Closing Time: V’Zote Ha’Bracha 2018

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: Do you think great people are appreciated more during life or after death? Should it be the other way around?

On Simhat Torah morning, we read of the death of Moses, who is briefly eulogized in the Torah’s final three verses:

The Pitch: “Never again did there arise in Israel a prophet like Moses — whom the Lord singled out, face to face, for the various signs and portents that the Lord sent him to display in the land of Egypt and his whole country, and for all the great might and awesome power that Moses displayed before all Israel.” – Deuteronomy 34:10-12

Swing #1: “The end of Deuteronomy is punctuated by the sixfold repetition of ‘all’. Moses is incomparable in all signs and wonders against Pharaoh and all his servants in all his land, as well as all the great might and all awesome power displayed before all Israel. The legacy of Moses is timeless.” – J. Edward Owens, Deuteronomy

Swing #2: “Moses’ prophecy and the miracles he performed were known throughout the civilized world in his time.” – Rabbeinu Bahya

Swing #3: “Whenever Moses and Aaron performed miracles they were certain beforehand that their efforts would be crowned with success, since God had communicated the miracle to be performed.” – Akeidat Yitzhak

Late-Inning Questions: To what extent do our commentators attribute Moses’ accomplishments to God, and to what extent do they seem to think they are a credit to the man himself? To what extent is our personal success dependent on others? Do you think Moses is evaluated fairly at the end of his life?

On-Deck at Emanu-El: The Torah ends on a sad note, but when we celebrate Simhat Torah, our spirits are lifted when we return to the reading of Genesis just moments later! So join us Monday, October 1st at 6:00PM for Happy Hour, then services, dancing with the Torah, and fun book-themed trivia. The revelry continues the next morning at 9:30AM with more dancing and fun surprises!

The Big Inning at the End: Speaking of tributes after a famous person’s death, a sportswriter named Charles Dryden once conflated the life of George Washington with the hapless Washington Senators by writing “Washington: First in war, first in peace, last in the American League.”

Shabbat Shalom!