Parashat Vezot Haberakhah

Hot on the heels of Sukkot comes the final portion of the Torah scroll, before its reprise again at Shemeni Atzeret next week. The name of the portion ‘V’zot HaBrachah’ (and this is the blessing) is taken from the first words of the portion and sets the content for the closing chapters of the book of Deuteronomy. Moshe is about to die and bequeaths his last words. It is is significant on many levels but I will highlight just two.

Firstly at the end of Moshe’s life he is still determined to be a blessing to his people. In fact, we might read the portion in this way ‘And this is the blessing; Moshe dedicated his life to us, led us through good times and bad, gave us the inspired teaching of our G-d and never discarded us right up to the time he died’. In this Moshe sets the pattern for all those in authority over anyone, be it as a parent, teacher, politician or Rabbi/congregational leader. You are there to be a blessing. In particular parents need to be reminded of this vital and important aspect to parenting. So many parents fail to actually BE a blessing for their children that one crushed and broken generation can so easily go on to crush and break the next in an unholy cycle. In short, always be a blessing to those under you, or over whom you have influence, sway or input. That does not mean that such people should always be ‘nice’ or accommodating, acquiescing to every demand (Moshe certainly didn’t do that), but it does mean that every decision taken, every words spoken and act done should be to further a positive, righteous growth in every person.

Secondly, Moshe’s blessings were directed at individuals, or as here tribal proxies. What we learn from this is that blessings need to be directed at individual people if they are to impact a larger group or whole. It means that blessing the larger community will only usually follow through if the smaller individual people are known, accepted, acknowledged and respected. If the parts know spiritual safety and blessing from the leadership, then the sum of the parts will be a healthy community indeed. True community blessing begins with the individuals.