1. Deuteronomy: Ve-zo’t Ha-Berakha

“and this is the blessing”…..from Moses to the tribes of Israel.  Moses blessed each tribe then, at the age of 120 years he died and was buried in an unknown place.  And never again did there arise in Israel a prophet like Moses.

That’s the end of the Five books of Moses read each year. Then immediately the beginning of the Torah is read again:  B’reisheit.  All on the most joyous day of the year according to our rabbi.  She says that if more people attended Simchat Torah than attended Yom Kippur, the future of the Jewish people would be guaranteed.

There’s no break between the end and the beginning.  They happen at the same time on the same day.  I’ve been thinking about death a lot lately….not in a morbid way, but more curiously.  Maybe because I’m at my half way point.  I’ve just finished the first half of my life and am now beginning the last half.  Since we are mortal, we don’t even know really what death is.  We see it as an ending, but it could just as likely be a beginning.  Every ending is a beginning and it really is up to us to decide how we’ll approach each turning point.

When a relationship ends, a new kind of life begins.  One that lacks whatever restrictions were inherent in the ended relationship.  My friend is staying at another friend’s house right now.   Her friend’s husband doesn’t allow eating or drinking anywhere in the house except at the dining room table.  And at his breakfast table cereal with milk and fruit is consumed separately from the cup of coffee that follows with the morning paper.  The husband is leaving on an extended trip soon and my friend will be free to eat her croissants in bed and drink her coffee while she eats her cereal if she wants.  Restriction lifted….a new beginning.

Several years ago my company went out of business and our entire staff was laid off in one day.  I took a vacation and began working freelance and met many new people and eventually found an office I wanted to work in permanently (and I use that term very loosely).  A new beginning.

My sister died.  It was horrible and painful and wrong.  I had to learn to make friends.  Now I have friends.  And who knows where Carol Lee is now?  Who knows who she is now?  I often call my daughter by my sister’s name without thinking.  They feel the same to me in many ways.  Maybe my sister found her own new beginning without that sick body that she was bound too.

I think there is really no such thing as an ending pure and simple.  Endings are more complicated than that and they are mixed up with beginnings, so that is why we have to read the ending then the beginning of the Torah together.

I’ve now read the whole Torah and told you all what I’ve thought along the way.  I’m at the end of the reading, and at the beginning of the understanding.  That part will take the rest of my days.  The whole last half of my life.  This is one of my best beginnings so far….

Thanks for taking the ride with me….

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