Parashat Vezot Habrachah / Yom Kippur, Yom Kippur and Yeshua the Messiah


This week’s reading portion of Scripture, Parashat Vezot Habrachah meaning “This is the blessing” (Devarim / Deuteronomy 33:1-34:12) occurs at the same time as Yom Kippur (יום כיפור) “Day of Atonement” that is observed on the 10th day of the month of Tishri concluding 10 days of repentance before God that began with Rosh Hashanah.  Sefer Vayikra / Leviticus 16 describe the temple service and sacrificial ceremony the Cohen Hagadol (High Priest) is to perform on this day.  The day is marked by fasting and prayer of the individual that is committed to forgiving the sins of others and to repent of sins that have been committed against God.  In Parashat Vezot Habrachah we read about the death of Moshe (וַיָּמָת שָׁם מֹשֶׁה עֶבֶד-יְהוָֹה בְּאֶרֶץ מוֹאָב עַל-פִּי יְהוָֹה).  The scriptures say “Moshe, the servant of the Lord died in the land of Moab according to the word of the Lord.”  The Phrase עַל-פִּי יְהוָֹה literally means “on / upon / by the mouth of God,” here the words על (on, upon) and פי (mouth) are joined together with a maqqef.  The phrase עַל-פִּי meaning “by, based on, according to” says that Moshe died according to the Lord.  The Aramaic translation in the Targum Onkelos (וּמִית תַּמָּן מֹשֶה עַבְדָא דַייָ בְּאַרְעָא דְמוֹאָב עַל מֵימְרָא דַייָ) says “according to the Memra (Word) of the Lord.”  The Lord God had spoken to Moshe that he was not going to be allowed to enter into the Promised Land because of having sinned at the waters of Meribah.  The death of Moshe is a low point for the Children of Yisrael in the wilderness.  In the midst of the narrative from Parashat Vezot Habrachah (וְזֹאת הַבְּרָכָה), the Children of Yisrael are about to enter into the Promised Land and Moshe dying according to the Word of the Lord, we are reminded, on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year, of our need for repentance and forgiveness of our sins before a Holy God.  As Yom Kippur approaches, in this time of fasting, repenting, and drawing near to the Lord, let’s consider what a great salvation the Lord God Almighty has provided in His Son, Yeshua the Messiah.  Parashat Vezot Habrachah _2011-2012_