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וזאת הברכה אשר ברך משה... את בני ישראל לפני מותו

And this is the blessing that Moshe… bestowed upon Bnei Yisrael before his death. (33:1)

The Midrash Tanchuma (Va’eschanan 6) teaches: “Moshe Rabbeinu was (Heavenly) informed, ‘The time for you to leave this world has arrived.’ He said to them, ‘Wait for me until I bless Yisrael. For they have not found contentment from me all my days, because of the rebukes and warnings with which I rebuked them.’” Moshe then proceeded to bless the nation. Chazal are teaching us that Moshe feared that the people would not correctly perceive his admonishments, and, rather than acknowledge his boundless love for them, they would think that he harbored anger and discontent concerning their behavior, and, by…

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יחי ראובן ואל ימת... וזאת ליהודה ויאמר

May Reuven live and not die… and this to Yehudah, and he said. (33:67)

Yehudah’s blessing is juxtaposed upon Reuven, because they had in common their individual confession of guilt to a corrupt act for which they were jointly responsible. Reuven was chastised by his father, Yaakov Avinu, for his impetuosity in moving Yaakov’s bed from Bilhah’s tent. (After Rachel Imeinu, who was Yaakov’s primary wife, died, Yaakov moved his bed into the tent of the concubine, Bilhah. Reuven felt this was an affront to the honor of his mother, Leah Imeinu). Yehudah’s role concerning his inappropriate relationship with Tamar, which almost led to her execution, was the reason for his confession of guilt….

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ויבכו בני ישראל את משה... שלשים יום ויתמו ימי בכי אבל משה. ויהושע בן נון מלא רוח חכמה כי סמך משה את ידו עליו

Bnei Yisrael bewailed Moshe… for thirty days; then the tearful mourning for Moshe ended. Yehoshua ben Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom, because Moshe laid his hands on him. (34:8,9)

Moshe Rabbeinu had no equal. Thus, he left behind no one that had achieved his level of prophecy. Never would there be another Rabbeinu such as Moshe. The grief over his passing was palpable due to the irreparable loss. Even grief over Moshe, however, must come to an end. Yehoshua, Moshe’s able and devoted talmid, disciple, became his successor as the nation’s Rebbe and leader. The Torah was passed to him, as he carried on Moshe’s legacy. Moshe laid his hands on him, giving him semicha, ordaining him to take over. With the laying of hands, a portion of Moshe’s…

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ויהושע בן נון מלא רוח חכמה כי סמך משה את ידיו עליו

Yehoshua bin Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom, because Moshe had laid his hands upon him. (34:9)

Simply, this means that Yehoshua had achieved the pinnacle of distinction, the apex of wisdom, as a result of the spiritual generosity of his quintessential Rebbe, Moshe Rabbeinu. How does one demonstrate his gratitude to such a Rebbe? How does a student pay back a Rebbe who has devoted himself to his utmost care, to developing him and bringing him to such a position of distinction? In Yehoshua’s case, it was almost impossible, since as soon as Moshe transferred the reins of leadership to Yehoshua – Moshe died. How could Yehoshua ever show his gratitude to Moshe? How do we…

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וישכן ישראל בטח בדד

Thus, Yisrael shall dwell secure, solitary. (33:28)

Bilaam harasha, the wicked, whose curses turned into blessing, made a similar statement concerning Klal Yisrael. Hein am levadad yishkon, “Behold! It is a nation that will dwell in solitude” (Bamidbar 23:9). Is there a difference between the two? Apparently, they both underscore the importance of Klal Yisrael living in solitude and not comingling with the nations of the world. Second, why did Moshe Rabbeinu specifically choose the importance of solitude as the blessing that would ensure the growth of Klal Yisrael as a Torah nation? Horav Leizer Brody, Shlita, observes distinctions between Moshe’s blessing and that of Bilaam. Bilaam…

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תורה צוה לנו משה מורשה קהלת יעקב

The Torah that Moshe commanded us is the heritage of the Congregation of Yaakov. (33:4)

The Torah belongs to the Jewish People. It is our inalienable possession, having been transmitted throughout time from generation to generation, heralding back to the Revelation at Sinai and continuing on until the advent of Moshiach Tziddkeinu. How profound is this statement! Yet, it is the first sentence that a father teaches his child as soon as the child is able to speak. The child understands very little at this tender age. Nonetheless, Chazal (Succah 42a) felt it important to convey this message to the child, so that it would become ingrained in his mind via the constant oral repetition….

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ויראהו ד' את כל הארץ

And Hashem showed him the entire Land. (34:1)

The mission of Moshe Rabbeinu on earth was complete. He blessed his nation and prayed for the people, and then, as Hashem’s faithful servant, he ascended the mountain, following Hashem’s directive. Hashem then showed him the entire length and breadth of Eretz Yisrael and the entire panorama of history which was connected to each place that he saw. The history of our people is intricately tied to our Land. Hashem showed Moshe Eretz Yisrael in its ups and downs, from the height of prosperity and good fortune to the oppression and persecution under future rulers. Ramban writes that Hashem was…

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וימת שם משה עבד ד'

So Moshe, servant of Hashem, died there. (34:5)

When the Chafetz Chaim was niftar, passed away, on Elul 24, 1934, Klal Yisrael was thrown into collective mourning. The preeminent tzaddik hador, saint of the generation, his impact was felt throughout the entire Torah world. During the year of mourning, Horav Elchanan Wasserman, zl, primary student of the Chafetz Chaim, had occasion to be in England. He was asked to eulogize his revered Rebbe, to render an appreciation of his unique personality, his saintly spiritual demeanor, his extraordinary achievements on behalf of Klal Yisrael. Rav Elchanan spoke inspiringly about his Rebbe. The following is an excerpt of his hesped,…

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ויתמו ימי בכי אבל משה

Then the days of tearful mourning for Moshe ended. (34:8)

In the beginning of the pasuk, the Torah writes that the period of mourning for Moshe Rabbeinu lasted for thirty days. Why does it conclude with the words, Vayitmu yimei bechi eivel Moshe, “Then the days of tearful mourning for Moshe ended.” Once it stated that the period of mourning lasted for thirty days, it is obvious that, after thirty days, the mourning period had been concluded. The phrase vayitmu, “Then there ended,” appears redundant. The HaKsav v’Hakabalah distinguishes between the words tamim and shalem, both which intimate completion. The word tamim, from which tam/va’yitmu is derived, implies qualitative completion….

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ולכל המורא הגדול אשר עשה משה לעיני כל ישראל

And by all the awesome power that Moshe performed before the eyes of all Yisrael. (34:12)

Times change; people change; society and culture change. Change impacts upon our lives to the point that what had been right for one generation might not be right for the following generation. Mentalities change, and the new generation might have a different perspective, a varied approach to life. Different needs require different approaches. Those who are charged with teaching Torah to each ensuing generation has to adjust, adopt new skills and new methods, because their charges are of a different generation. Horav Nissan Alpert, zl, posits that this is why Moshe Rabbeinu shattered the Luchos, Tablets, right before the very…

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