"This is the blessing that Moses the man of God pronounced on the Israelites before his death." —Deuteronomy 33:1
The Torah portion for this week is V’Zot HaBerachah, which means “this is the blessing,” from Deuteronomy 33:1–34:12, and the Haftorah from Joshua 1:1–18.
What are my blessings?
This is the question that we need to answer for ourselves as we read the opening verse of the last portion in the Torah – the conclusion of the five books of Moses.
This week we read the final portion called V’Zot HaBerachah, which means “this is the blessing,” as in “This is the blessing that Moses the man of God pronounced on the Israelites before his death.” This reading not only marks the end of the Torah, but also the end of Moses’ life. How does he spend his final moments on earth? By blessing each tribe of Israel!
The Jewish sages note the fact that the verse speaks in such definitive terms: “This is the blessing.” In contrast, when Jacob was on his deathbed and gave blessings to the tribes, he simply told them to listen and then he proceeded to bless them. The sages also suggest that the verse could have simply said “and Moses blessed the children of Israel.” The fact that the verse says — and the portion is called – “This is the blessing,” leads the sages to conclude that the blessings proclaimed by Moses are specifically revealed and obvious. A person can point to these verses and say “this is the blessing.” Each tribe received a unique blessing that would be noticeably present at all times and help each tribe fulfill their mission.
Jewish tradition teaches that just as every tribe had a specific role to play, each of us has a personal mission. Just as every tribe had blessings to help them, so, too, we are given the gifts we need to fulfill our purpose.
I once heard the following advice for discovering one’s mission in life: Imagine that you find yourself standing in an open lot. You have no idea how you got there or why you are there. Then you notice a bag next to your feet with your name on it. You open it up and find blueprints, a hard hat, and tools. Not far from you is a heap of building supplies. You conclude that you are a builder and you are there to build a building.
Discovering our personal God-given mission works the same way. Look at the blessings that you have been given. What can you point to and say definitively, “This is my blessing”? Are you great with people? Are you a talented writer? Have you been given a beautiful voice? Has God blessed you with an abundance of time, wealth, or patience?
This is your blessing!