V’Zot Habracha – ‘This is the blessing.’ the last verses of Torah, Moses’ blessing of each tribe, as his time comes to an end. It is not a regular weekly portion for Shabbat, but read only during the gossamer threads of time left after Sukkot, in the transitional moment of Simchat Torah, as we end and right away begin again our cyclical reading of Torah.
this opening line could also be read: ‘This is the blessing.’ The Midrash teaches that the gates of prayer are sometimes closed and sometimes open, but that the gates of repentance are always open. From the awesomeness of the New Year and the spirit of community and repentance on Yom Kippur, to the celebration and gratitude of Sukkot, we conclude this period of holy days with absolute joy – celebrating Torah in our lives. That is the blessing.
I see yet another reading: ‘This is the blessing.’ This moment. At the end and beginning of Torah, at the end of any significant period of time, at the end of any event, at the end of someone’s life – we just want to hold on to it, we don’t want to let go of the joy, the elevation, the soaring emotions. Having just finished Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur with my wonderful community, on a high and exhausted all at the same time, I just want to hang on to that exhilaration, the fullness in my heart. Continuing through the last week, I am filled with emotions of the days: of Sukkot – joyful, Simchat Torah – amazing, Yizkor – contemplative. My mindfulness practice reminds me to notice that desire to hang on, to honor it, and to know that too will pass.
V’zot Habracha – Each liminal moment, each year, each time around again; it is not about what ‘was’, but rather only about ‘this’ – now.
‘This is the blessing’ – It is our blessing that we have these sacred words with which to engage, to look at life, to see life through.
Now back to beginning once again.