Chag Sameach, the end of the Torah cycle is approaching yet again, this Shabbat’s reading is the last one in the Torah, as Moshe passes away and Joshua becomes leader and takes the Jews in to Eretz Yisrael. The Majority of the Parsha talks about how Moshe blesses the Tribes prior his death. Moshe wished as his final act to bless the Jews. He had started the book of Devarim with reproof, and he also rebuked the Jews in the song of Ha’azinu.
The Later prophets and sages learned from Moshe that they should conclude their speeches, with words of comfort and blessing for the people. The Torah states that Moshe was a ‘man of G-d.’ This title was given to him only after he blessed the Jews, since one who defends and praises the Jewish people is elevated by Hashem (Chronicles I 23:14).
Moshe started the blessings by describing the Jews greatness; he describes how G-d revealed himself at Har (Mount) Sinai to give the Torah. Matan (Giving of) Torah also highlights the greatness of the Jews, for all generations, since only they were willing to accept the treasured Torah, and therefore are worthy of the blessings (Devarim 33:2-5).
Reuven, as the first born, was given the first blessing, ‘May Reuven live and not die, and may his men be counted among the tribes, (Devarim 33:6)’ was the blessing Moshe proclaimed on Reuven, to a certain level it was referred to the tribes founder. Moshe blessed Reuven that his transgression involving Bilha (when he moved his fathers bed out of his tent with Bilha’s into his mothers tent, Leah, (Megillah 25a)) not be held against him in the future since Reuven had repented the mistake. We learn from Reuven the importance of repentance and how one can clean the slate if they are truly sorry about their past misdeeds. Ultimatly, Reuven admitted his role in the story with Bilhah, and was not embarrassed, and so he merited entry into the world to come, and his children took the first share of land in Israel (Sotah 7b).
Yehuda was the next tribe to be blessed (Shimon’s blessing was included in Yehuda’s), Yehuda was a natural born leader, King David and the Davidic Dynasty came from this tribe, and it possessed the crown of kingship. Nachshom Ben Aminadav, a descendant of the tribe of Yehuda, was the first man to dive in to the water, which split the sea as the Jews left Egypt (as learned in Parshat Beshalach), this characteristic of leadership and responsibility reflected on the whole tribe (Devarim 33:7).
The next tribe to be blessed was, Laivi, Moshe praised the tribesmen of Laivi who were chosen to perform G-d’s service in the Mishkan and Beit Hamikdash (Devarim 33:8-11).
Following Laivi’s blessing was the tribe Benyamin, the first King, Shaul, was to descend from Benyamin, the tribe founder was the youngest son of Rachel (Devarim 33:12). Yosef (Rachel’s oldest son) was awarded the next blessing (Devarim 33:13-17), Moshe blessed Yosaif’s portion of land to yield more delicious produce than any other plot of land. The leader after Moshe died, Yehoshua (Joshua), led the Jews in to the land of Israel and was in charge of the country for twenty eight years, he did a magnificent job, eradicating the thirty one kings of Cannan, and won numerous wars. He died at the age of 110 years.
The Tribes, Zevulan and Yissachar were given the next blessings, they formed a partnership, where the tribe of Zevulin would be the merchants working hard at sea in business, they would support the tribe of Yissacher, with some of the profits they had made in business, while the Tribe of Yissacher would be learning Torah throughout the day, a partnership which is seen in this day and age also (Devarim 33:18-19).
The final four blessings were given to the tribes of Gad, Dan, Naftali and Asher respectively (Devarim 20-25). All twelve tribes provided different qualities to the Jewish nation, when the tribes were united; they elevated Hashem's divine presence amongst the Jewish nation.
The Haftorah for this weeks reading comes from Chapter 1 of the book of Joshua, literally a chronological continuation of this weeks reading. It shows hows G-d encouraged Joshua to seize the leadership and be fully confident for the Jews to triumph as they were to enter in to the Holy land (Joshua 1:1-18).
Hope you all have a fantastic Chag and Shabbat, This Dvar Torah is in memory of Benyamin Ben Mordechai, who sadly passed away in a car accident six and a half years ago, it would have been his 31st birthday today! Please do good acts of kindness in his memory.