The End of the Torah

By Shalom Olensky


This week in the Torah:

The Torah concludes with the passing of Moses, praising him with all he did for Israel “before their eyes.”


The words, “before their eyes,” (the last words of the Torah) refer to Moses’ breaking the Tablets before the eyes of the people. Indeed G-d thanked Moses for this.


According to the above interpretation, the Torah seems to be concluding with something that is in essence a negative part of Moses’ and the Jewish people’s history. Why end with such a thing?


Elsewhere, Rashi explains this episode (the breaking of the Tablets) with an analogy: A king once was wary of his wife’s conduct. An advisor to the king tore up the marriage contract, so that when the king came to accuse his wife for suspicion of her being unfaithful, the advisor said, “But you are not married.” Later, the king realized that it was the maidservants who had led him to be suspicious of his wife. The “king” is G-d, the queen is the People of Israel. The maidservants are the Egyptians who mixed with the Jews in leaving Egypt (and with their witchcraft the Golden Calf was made), the marriage contract is the Tablets, and the royal advisor is Moses.


Hence, the Torah is concluding with a very positive matter; the great love Moses had for even the sinners among the Jews, so that he chose to break what must have been such a sacred and precious object to him (the Tablets) in order to restore harmony between the Jews and G-d.


While this is a positive theme, why end the Torah with it? The Torah is a book of G-d’s wisdom and will, a doctrine of G-d’s laws, and the conclusion thereof should be a reflection of the Torah’s own character. Why, then, does it conclude with praise of Moses and (his love for) the Jews?


Both the Torah and the Jews’ souls preceded everything else in creation. More specifically, the souls of the Jews preceded even the Torah, for the Torah is mainly G-d’s instructions to the Jews. Hence to conclude the Torah with praise of the Jews is truly apropos.

(Based on Likkutei Sichos Vol. 34, V’zos Habrachah)


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