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Torah Talk for educators and parents

V'zot Habrachah
"The Strength to Carry On"
Shabbat/Shemini Atzeret-Simchat Torah, October 21-22, 2000 - 22-23 Tishrei 5761

Are you facing difficult choices in life?
Looking for something or someone to guide you?
Think about the words, "Chazak, Chazak..."
as we close this reading of the Torah
with Vezot Ha-berachah.
You just might find what you're looking for.

zipple.com presents a Torah portion write-up written for parents and teachers from the author of "The Really Fun Family Haggadah."

Special to zipple.com

In the last portion of the entire Torah, V'zot Habracha (translation: "And this is the blessing"), Moses climbs to the top of Mount Nebo. G-d does not allow Moses to enter the Promised Land like the rest of the Israelites, but he is offered a view of it from atop Mount Nebo, where he soon dies. And so ends the Torah. It's not an exciting ending, like in some movies, but there is a sort of challenge issued to the Israelites, in that they will have to carry on without their great leader, Moses.

At the completion of each of the five books of the Torah, we say "Chazak, Chazak" The words are translated as "Be strong, be strong." They urge us to have the strength to carry out the teachings of the Torah book just completed.

Sure, we say these words at the end of each of the five books; but at this time of the year, the end of the entire Torah, the words may have even greater significance. Moses, our great leader, the man who received the words of G-d, has just died, and we will have to carry on without him. We won't have Moses to guide us anymore and we won't have direct contact with G-d -- that's over. The closest we will get to G-d's voice is the Torah, G-d's teachings, which Moses told us is our guide to a happy life.

Every day, we are faced with choices -- some good, some bad -- each with consequence. We're bombarded with opportunities to make bad choices, especially children, who constantly face new challenges in their lives -- whether it's walking home alone from school, going to parties, or leaving home for college. Without their parents to always guide them, children need a lot strength to resist the temptation of bad choices and make the right choices on their own.

This year, when we say "Chazak, Chazak" at the close of Deuteronomy, the end of the Torah, let's really feel the measure of those words. Let's become more determined than ever to study Torah, carry out G-d's teachings and have the strength to make the right choices. That's a lot of responsibility and it will take a lot of strength -- I guess that's why we say it twice -- "Chazak, Chazak." Shabbat Shalom.

Try these discussion starters at the Shabbat table or at school:
When recently faced with a difficult choice, did you resist negative influences and do the right thing?
How could that choice relate to the Torah? Can the Torah really be a guide for today's living?

Larry Stein is the author of The Really Fun Family Haggadah, which can be ordered at www.ruachbooks.com. Email Larry at larry@ruachbooks.com.

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