Rabbi Andrew Shaw
Chief Executive, Mizrachi UK
It struck me this year like never before.
I was holding the tallit over the bimah as the Chatan Torah was called up and the last 15 pesukim of the Torah were lained for the one and only time in the year.
The baal koreh lained beautifully, with passion and feeling and as he read the final chapter of the Torah I was very moved – the words themselves are just magnificent.
And Moshe went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, [to the] top of the summit facing Jericho. And the Lord showed him all the Land: The Gilead until Dan. And all [the land of] Naftali, and the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, until the western sea, and the south, and the plain, the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, until Zoar.
And the Lord said to him, “This is the Land I swore to Avraham, to Yitzchak, and to Yaacov, saying, ‘I will give it to your offspring.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not cross over there.”
And Moshe, the servant of the Lord, died there, in the land of Moab, by the mouth of the Lord. And He buried him in the valley, in the land of Moab, opposite Bet Pe’or. And no person knows the place of his burial, unto this day.
Moshe was one hundred and twenty years old when he died. His eye had not dimmed, nor had he lost his [natural] freshness. And the sons of Israel wept for Moshe in the plains of Moab for thirty days, and the days of weeping over the mourning for Moshe came to an end.
And Yehoshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, because Moshe had laid his hands upon him. And the children of Israel obeyed him, and they did as the Lord had commanded Moshe.
And there was no other prophet who arose in Israel like Moshe, whom the Lord knew face to face, as manifested by all the signs and wonders, which the Lord had sent him to perform in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and all his servants, and to all his land, and all the strong hand, and all the great awe, which Moshe performed before the eyes of all Israel. (Devarim 34)
It speaks about the end of an era, of the death of the greatest man who ever lived.
How he lived like no other man ever lived, with a connection to Hashem that was unparalleled. And how he died like no other man, by the kiss of God and buried by the Almighty.
You can feel the heartache of Moshe as he is shown the entire land that he has brought the nation to the cusp of, but can never enter.
You can feel the love of Hashem for his ultimate servant.
And we end with the future of the next generation in the hands of Yehoshua – Moshe’s disciple.
We lain it, and within a few minutes it is forgotten – we move on to Bereishit – we begin again.
There is no time – one of the most poignant, powerful and memorable pieces of Torah, we don’t stop and reflect, we have to keep going, after the end comes the beginning, the circle of Torah.
I think there is a powerful message contained in this idea.
Sometimes even if there is no time – we need to make time.
When some things are that important, that seminal, that meaningful – even if there seems to be no time we need to make time.
The chagim season is behind us, but it allows us to focus our time on the areas that really matter.
Hashem, Torah, Family, Community.
With Bereishit, the next stage of the Jewish year is upon us, no breaks for chagim. It is five months until Pesach, regular life returns – there isn’t the time anymore – we have to just keep moving.
Yet just like the end of the Torah should linger and inspire us as we begin the cycle again, so too, those holy moments of Tishrei can continue to permeate and uplift us as we enter the spiritual challenges of Mar Cheshvan and beyond. A fuel to power us through the winter.
That is the legacy of Moshe Rabbenu – how he lived, how he died and how he continues to live in all of us who are part of the ongoing story of Bnei Yisrael.