Unless otherwise noted, "This week's Parsha" comprises articles taken from contributors to the Chabad.org website. We show the original author's name here, so that proper attribution is given. For the sake of brevity, footnotes cited in the original author's writings are omitted from this website. If you need to see the citations, please refer to the original articles on the Chabad.org website.
Moses did not fade. That is the accolade the Torah gives him at the end of his long and eventful life:
Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were undimmed and his natural force unabated.
Somehow Moses defied the law of entropy that states that all systems lose energy over time. So do people, especially leaders. The kind of leadership Moses undertook -- adaptive, getting people to change, persuading them to cease to think and feel like slaves and instead embrace the responsibilities of freedom -- is stressful and exhausting. There were times when Moses came close to burnout and despair. What then was the secret of the undiminished energy of his last years?
The Torah suggests the answer in the very words in which it describes the phenomenon. I used to think that “his eyes were undimmed” and “his natural force unabated” were simply two descriptions, until it dawned on me that the first was an explanation of the second. Why was his energy unabated? Because his eyes were undimmed. He never lost the vision and high ideals of his youth. He was as passionate at the end as he was at the beginning. His commitment to justice, compassion, liberty and responsibility was unyielding, despite the many disappointments of his forty years as a leader.
The Blessings on the Torah
Moses begins the song of Ha'azinu with the words: "When I call out the name of G‑d, ascribe greatness to our G‑d." The Talmud says that this verse teaches us that one must recite a blessing before studying Torah. Thus the meaning of the verse is: Before one studies Torah -- thus "calling out the name of G‑d," since the entire Torah is considered to be names of G‑d -- one should "ascribe greatness to G‑d" by reciting the blessings which acknowledge the greatness of the Torah.
In fact, there are three separate blessings on Torah study which are recited during the morning prayers (they can be found in your prayerbook). In addition to these blessings, there are two blessings to be said when one is called up to the Torah to receive an aliyah. The first blessing is said before the aliyah (it is the same as the third of the morning blessings) and the second blessing is said afterwards.
This article focuses on the three blessings on Torah study that we recite in the morning.
Mediation, bridges and connections are an important part of life. When we do not have them, we often find oppression, aggression, or simply loneliness. Human beings are created to relate to each other and to relate to G‑d, but very often the links are hidden, concealed under blankets of ego, self-interest and materialism.
The double Torah reading this week expresses the theme of “bridges” on several levels.