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.
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 — is that special time of bonding and expressions of love — Am Yisrael for our Father, our Creator, our eternal and universal King who sooo treasures the B’nei Yisrael that after Hoshana Rabbah and sealing the fate of the nations in the coming year, that 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 — exemplifiying Hashem’s special and loving connection to Am Yisrael alone.
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 as we dance seven Hakafot with Sifrei Torah, 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’zot HaBracha 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’zot” 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’zot” 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)
This author excerpts from Rabbi Goldin’s Parsha Summary, in his Sefer, “Unlocking the Torah Text” (page 351) :
The last Parsha of the Torah, V’zot HaBracha, opens as Moshe turns to the nation for a final farewell. After bestowing a short collective blessing on the people as a whole, he proceeds to bless the Shevatim individually. He then closes with another short collective blessing.
This year’s vort will discuss Moshe’s epilogue, his concluding collective blessing to Klal Yisrael which follows his individual Brachot to each Shevet:
“May your borders be sealed like iron and copper, and like the days of your prime, so may your old age be. There is none like Hashem, Oh Y’shurun; He rides across Heaven to help you, and in Hts majesty through the upper heights. That is the abode of Hashem immemorial, and below are the world’s mighty ones: He drove the enemy away from before you, and He said, ‘Destroy!’ Thus Israel shall dwell secure, solitary, in the likeness of Yaakov, in a land of grain and wine; even his heavens shall drip with dew. Fortunate are you. Oh Yisrael: Who is like you! Oh people delivered by Hashem, the Shield of your help, Who is the Sword of your grandeur; your foes will try to deceive you, but you will trample the haughty ones.” (Defer Devarim, Perek 33, posukim 25-29 as rendered to English in the Artscroll Stone Chumash)
The Artscroll Stone Chumash now discusses Moshe’s concluding Bracha to the collective Klal Yisrael (pages 1120 – 1121) :
According to Rashi and Sforno, Moshe addressed the following blessing to the nation as a whole, According to the Ibn Ezra, Ramban and Daas Zekeinim, this verse [Posuk 25: “May your borders be sealed like iron and copper… so may your old age be.”) This verse is a continuation of Asher’s blessing (“…The most blessed of children is Asher; he shall be pleasing to his brothers, and dip his feet in oil.” — posuk 24 as rendered to English in the Artscroll Stone Chumash]
[Additional Rashi understandings of Posuk 25] “May your borders [locks — Sapirstein Edition, Torah With Rashi Commentary, Sefer Devarim, page 394] be sealed like iron and copper” — …Their mighty warriors of each tribe shall live in the border towns of that tribes territory so that the enemies should not be able to enter it. Alternatively [ibid, page 394], your land is locked with mountains from which they mine iron and copper.
[Posuk 26] “Oh Y’shurun” — Moshe told his people that when they conduct themselves in the upright manner implied by the name Y’shurun: Hashem will ride across Heaven to help them, but not if they act sinfully. (Artscroll Stone Chumash citing Sifrei)
R’ Hirsch explains: Nothing can compare to the manner in which Hashem will manifest Himself if Klal Yisrael remain true to their calling of Y’shurun; if they remain straight and upright, pursuing their life in undeviating loyalty to their duty.
[Posuk 27] “The abode of Hashem immemorial… the world’s mighty ones” In continuation of the previous posuk, this posuk states that even though Hashem’s abode is in the highest Heavens, far above that of any of the spiritual beings, the world’s mighty leaders on earth must tremble at their insignificance compared to Hashem. In Moshe’s time, this referred to such awesome kings as [Pharaoh or Balak,] Sichon and Og (Artscroll Stone Chumash citing Rashi), but throughout history the same is true… the leaders of the world — no matter how invincible they seemed to be at the height of their power — are shackled to the earth, and cannot go against His will;
[Posuk 28] “Solitary” — Since, as promised in the previous verse, the enemy would be driven out, there would be no need for the Jews to band together and live in large groups for fear of invasion. Rather, everyone would dwell individually “each under his vine and under his fig tree” (Artscroll Stone Chumash citing Rashi).
[Posuk 29] “Fortunate” — Israel is unique. Hashem bestowed upon it that eminence that all other nations achieve only by the sword. “You will trample the haughty ones.” [literally, you will tread on their high places] i.e. you will triumph over them as it says: (Artscroll Stone Chumash citing Yehoshua 10:24) “Put your feet on the necks of these kings.” (Artscroll Stone Chumash citing Rashi) This figure of speech… also denotes the triumphant and undisputed possession of the Land — even its high mountains and haughty leaders.
The word Bawmoteimo [transliteration]. “their high places,” symbolizes the highest moral and intellectual level of a nation. Accordingly, Moshe was telling his people that when the Jews set standards for the nations, they should begin at the “high places” of the nations — and go from there to even higher levels of conduct. (Artscroll Stone Chumash citing R’ Shimon Schwab).
B’Ezrat Hashem that we should be worthy to merit Moshe Rabbeinu’s final Bracha to us as a people, as a nation.
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, that the thrice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes and the oft-destroyed Yeshiva buildings in Homesh be rebuilt, all at total government expense; due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. Baruch Hashem that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard is now in his second year at home in Eretz Yisrael. May Esther Yocheved bat Yechiel Avraham have an aliyah in Shemayim and may her spirit and memory continue to lift Jonathan to at least 120 years. 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 eight 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 5783 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.