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Weekly D'rash and Parsha V'Zot HaBerachah and Simchat Torah

People rejoicing around Torah scroll for Simchat Torah

This week’s Torah portion concludes the traditional yearly Torah reading cycle. It contains the last words of Moses to Israel and then the description of his death. The final speech of Moses is reminiscent of the final words of Jacob in Genesis 49. It contains a prophetic word for each of the tribes. Overall, it is a little less detailed than Jacob’s final words, but makes the point about the continuity of the nation after Moses’ death.

Moses appears as a father figure speaking to his children. He assures them that even though he will no longer be with them, they will continue as the unique nation whom God has called. He begins with a reminder of the events at Mt. Sinai (Deut 33:1–5). For Moses, the appearance of God at the mountain and the receiving of the words of Torah are the unifying historical event that binds the children of Israel together with one calling of being a holy nation before God. Moses says that it is here that “God became King in Jeshurun.” Moses assures the people that the kingship of God continues even though he will die. Following the individual blessings on each tribe, Moses concludes with a great word of encouragement to the people (Deut. 33:26–29). Throughout Deuteronomy, there has been a warning of chastisement for rebellion and disobedience. However, at the end, Moses assures them that they are a blessed people with a special calling.

This understanding has been the primary reason why Jewish people can endure persecution and remain faithful to God. How important this is for all of us. In Messiah Yeshua we all come under the kingship of the God of Israel. We all have a calling to be witnesses of the truth of the God of Israel and Messiah Yeshua to humanity. Persecution comes with the territory, but let us never forget that we are a blessed people with a fantastic destiny.

The Haftarah portion for this week comes from the first chapter of Joshua. We read in Joshua 1:5, “No one shall be able to resist you as long as you live. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you.” At the end of the Gospel of Matthew, Yeshua says, “I will be with you always even to the end of the age (Matt. 28:20). As we end one year and begin another, may we be resolute and full of confidence that keeps us moving forward in our lives—knowing that God is our King and our future is bound up with him!

Please join us this Sunday, October 8th, at 10:45am at Beth Messiah as we roll our Torah Scrolls back to the beginning and read the beginning of Genesis. Simchat Torah is a day of great joy as we celebrate the gift of Torah!

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Howard

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