Parshas VeZos HaBrachah – Israel – The Heart of Torah

By Avner Friedmann

The Portion of VeZoth HaBrachah, which is the very last Parshah in the Torah, is very unique. Rather than being read on the day of Shabbat as all the other Portions, it is read on the Biblical festival of Simchat Torah and is immediately followed by the beginning portion of Parshat Bereshit. This is to teach us that when it comes to Torah, there is no beginning or end. We learn Torah continuously as a never ending cycle. This is similar to what Sefer Yetzirah states about the Sefirot, “Their end is embedded in their beginning and their beginning in their end”. Let us examine the verses at the beginning and end of the Torah and discover what we can learn from them.

The Torah opens with the words, “In the beginning G-d created the heavens and the earth”. The word Bereshit (In the beginning – בראשית) means for the sake of “Reishit”. In other words, G-d created the world for “Reishit”. Now, there are two things that are called “Reishit” – Torah and Israel. This means that HaShem created the world for the sake of Torah, which is called “The beginning of His way”[1] and for the sake of Israel, who are called “The beginning of His crops”[2]. As the Holy Zohar[3] states, “HaShem created the world for Israel to come and receive His Torah.[4]

Now, the very last word in the Torah is the word “Israel”, as written: “And concerning all the mighty hand and all the great awe-inspiring deeds which Moshe did in the sight of all Israel”[5]. Rashi[6] states that this refers to the two tablets of the Ten Commandments and to all the wondrous miracles and mighty deeds that Hashem performed for the Jewish people in the Wilderness. Through the first and last words of the Torah we see that ultimately, the Torah is all about Israel.

In addition, the Torah begins with the letter Beit (ב) and ends with the letter Lamed (ל). Together they spell “Lev”- (לב) which means “heart”. This teaches us that the Jewish people are at the very heart of the Torah. Just like the heart is central to the body, so is Israel central to HaShem’s creation. Though it is one of the softest organs of the body, the heart is the source of the life of all the organs. Israel is similarly so relative to the other nations. The heart is an organ that must not have any blemish in order to function properly and is vital to the survival of the body. Israel is likewise so relative to the world. About this it says[7]: “You are totally beautiful my beloved, and there is no blemish in you”. The heart takes in the purest and cleanest blood and then distributes strength and vitality to the rest of the body. The same is true of Israel; G-d’s abundance come through them and is distributed to all the nations of the world[8].

In truth, not only are the beginning and end of Torah about Israel, but the rest of the Torah too is focused primarily on the Jewish people. The Torah speaks about the genesis and formation of the nation of Israel and the events until they became a nation with the giving of the Torah – from Avraham, his son Yitzchak, then Yaakov and his twelve sons, followed by the seventy root souls who went down to Egypt, then the birth of the nation of Israel with the 600,000 general Jewish souls who left Egypt and received the Torah at Sinai. In the desert they spent forty years learning Torah – the “handbook”, so to speak, of how to fulfill our purpose in the world. As the Torah concludes, the Jewish people are standing at the borders of the Land of Israel, ready to enter HaShem’s Chosen Land. From all this we see that to properly understand Torah, it must be understood through understanding the centrality of the Jewish people. This is because[9] “Israel is the essence and ultimate purpose of everything.

As stated above, “Their end is embedded in their beginning and their beginning in their end”. This means that ultimately, there is only one reality. Ultimately, “There is nothing beside Him”[10] (אין עוד מלבדו). As such, there is no beginning or end[11]. Being that they  are a part of G-d from above and the heart of creation, the Jewish people were chosen to be a light unto the nations and to reveal HaShem Holiness and Oneness to the world.  May this come about speedily, in our days, with the coming of our righteous Moshiach. Amen

 


[1] Proverbs 8:22.

[2] Jeremiah 2:3.

[3] Vayakhel 200a.

[4] See Rashi on the first verse of the Torah.

[5] 34:12.

[6] 34:12.

[7] The Song of Sons 4:7.

[8] Zohar, parashat Pinchas 221b. See also Be’er Mayim Chaim on Beresheet.

[9] Mima’amakim on Vezot Habracha.

[10] Vaetchanan 4:35.

[11] Bilvavi Mishkan Evne’ Vol. 9.

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