Our Simchat Torah vort is being sponsored by Simon and Aliza Baum and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh who dedicate this vort Lilui Nishmas in honor of Simon’s Mother: Chaya Miriam Bas Boruch. To the Baum family, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.
You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring (or as the case may be, co-sponsoring) a Parshat HaShevua.
Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.
On Succot, the B’nei Yisrael, as an Am Segula (a nation apart and unique from the other nations), as Hashem’s special, chosen people; we visit, bond, and celebrate our special and unique relationship with HaKodosh Borchu. This author expresses the hope and prayer that our ingathering during Succot not be impaired due to the corona pandemic variants plaguing Israel and the Jews of the world.
We learn that Sh’mini Atzeres is expressed with a perspective as if one’s entire family, from various venues, are all together and savoring the love, bonding and enjoyment of being together — between each of the parents and their off-spring, the siblings with each other and with their parent(s), as well as families with their friends and with their kehillot. And so when it comes time for the branches of the families, as well as maybe out-of-town friends, to leave to return to their various venues and responsibilities, the elder parent pleads that the offspring, that the family, the guests and all assembled stay together for one more day. And so Hashem Kovei’yokhel (as He is) Calls to His loved ones — the B’nei Yisrael, whereever they reside, to stay with Him for one more day.
We learn that in Eretz Yisrael, there is one day of Succot Yom Tov, five Chol HaMo’ed days and Hoshana Rabbah and, Simchat Torah — the last day of Yom Tov which contains within it the attribute of Sh’mini Atzeres — that special time of bonding and expressions of love — Am Yisrael for our Father, our Creator, our eternal and universal King, and Hashem’s special and loving connection to Am Yisrael alone.
Hashem sooo treasures the B’nei Yisrael that after Hoshana Rabbah and sealing the fate of the nations in the coming year, He, so to speak, wants to bask in the love and joy of being with and bonding only with B’nei Yisrael — that attribute of Sh’mini Atzeres.
And so, on Simchat Torah, we follow the leyning of V’zos HaBracha and the leyning of the seven days of Breish’t in a spirit of bonding with Hashem that is the last day of Yom Tov. And when we make our home in Hashem’s special, designated Land — Eretz Yisrael, the joy of Simchat Torah increases countless-fold for we are with Him in His Very Palace.
It is in the context of Simchat Torah, with its attribute of Sh’mini Atzeres — the bonding of Am Yisrael with our Creator and Eternal King, that Moshe, following the tradition which began with Yaakov just before his passing, gave individual Brachot to each of the Shevatim (tribes) of B’nei Yisrael as conveyed in Parshat V’zos HaBrachot.
The Artscroll Stone Chumash translates the opening posuk of V’zos HaBrachot and summarizes the theme of Moshe’s Brachot to the Shevatim (pages 1112-1113):
“And this is the blessing that Moshe, the man of G’d, bestowed upon the B’nei Yisrael before his death.” (Sefer Devarim, Perek 33, posuk 1)
These final words of Moshe are a combination of blessing and prophesy, in which he blesses [the] tribe[s] [individually] according to its national responsibilities and individual greatness.
“And this is”…. “V’zos” implies that Moshe’s blessings were a continuation of Yaakov’s [as if to say that the Tribes were blessed at the beginning of their national existence and again as they were to begin life in Eretz Yisrael]. Moshe also used the word “V’zos” when he began his summation of the Torah (Sefer Devarim, Perek 4, posuk 44 in Parshat Va’etchanon) which symbolizes that Israel’s way to achieve the blessings of its Patriarch and Teacher is by studying and observing the Torah.
Moshe praised Hashem and recalled the merit that makes Israel worthy of his blessing.
In these introductory remarks, Moshe incorporated three outstanding merits of Israel: a) Hashem dwells among them; b) They accepted His Torah; and c) They acknowledged His sovereignty. (Ramban)
In keeping with the understanding of “V’zos”: “And this,” Moshe’s apparent continuation of Yaakov Avinu’s Brachot, this year’s vort reflects the parallels between Moshe’s Brachot and Yaakov’s centuries earlier Brachot regarding Shevatim (Tribes) Yissachar and Zevulin. This parallel is especially meaningful to this author regarding his Kehillah, Beit Tefillah Yona Avraham, a Kehillah of diversity with the context of Torah unity. Many of the Kehillah work in various fields — medical, dentistry, hi-tech, as well as those whose days are filled with learning. The shul also hosts a Kollel. The shul is bustling throughout the day with many shiurim and chaverusas, and at night, those who work at their professions by day, come together as one for diverse learning — from Chalvos Halvolvos, Daf Yomi, Daf HaShavua, the Rav’s Halacha and Parsha shiurim as well as shiurim dedicated to whatever season and Yomim Tovim that are in the offing. Beyond learning, there is the bonding and the help and assistance given one toward the other. Truly in the spirit of Yissachar Zevulun.
For Context regarding the Yissachar Zevulin duo:
When Hashem formed the system of formation of the B’nei Yisrael during travel and encampments, the east side of the formation was occupied by Sh’vatim Yehuda, Yissachar, Zevulun. The Yissachar, Zevulun relationship is a paradigm of this cooperation and collective unity. We learn that, unlike the formation of all of the other tribes where Hashem used the conjunction “and”, Yissachar, Zevulun were not preceded by or split by “and.” We see in this relationship between the two tribes the sharing between the wealth of Zevulun’s merchants which provided the basis for the scholarship of Shevet Yissachar. For this reason, Shevet Zevulun is not preceded by the conjunction “and” so as to not accord it secondary status. Torah stresses that the contributions of Zevulun are considered every bit as important as those of Yissachar. (Sefer L’lmode Ul’lamed on Parsha Bamidbar, pages 131-132; Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 2, posukim 1-9 vs Perek 2, posukim 10-34).
Rabbi Goldin, in his Sefer, “Unlocking the Torah Text,” highlights the likeness of the Brachot of Yaakov and Moshe to the Yissachar Zevulin duo (Sefer Devarim, page 375):
Yaakov: “Zevulun shall dwell by the seashores, and he shall be a shore for ships… Yissachar is a strong-boned donkey, crouching between the sheepfolds. He saw a resting place that it was good and the land that it was pleasant, and he bowed his shoulder to bear and became an indentured servant.” (Rabbi Goldin citing Sefer Breish’t, Perek 49, posukim 13-15; Artscroll Stone Chumash on posukim 14-15 notes: [Yissachar] “strong-boned donkey,” a view expressed by one sage in the Midrash and followed by several commentators. Rashi favors the traditional Rabbinic interpretation that this reflects Yissachar’s spiritual role as bearer of the yoke of Torah and cultivator of the spiritual treasures of the people.)
Moshe: “And to Zevulin, he said, ‘Rejoice, Zevulun, in your going out, and Yissachar, in your tents. The tribes will assemble at the mountain; there they will offer righteous offerings, for by the riches of the sea they will be nourished, and [by] the hidden treasures of the sand.” (Rabbi Goldin citing Sefer Devarim, Perek 33, posukim 18-19; Artscroll Stone Chumash on posukim 18-19 notes: Although Yissachar was older, Zevulun is mentioned first [by Moshe] because it was he who make Yissachar’s Torah study possible.)
One major difference between the words of Yaakov and Moshe… emerge[s] with the passage of centuries. Yaakov bestows individual brachot on each of the tribes. Moshe includes them both in one bracha.
While Yaakov stops at recognizing the disparate character of these tribes, Moshe moves to forge an essential partnership between them.
Rabbi Goldin concludes (ibid, page 377):
By blessing the tribes of Zevulun and Yissachar with the wisdom to partner, Moshe emphasizes the critical role that internal partnerships can play in strengthening the nation as a whole. The careful forging of such partnerships continues to be a challenge that communities of Jews face to this day.
May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them and that the thrice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes, at government expense; both due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. Baruch Hashem that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard is now free of his parole and restrictions and that he and his ill wife Esther Yocheved bat Rayzl Bracha are finally home in Eretz Yisrael. May the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem — as with the return in April, 2019, via Russia, of the remains of Zachariah Baumel, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of seven years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and prevent Chas V’Challila the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. And may we soon and finally see the total end to the Communist Chinese corona virus pandemic and all like viruses. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nei Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!
L’Shana Tova, Chag Same’ach! — may all who read this enjoy a healthy, happy, sweet and prosperous 5782 and every year thereafter to at least 120!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.