V’zot HaBrachah (Deut. 33:1-34:12)


It’s the end of the Torah as we know it!

While this portion is actually read, not on Shabbat but on Simchat Torah (which arrives on Sunday October 11 this year), we thought it would be a shame to leave it out of our little potluck food cycle.

Joel Grishaver (http://md.torahaura.com/gris/ ) has a story about “the big blessing”, where he talks about how the oldest (Ishmael, Esau, all Joseph’s brothers) don’t get it, and the babies (Isaac, Jacob, Manasseh/Ephraim) do.

But in my mind, this week’s portion is THE big blessing. The blessing of all blessings. The big kahuna. Moses blesses each of the 12 tribes, using language similar to that used by Jacob. Then, with little fanfare Moses goes up Mt. Nebo and dies – “Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died; his eyes were undimmed and his vigor unabated.”

So, limited only by your creativity and the category of food assigned, please bring something which represents one of the tribes of Israel.

To help you in your creative process, here is what the parasha says about each tribe:

6 May Reuben live and not die,
Though few be his numbers.
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.
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;
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.
10 They shall teach Your laws to Jacob
And Your instructions to Israel.
They shall offer You incense to savor
And whole-offerings on Your altar.
11 Bless, O Lord, his substance,
And favor his undertakings.
Smite the loins of his foes;
Let his enemies rise no more.
12 Of Benjamin he said:
Beloved of the Lord,
He rests securely beside Him;
Ever does He protect him,
As he rests between His shoulders.
13 And of Joseph he said:
Blessed of the Lord be his land
With the bounty of dew from heaven,
And of the deep that couches below;
14 With the bounteous yield of the sun,
And the bounteous crop of the moons;
15 With the best from the ancient mountains,
And the bounty of hills immemorial;
16 With the bounty of earth and its fullness,
And the favor of the Presence in the Bush.
May these rest on the head of Joseph,
On the crown of the elect of his brothers.
17 Like a firstling bull in his majesty,
He has horns like the horns of the wild-ox;
With them he gores the peoples,
The ends of the earth one and all.
These are the myriads of Ephraim,
Those are the thousands of Manasseh.
18 And of Zebulun he said:
Rejoice, O Zebulun, on your journeys,
And Issachar, in your tents.
19 They invite their kin to the mountain,
Where they offer sacrifices of success.
For they draw from the riches of the sea
And the hidden hoards of the sand.
20 And of Gad he said:
Blessed be He who enlarges Gad!
Poised is he like a lion
To tear off arm and scalp.
21 He chose for himself the best,
For there is the portion of the revered chieftain,
Where the heads of the people come.