17 Shvat 5779 / Wednesday, January 23, 2019 | Torah Reading: Yitro
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Parshat Vezot HaBerachah    

Parshat Vezot HaBerachah

The Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret Torah readings are from Vayikra 22-23, Bamidbar 29, and Devarim 14-16. These readings detail the laws...


Vezot HaBerachah
(Devarim: 33:1-34:12)
The Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret Torah readings are from Vayikra 22-23, Bamidbar 29, and Devarim 14-16. These readings detail the laws of the moadim or "appointed times" on the Jewish calendar for festive celebration of our bond with God; including the mitzvot of dwelling in the sukkah (branch-covered hut) and taking the "Four Kinds" on the festival of Sukkot; the offerings brought in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem on Sukkot, and the obligation to journey to the Holy Temple to "to see and be seen before the face of God" on the three annual pilgrimage festivals -- Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot.
On Simchat Torah ("Rejoicing of the Torah") we conclude, and begin anew, the annual Torah-reading cycle. First we read the Torah section of Vezot Haberachah, which recounts the blessings that Moshe (Moses) gave to each of the twelve tribes of Israel before his death. Echoing   Yaakov’s (Jacob's) blessings to his twelve sons five generations earlier, Moses assigns and empowers each tribe with its individual role within the community of Israel.
Vezot Haberachah then relates how Moshe ascended Mount Nebo from whose summit he saw the Promised Land. "And Moses the servant of God died there in the Land of Moab by the mouth of God... and no man knows his burial place to this day." The Torah concludes by attesting that "There arose not a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom God knew face to face... and in all the mighty hand and the great awesome things which Moshe did before the eyes of all Israel."
Immediately after concluding the Torah, we begin it anew by reading the first chapter of Bereshit (the beginning of next Shabbat's Torah reading) describing God's creation of the world in six days and His ceasing work on the seventh--which He sanctified and blessed as a day of rest.

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