Parashat V’Zot HaBerachah (And This is the Blessing)
D’varim (Deuteronomy) 33:1-34:12
Haftarah: Joshua 1:1-18
Shabbat Simchat Torah
This Shabbat is a very special Shabbat as the Jewish people around the world will celebrate Simchat Torah, which literally means “Rejoicing of the Torah”. It is a celebration marking the conclusion of the annual cycle of public Torah readings and the beginning of a new cycle. It is a great time of celebration and dancing in synagogues as the Torah scrolls are carried around in seven circuits (hakafot).
The foundation of the entire Bible is the first five books — commonly referred to as the “Torah”. In these five books, we learn about Creation, our history, God’s attributes, His character, and the things that are pleasing to Him, among other things.
While this celebration is not mentioned or commanded in Scripture, but rather comes from tradition, I believe it represents a wonderful thing: a celebration centered around God’s Word. God’s word is a precious gift to humankind; He gave us His Word for us to learn about Him, His character, and His desire for our lives. The only way for us to know any of this is by reading and studying the Word of God.
I have much to rejoice about in my life. I rejoice that I have the great privilege to read and study God’s Word; I rejoice that the Father removed the veil from my eyes through faith in His Son and gave me His Holy Spirit to guide me as His Word became a living presence in my life.
This week’s reading opens with a significant blessing which is mixed with tragedy:
Now this is the blessing with which Moses the man of God blessed the sons of Israel before his death.
The blessing here is that despite the unfaithfulness of the children of Israel, God remained faithful to them and blessed them. However, the tragedy here is that Moses could not lead them into the Promise Land. While it is tragic that he could not physically enter the land, I believe God still blessed him in that Moses was able to see the Land from Mount Nebo:
Now Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. And the LORD showed him all the land, Gilead as far as Dan, and all Naphtali and the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah as far as the western sea, and the Negev and the territory in the Valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar. Then the LORD said to him, “This is the land which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants’; I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not go over there.”
As we continue to read in Deuteronomy 34, we find a great reason to rejoice in the faithfulness of our God in that He entrusted the role of leading Israel to Joshua Ben Nun:
Now Joshua the son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom, because Moses had laid his hands on him; and the sons of Israel listened to him and did as the LORD had commanded Moses.
In our Haftarah we read of the beautiful way that God commissioned Joshua to take the task of bringing Israel into the Land that He promised our forefathers.
Now it came about after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, that the LORD spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ servant, saying, “Moses My servant is dead; so now arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel. Every place on which the sole of your foot steps, I have given it to you, just as I spoke to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon, even as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and as far as the Great Sea toward the setting of the sun will be your territory. No one will be able to oppose you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not desert you nor abandon you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people inheritance of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the Law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may achieve success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will achieve success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not be terrified nor dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
Reading these words fills me with great joy, as I see God’s faithfulness and the continuation of His plan. Indeed, I marvel at the fact that I can sit here in the same Land that was promised to my forefathers, and see the miracle of God’s faithfulness.
The God of the Bible is indeed the same God we worship. If He was faithful then, He is faithful now; you can trust in Him to fulfill all that He has promised. We can rejoice in His faithfulness!
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