Present Yourself – Parshat Vezot Haberacha

A popular trivia question in The Diaspora1 is: Which Torah portion in never read on Shabbat.2 The answer, is Vezot Haberacha, this week's parsha and the final parsha in the Torah. Yet, it is important that it is read on the Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah.

Rabbi Joseph Soloveichik, affectionately known as The Rav, explains the appropriateness of reading this portion on this day. He beautifully compares and matches Parshat Vezot Haberacha to a later celebratory ceremony.3 Many years after the completion of the Torah, upon the consecration of the Beit Hamikdash which occurred on this specific day, Shemini Atzeret, King Solomon gave a beracha to the people.4 At the end of this special ceremony, the people then blessed the king as well. There was a mutual connection between Shelomo and the people.4a

This parallels, the Rav continues, Parshat Vezot Haberacha as here, too, we find the people gathering together to receive Moshe's final blessing. The act of gathering together created the opportunity for the mutual blessing.5 Without having presented themselves though, the meeting would never have happened and the blessing would never have occurred. Just by presenting themselves and showing up, the Rav points out, the meeting did happen and the blessing was given. 

Presenting yourself means you're ready for the experience. Important or banal, scary or pleasant - whether it means stepping into the batter's box, getting married, taking that new course or whatever it may be. We need to be present to be a part. Sometimes we need an extra dose of courage to be there. Sometimes we just need to be reminded of where we are going or where we are. By being present, we share that space with God. And then we can share our blessings. We can have an impact

We are presented with many challenges in life. Some are pleasant while others are not.  Some we are prepared for while others we feel less prepared for. Some are planned while others are thrust upon us. Do we hide or do we show up to challenge and growth? Even if we don’t succeed, what is the next step? Do we continue to present ourselves? It may be important to remember that from it all, we can experience and share blessing.

As the holiday season draws to a close, and we return to a daily routine, it is up to us to make that choice. Will we show up? Are we now ready to receive and share our blessing?



  1. Jewish communities outside the land of Israel are known as the diaspora
  2. The diaspora communities have a second day of Shemini Atzeret popularly known as Simchat Torah. Because of the way the Jewish calendar is built, Simchat Torah in the diaspora can never occur on Shabbat. In Israel it is sometimes read on Shabbat.
  3. Har'rei Kedem I:152
  4. Melachim I 8:66
  5. It should be noted that this ceremony is the Haftarah in the Diaspora on Shemini Atzeret
  6. Devarim 33:5

Have A Great Shabbat!laughing

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