Mic Drop: V’Zote Ha’Bracha 2021

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

(Note: The Torah reading for this Saturday is specific to the holiday of Sukkot, but V’Zote Ha’Bracha, the final Torah portion, is read on Simhat Torah morning, on Wednesday.)

Pre-Game Chatter: If you were Moses at the moment prior to his death, what words would you choose to be you final ones? What lasting impression would you want to leave to the people you had led for 40 years?

Surprisingly or not, here are Moses’s final words:

The Pitch: “O happy Israel! Who is like you, a people delivered by the LORD, your protecting Shield, your Sword triumphant! Your enemies shall come cringing before you, and you shall tread on their backs.” – Deuteronomy 33:29

Swing #1: “[After reciting this verse, Moses] went and blessed them and then lifted up his voice and wept. … He departed from them with great weeping and Israel likewise wept and cried out with a great and bitter cry.” – Petirat Moshe

Swing #2: “After he had recited unto them all these blessings in detail, he said to them, ‘Why should I detail everything to you? Everything is yours.’” – Rashi

Swing #3: “This enables the leaders of the generation to wield the sword of pride, undeservedly exalting themselves over the people. For there are leaders who impose their rabbinic authority and rule ‘over a destitute people,’ undeservedly exalting themselves over the generation. Having been appointed not by Heaven but purely through their own arrogance, they obtain the sword of pride.” – Likutei Moharan

Late-Inning Questions: How do our commentators understand the significance of Moses’s final words? Does it seem like something he would actually say, or is it somewhat out of character? Would you describe Moses’s final words as a “mic drop” moment?

On-Deck at TBT: Mazal Tov to Emily Weed, our Bat Mitzvah who will celebrate with us tomorrow, along with her parents, Robyn and Thomas, her brother Charlie, and the rest of her family. It’s been almost one year since we’ve celebrated a Bar or Bat Mitzvah in our synagogue, and we’re grateful to be able to gather for moments of celebration.

The Big Inning at the End: Speaking of mic-drop moments, it’s fascinating that Jackie Robinson’s autobiography, I Never Had It Made, was released four days after his death in 1972. In it, he describes his disappointment that racism persisted in the game that he helped to integrate. Sadly, almost 50 years later, Robinson’s sentiments still feel relevant to our national discussion.

Shabbat Shalom, and soon, Chag Sameach!