I was struck today by several thoughts as I listened to the last Torah portion of the year. וזאת הברכה (V'zot Habracha)--"And this is the blessing". Moses, before he takes leave of his people, the Jewish nation, blesses each of the 12 tribes according to its national responsibilities and individual greatness.*
I was struck by the women in this tefillah (prayer) group. These are women who want to express their devotion to G-d and take the initiative to do something about it in a halachically respectful way.
I was struck by the last, and then the first portion of the Torah. After we got to the end, two women rolled the entire scroll back to the first portion (Bereishit-Genesis), which was also partially read. This is the symbolism of our cyclical lives, how the Torah never ends, it just goes on year to year, generation to generation. Long after we are all gone, this tradition will continue; there is comfort in that thought.
And finally, I was struck by Moses himself. At the very end of the portion, G-d takes Moses to Mount Nebo and shows him all of Israel.
ויאמר ה' אליו זאת הארץ אשר נשבעתי לאברהם ליצחק וליעקב לאמר לזרעך אתננה הראיתיך בעיניך ושמה לא תעבר
And G-d said to him, This is the land which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob, saying, I will give it to your offspring. I have let you see it with your own eyes, but you shall not cross over to there.
All Moses wants is to make Aliya, to get to the promised land. He was the greatest prophet to ever live and for one seemingly small transgression he is given this huge punishment. I know there are many reasons, explanations, midrashim etc. of why Moses was not allowed into Eretz Yisrael. Whatever the explanation, it's one of those things I just can't make sense of--the punishment is just so much greater than the crime. And so every year when I hear this, I shed a tear for Moses for not being allowed to fulfill the one thing he always dreamed of; and am reminded of how priviledged I am because I was.
*(source: Artscroll Tanach, Stone edition)
The Stuff That Lasts, Part Deux
5 months ago