Return of the King: V’Zote Ha’Bracha 2019

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: Do you believe in a God that has absolute authority over us? Or is your idea of God more limited?

The last Torah portion of the year is read on Simhat Torah, and in it, Moses speaks of God’s sovereignty on Earth:

The Pitch: “Then He became King in Jeshurun, when the heads of the people assembled, the tribes of Israel together.” – Deuteronomy 33:5

Swing #1: “The Jewish people … has the Law of the Torah as its eternal heritage, no matter what system of government a future Jewish state may adopt. No matter who will reign over that state – be it a ‘king in Jeshurun’ in an absolute monarchy, or the ‘heads of the people’ in a parliamentary democracy, or ‘the tribes of Israel together’ in a republic – the Torah will remain the law of the Jewish state forever.” – Joseph Dov Halevi Soloveitchik

Swing #2: “A different tactic for dealing with the meaning of Jacob’s name was in changing it so as to convey the opposite of ‘deceit’ and ‘cheating’. This explains the creation of Jacob’s other name, Yeshurun, in which we hear the element of yashar, ‘honest’.” – Avigdor Shinan & Yair Zakovitch, From Gods to Gods: How the Bible Debunked, Suppressed, or Changed Ancient Myths & Legends

Swing #3: “When the Jewish people are truly united and relate to one another as true brothers, then God is truly King over them. When they quarrel among themselves then God cannot truly be seen as being their King.” – Da’at Zkeinim

Late-Inning Questions: How would our commentators describe God’s power based on the words of this verse? Does God exercise this power based on ability alone, or also based on the Israelites’ willingness to accept God? How often is someone’s power based on what other people will allow? And how often is it based on sheer force of will?

On-Deck at Emanu-El: The Fall holidays conclude with a bang! Our Simhat Torah celebration is always a blast, and this year, we’ll be unraveling an entire scroll and giving others the opportunity to stand next to the Torah portion that was read the week of their birth. Join us Monday night beginning at 6:00PM for food and crazy fun!

The Big Inning at the End: Speaking of authority, perhaps the most successful Major League umpire was Bill Klem, whose nickname among players and managers was “God”. It’s hard to imagine today’s umpires, who are subject to second-guessing by endless television replays, having the same kind of respect that Klem had.

Shabbat Shalom and Moadim L’Simha!