Deuteronomy 33:1-34:12: The Death of Moses

The first Torah reading for Simchat Torah

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There are at least two readings that take place on Simchat Torah.  The first reading is taken from the very end of the Torah.  In this portion. Known in Hebrew as “Ve-zot Ha-berachah,”  “this is the blessing,” Moses offers  a blessing to the tribes of Israel.  After this he prepares for his death.  The portion concludes with the people mourning the death of Moses, and short eulogy stressing the uniqueness of Moses as a prophet.

This English translation is reprinted with permission from Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures published by the Jewish Publication Society.

33:1.         This is the blessing with which Moses, the man of God, bade the Israelites farewell before he died.

33:2.         He said:

The LORD came from Sinai;

He shone upon them from Seir;

He appeared from Mount Paran,

And approached from Ribeboth-kodesh,

Lightning flashing at them from His right."

33:3.         Lover, indeed, of the people,

Their hallowed are all in Your hand.

They followed in Your steps,

Accepting Your pronouncements,

33:4.         When Moses charged us with the Teaching

 As the heritage of the congregation of Jacob.

33:5.         Then He became King in Jeshurun,

When the heads of the people assembled,

The tribes of Israel together.

33:6.         May Reuben live and not die,

Though few be his numbers.

33:7.         And this he said of Judah:

Hear, O LORD the voice of Judah

And restore him to his people.

Though his own hands strive for him;

Help him against his foes.

33:8.         And of Levi he said:

Let Your Thummim and Urim

Be with Your faithful one,

Whom You tested at Massah,

Challenged at the waters of Meribah;

33:9.         Who said of his father and mother,

"I consider them not."

His brothers he disregarded,

Ignored his own children.

Your precepts alone they observed,

And kept Your covenant.

33:10.     They shall teach Your norms to Jacob

And Your instructions to Israel.

They shall offer You incense to savor   

And whole-offerings on Your altar.

33:11.     Bless, O LORD, his substance,

And favor his undertakings.

Smite the loins of his foes;

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