be tailor made to each individual. Moshe teaches us that lesson in his final blessings to the people of Israel.

Moshe sees the Land of Israel from afar and is not allowed to actually enter its precincts. He envisions all of Jewish destiny until the last day. We are not told of the reaction of Moshe to this revelation of the future. There are times perhaps when one feels more privileged not to know too much regarding the future. I often think of the words of the rabbis that the righteous are taken away before great judgments and disasters strike the people of the Israel, so as not to have to endure the pain of witnessing those events. I therefore think that the Torah purposely does not record for us the reaction of Moshe to seeing all of the Jewish story unfold before him on his last moments on earth. But at least he is aware of the happy ending to the story as well, Israel restored to its land in security and prosperity. And that is the true blessing that he bestows upon his people. His serenity and confidence that all will eventually come right sustains us throughout our difficulties and trials. And his Torah marches with us towards that great day of complete redemption and triumph.
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