V’Zot HaBerachah, VeZot Haberakha, or Zos Habrocho (וְזֹאת הַבְּרָכָה — Hebrew for "and this is the blessing," the first words in the parshah) is the 54th and last weekly Torah portion (parshah) in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading and the 11th and last in the book of Deuteronomy. It constitutes Deuteronomy 33:1–34:12. Jews generally read it in September or October on the Simchat Torah festival. Immediately after reading parshah V’Zot HaBerachah, Jews also read the beginning of the Torah, Genesis 1:1–2:3 (the beginning of parshah Bereishit), as the second Torah reading for Simchat Torah. The parshah sets out the farewell blessing of Moses for the 12 Tribes of Israel and then the death of Moses.
The Torah draws to its close with V’zot Habracha, which is the only Parsha in the Torah not read specifically on a Shabbat. Rather, V’zot Habracha is read on Shmini Atzeret / Simchat Torah, when everyone in the synagogue gets called up to the Torah for an aliyah – even young children. The Parsha is repeated until everyone has received an aliyah.
Moshe continues the tradition of Yaakov by blessing the Tribes of Israel before his death. Similar to the blessings bestowed by Yaakov, these blessings are also a combination of the description of each Tribe’s essence, together with a definition of its role within the nation of Israel. The only Tribe that does not receive a blessing is Shimon, because they were central to the mass immorality of worshipping the idol ba’al pe’or. Another explanation is that this Tribe’s population was small and scattered throughout the south of the Land of Israel, and would therefore receive blessings together with the host Tribe, Yehuda, amongst whom they would live. Moshe’s last words to his beloved people are of reassurance that HaShem will more than recompense His people for all of the suffering they will endure. Moshe ascends the mountain and HaShem shows him prophetically all that will happen to Eretz Yisrael in the future, both in tranquillity and in times of oppression. HaShem also shows him all that will happen to the Jewish People until the time of the Resurrection. Moshe dies there by means of the “Divine Kiss.” To this day, no one knows the place of his burial, in order that his grave should not become a shrine for those who wish to make a prophet into a god. Of all the prophets, Moshe was unique in his being able to speak to HaShem whenever he wanted. His centrality and stature are not a product of the Jewish People’s “blind faith,” but are based on events that were witnessed by an entire nation — at the Red Sea, at Mount Sinai and constantly during 40 years of journeying through the desert.
This is V’zot Haberacha, the concluding parsha of the Torah. It is not read on a Shabbat, instead it is read during the first part of the Torah reading on Simchas Torah, when all males thirteen and older get honored with an aliyah during the reading of the last part of the Torah. This is immediately followed by the reading of the beginning of parsha Beraishis at the beginning of the Torah. Thus the annual cycle of reading the Torah begins again.
The first aliyah takes place, like the whole book of Devarim does, with the Jewish people just across the Jordan river from Israel, before entering the land of Israel, after wandering in the desert for 40 years. In this aliyah, Moshe begins a blessing of the Jewish people, blessing them just before he passes away.
The second aliyah contains blessings for the tribes of Levi and Binyamin. Levi is praised for being upright with God in all the matters in the desert. For instance, they did not participate in the Golden Calf, and they alone circumcised their children in the desert. Moshe blessed Levi that they should strike through the loins of those who rise up against them. One time this was fulfilled was in the era of the second temple, when the Hasmonean family (who were descended from Levi) overcame the Greek army.
The third aliyah contains the blessing for the tribes descended from Yosef. Their land shall yield more beautiful produce than any other portion.
The fourth aliyah contains the blessings for the tribes of Zevulun and Yissachar, and Gad. Zevulun and Yissachar are blessed together in one blessing because they were partners: Zevulun would be merchants, and take half of their profits to support Yissachar, whose occupation was to study Torah. Since Zevulun’s support made Yissachar’s Torah study possible, Gad is blessed with strength since their portion is across the Jordan from Israel, where there is more danger from enemies.
The fifth aliyah contains the blessings for the tribes of Dan, Naftali, and Asher. Dan’s blessing is that he be as strong as a lion, since his territory would be at the north of Israel and protect the land. Naftali is blessed so that his portion should satisfy anyone who lives there. Specifically, the fruits were known to be luscious and beautiful. Asher was blessed with bountiful olives for oil, and with beautiful children.
The sixth aliyah contains the conclusion to Moshe’s blessing of the Jewish people just before he is about to pass away. He tells them that there is none like God, and that He is the mightiest above and below. Moshe blesses them that they should live in safety and plenty.
The seventh aliyah is the last aliyah in the Torah. Here, Moshe Rabbeinu climbs up to the top of mount Nevo on a cliff opposite Jericho. God shows Moshe all of the land of Israel. Then Moshe passes away on the seventh of Adar and is buried in an unknown place. He is 120 years old when he passes away, and the Jewish people mourn him for 30 days. The Torah says that no other prophet has arisen like Moshe who knew God face to face.
"Chazak, Chazak, V’Nischazek" – "Be strong, be strong, and be strengthened"