Photo of Rabbi Ettedgui

Simchat Torah 5776 (October 6th, 2015)

On Simchat Torah this Tuesday morning, we will be reading the last portion of the Torah called "Vezot Habracha" and we will begin again the cycle of Torah Reading from the Book of Bereshit.

The last verses of Bereshit describe the passing of our father Jacob in Egypt, and the huge funeral procession that accompanied his body back to Israel, consisting of his children and many Egyptian dignitaries. Before Jacob dies he calls all his children and blesses each one of them.

The last Book of the Torah, Devarim, also ends with a blessing; hence, the name "Vezot Habracha" - "This is the blessing". It describes the blessing with which Moses blessed each tribe, and the last verses of the Torah describe the death of Moses. Unlike the huge funeral that accompanied Jacob, Moses goes up alone to Mount Nebo, where he dies, and to this day, no one knows where his burial place is.

Jacob is one of the Patriarchs of our people. We are his descendants. We know where he is buried. He is buried in the Land of Israel. To this day, we are still fighting to claim that land.

Moses, on the other hand, was our teacher. The forty years he led us and taught us took place in the wilderness. The Torah he taught us kept us together, even as we were dispersed to the four corners of the world.

Both leaders, Jacob and Moses, blessed us before they died. Our attachment to Torah and Eretz Yisrael today is a living testimony that their blessings were fulfilled and continue to strengthen us from generation to generation.

Go to Shul this Simchat Torah and be strengthened as we say "Hazak, Hazak Venithazak" - "Be strong, be strong and let us strengthen one another" upon completing Devarim and immediately starting over from Bereshit.

Shabbat Shalom and Hag Sameach,