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The Final Chapter — New Beginnings

by: Shmuel ben Shlomi

The last Chapter in Deuteronomy will be the final time the Children of Israel will hear the voice of their beloved leader Moses. He will take this opportunity to pass on, in much the same way Jacob did on his death-bed, a berakhah (blessing) to the tribes of Israel now assembled before him. The Ramban (Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon) indicates that each blessing is specific to each tribe and reveals what will become the national responsibility of each tribe once they cross the Jordan into the Land of Promise as they begin the establishment of the Nation of Israel (Eretz Yisrael), which will take several generations to unfold. And, continues to unfold to this very day, which is why the blessing of Moses, when combined with that of Jacob is still very relevant to us in the 21st Century CE. This blessing continues to prove there are no “Lost Tribes of Israel.” HaShem knows who we are and where we are at all times.

I will now touch on an area that may slightly offend the more literalist in our Family. In Chapter 34 verses One through Four of Parshat Vezos HaBerakhah Moses is told to ascend to the top of Mount Nebo and HaShem will allow him to see with his own eyes the entire Land of Promise that the Children of Israel are about to enter under the leadership of Joshua son of Nun. He set his gaze from Gilead to Dan, all of Naphtali into Ephraim and Manasseh, all the territory of Judah right over to the Mediterranean Sea (which today would include Tel Aviv and Jaffa, down to modern day Eilat); the Negev desert and the Plain of Megiddo, down to the city of Jericho, and as far southwest as Zoar.

It must be concluded that except for some kind of Divine intervention this would have been a physical impossibility. The elevation of Mount Nebo at its highest point is only a little over 2000 feet or slightly above 700 meters. To have seen the scope of all the different parts of the Land mentioned is simply not practical or conceivable.

This is not a new conjecture on my part but one that has been faced by our Rabbis and Sages of Blessed Memory for ages.

Many have tried to explain it from different perspectives down through the ages. Rashi (Shlomo Yitzchaki - Solomon ben Isaac - 11th Century CE) probably gave the most widely accepted explanation by stating that what Moses was given was more than just a physical look at the Land, but was shown a prophetic look into the Land itself along with its future prosperities, oppressions, exiles and future returns of the Children of Israel over the course of our long and enduring history.

I am of the opinion that Rashi’s insight is likely accurate and would add that something similar would happen down the road to the prophet Ezekiel during one of those exile periods in Babylon (Ezekiel Chapters 40-48). He was taken up by HaShem by some sort of conveyance, call it a “fiery chariot,” a “wheel within a wheel” or a more modern euphemism, a “UFO” or “UAP” and shown what the future Temple of Y-H-V-H would look like and physically measure out to during the Messianic Age. Both he and Moses were given a prophetic vision that they were also, somehow able to witness with their own physical eyes.

After receiving this glorious view of the Land and receiving a final promise from HaShem — “This is the Land which I swore to Avraham, 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 into it.”

With that final declaration from HaShem Moses died there. In the land of Moab, “by the mouth of HaShem.” What a beautiful way of saying that with Moses’ last breath he received a kiss from HaShem.

Baruch HaShem. May we all leave this physical world with a kiss from our Creator. We began this life with a breath from G-d may we leave it with His eternal kiss.

Until next time when we begin a new chapter of our existence with Bereshit (Genesis) — Shalom!

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