Weekly Reading Insights: 

VeZot HaBracha


From The Masters Of Kabbalah and Chumash (5 Books of Moses)

13th century - "RambaN" - Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman

14th century - "Bachya" - Rabbi Bachya ben Asher

16th century - "Alsheich" - Rabbi Moshe Alshech of Tsfat

17th century - "Shelah" - Rabbi Yeshaiya Horowitz

18th century - "Ohr HaChayim" - Rabbi Chaim Ben Attar


"….and in all the mighty hand" [Deut. 34:12]

This alludes to the division of the Red Sea concerning which it is said, And Israel saw the great hand.

"…and in all the great terror" [ibid]

This is a reference to the Revelation, concerning which it is stated, that His fear may be before you. Moshe mentioned concerning these two events that they were done in sight of all Israel, because he had already referred to all that was done to Pharaoh, and to all his servants, and to all his land. And in the Sifre it is stated: "And in all the mighty hand - this refers to the smiting of the firstborn, about which it is said, for by a mighty hand shall he send them away. And in all the great terror - this alludes to the division of the Red Sea. Another interpretation: And in all the great terror - this is the Giving of the Torah."

And by the way of the Truth, [the mystic teachings of the Kabbalah], the mighty hand is the attribute of justice, similar to the expressions: the hand of the Eternal was upon me; for the hand of the Eternal hath wrought this. Therefore it is said with reference to His judgment, for the hand of the Eternal is gone forth against me. And the great terror is the attribute of mercy, similar to what is written, Him shall you sanctify, and let Him be your fear. The Rabbis in the Sifre meant this when referring to the smiting of the firstborn [which was done by the mighty hand, alluding to the attribute of justice] and the division of the Red Sea [which is alluded to in the phrase and in all the great terror referring to the attribute of mercy], for concerning them it is written, to make Yourself a Glorious Name.

"which Moses 'asah' (wrought)" [ibid]

For he prepared and displayed it in the sight of all the people. It is similar to the expressions: the souls that they 'asu' (made) in Haran; he hastened 'la'asot' (to make) it; la'asot (to make) the Sabbath day. For Moses did not make the mighty hand and the great terror, he merely arranged [that they be displayed by G-d], and for His sake they were wrought in the sight of all Israel.


Rabbeinu Bachya

"And this for Yehudah" [33:7]

A kabbalistic approach: When Moses said the words, "v'zot l'Yehuda," he addressed the emanation malchut, the emanation from which the hereditary dynasty of Yehudah draws its divine input. It is this emanation that gives the kings of Yehudah the power to wage war successfully.

Interestingly, David, a king descended from Yehudah, refers to the same emanation as when he proclaimed in Psalms 27,3: "if war overtakes me, I put my faith in zot," the emanation from which my forefather Yehudah drew his strength. The emanation malchut sometimes referred to as zot is featured repeatedly in the life of David, such as in Psalms 99:4 and 72:1. This is the reason that David was successful in all his many wars.

This is also why he never fails to give thanks to the Lord Who was the source of his success. The whole formula 'Lamnatzeah mizmor l'david' is evidence that David attributed his success to, "The One Who grants victory." Because the kings of Yehudah enjoyed the assistance of the attribute/emanation malchut, it was doubly important for David to acknowledge that ultimately success is rooted in the Primal Cause, in G-d.



"G-d came from Sinai....He brought from his right hand the fire of the Law to them." [Deut. 33:2 - read on Simchat Torah]

The fire of G-d revealing Himself was sublimated into da'at [law, religion], so that people of physical matter, flesh and blood, were able to form G-d's entourage without being burned by His fire.





Ohr HaChayim

"But you yourself will not cross there." (34:4)

Perhaps the reason this is repeated at this point is that G-d wanted to tell Moses that he did not need to enter the gate to heaven by first having set foot in the land of Israel. The Zohar 1:81 says that all the souls ascend to heaven by way of the Land of Israel. Seeing that Moses' soul was being gathered up by G-d personally, and that G-d immediately deposited it in the Celestial Regions, there was no need for his soul to travel via the Land of Israel in order to achieve its objective. The words "and Moses died there" mean that when Moses died his soul ascended to heaven immediately



Ramban - credits
Adapted from the 13th century classic by the illustrious scholar, philosopher and defender of the faith, Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman-known as 'RAMBAN' or 'Nachmanides', a master kabbalist in his own right and a major link in the transmission of Jewish mysticism-based on the excellent annotated English translation, Nachmanides on the Torah, by Rabbi Dr. Charles B. Chavel

Bachya - credits
Selected with permission from the seven-volume English edition of The Torah Commentary of Rabbeinu Bachya, as translated and annotated by Eliyahu Munk. Rabbi Bachya ben Asher [1255-1340] of Saragosa, Spain, was the outstanding pupil of Rabbi Shlomo ben Aderet (the "Rashba"), a main disciple of Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman (the "Ramban"). Several books have been written about the Kabballah-based portions of R. Bachya's commentary.

Alsheich - credits
Adapted from Torat Moshe - the 16th commentary of Rabbi Moshe Alshech, the "Preacher of Zefat" on the Torah, as translated and condensed in the English version of Eliyahu Munk)

Ohr HaChayim - credits
Selected with permission from the five-volume English edition of Ohr HaChaim: the Torah Commentary of Rabbi Chaim Ben Attar, as translated and annotated by Eliyahu Munk.
The holy Rabbi Chayim ben Moses Attar was born in Sale, Western Morocco, on the Atlantic in 1696. His immortal commentary on the Five Books Of Moses, Or Hachayim, was printed in Venice in 1741, while the author was on his way to the Holy Land. He acquired a reputation as a miracle worker, hence his title "the holy," although some apply this title only to his Torah commentary.

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