October 1, 2017
Rabbi H. Greenberg in #1088, Parsha Thought, Zos HaBracha. B'Reishis


The very last Torah portion begins with Moshe’s final blessing of his people. The Torah introduces this blessing with the words: “This is the blessing that Moshe, the man of G-d, blessed the children of Israel.”

The opening word, “This” implies that there is something unique about this blessing. To understand what is unique, the Midrash furnishes the following comment:

Rabbi Shmuel ben Nachman said:

“When Moshe was about to bless Israel, the Torah and the Holy One, blessed is He [also] arrived to bless Israel.”

The Midrash proceeds to show how, in addition to Moshe’s role in the blessing, G-d and the Torah also participated:

“This is the blessing – This is a reference to Torah as it says,” This is the Torah that Moshe placed before the children of Israel.”

“That Moshe blessed – This refers to Moshe.”

“The man [ish] of G-d – This is a reference to the Holy One, blessed is He, as it says, ‘G-d is Master [Ish] of war.’”

The Midrash then asks a rhetorical question, “Why all this?” Why was it necessary for Moshe’s blessing to be augmented by G-d and the Torah?

The Midrash replies:

“To fulfill that which is stated, ‘a three-ply cord is not easily severed!’”

The Midrash seems to be suggesting that Moshe’s final blessing was unique because it was not just a one-sided blessing but it consisted of three different strands spun together to form a strong rope that cannot easily be unraveled.

We must try to understand what is the significance of these three aspects of the blessing: Moshe, G-d and Torah.

We also need clarification as to the order of the three sources of blessing enumerated in this verse, according to the Midrash’s commentary, which is: Torah, Moshe and G-d. Why is Torah first, Moshe second and G-d third? One would have thought that G-d would come before Torah and Moshe.


In truth, all blessings come from G-d. That is a given. However blessings that come from G-d can be obstructed from our view because of our inability to contain them. Chassidus explains that on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur G-d allocates all of the good things we ask for, but yet we have to pray for them every day. The reason for this is that while G-d has allocated the blessing, it may get stuck in the pipeline. To ensure that the blessings descend “downward” and enters our realm, there is a need for our efforts, particularly prayer.

However, even if a blessing materializes in our physical world, we may still not benefit from it because we have no vessel or capability of receiving it. A blessing has been compared to rain which descends on a field that has not been cultivated. While the rain is the greatest blessing for the earth, it can go to waste if we haven’t plowed and planted the field.

To guarantee that Moshe’s final blessing will be effective, three conditions were needed:


First, it must come down to us through Torah.

Chassidus explains that when a blessing is obtained through prayer, it may not materialize in the most optimum and efficient fashion. Proof of this is the Talmudic story of Choni Hama’agel, who drew a circle around himself and stated he would not leave until G-d would bring rain to the drought stricken land. For three days he prayed and finally the rain came down in droplets. When he “complained” to G-d that rain droplets would not benefit anyone, it came down in torrents. When he argued about the destructive nature of torrential rain, the rain finally descended in the proper measure.

From this we see that even the powerful and persistent prayer of a saintly man, such as Choni, did not yield immediate results. And even when it finally began to work it needed to be tweaked by additional prayers.

Torah, conversely, has the capacity to make the Divine blessings materialize quickly and efficiently. The Zohar relates that when there was a drought in Israel, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, the author of the Zohar, “merely” delivered a Torah discourse on the words “How goodly it is for brothers to dwell together,” and the rain descended adequately. Through the medium of Torah, the blessings were able to “sail” through all the worlds and successfully produce unimpeded and unambiguous positive results.


Why is Torah capable of doing that which prayer cannot accomplish?

One explanation is that when G-d created the world He screened His own light. For us mortals who live in a world of darkness, particularly in the period of exile, even prayer has its limits. Even our souls which are a part of G-d go through a screening process so that they can “fit” into our physical bodies. Therefore, our best and most fervent prayers that stem from the depths of our souls may not be able to channel the blessings into our lives without tremendous exertion.

Conversely, Torah, as Divine wisdom, did not undergo a fundamental change as it is transmitted to us. The Torah that we study is unmitigated and unadulterated G-dly wisdom. Therefore, when a blessing is connected to Torah, it has no impediments along the way.

This explains why it is customary for a chassan-groom to get called up to the Torah on the Shabbos before his wedding. Since Torah is the source of unobstructed energy, any blessing that travels with it is likewise unhindered and provides the ultimate blessing for the newlyweds.


Another characteristic of Torah is that it is the source of peace. The Talmud states that Torah was given to bring peace to the world. Our Sages teach us that there is no greater vessel for blessing than peace. Thus, the Torah of peace is the ultimate vehicle and vessel to make us receptive to the Divine blessings.

This explains why the first aspect of the blessing is Torah, because it represents the most ideal source of blessing.


After alluding to the Torah as the medium of Divine blessing, the Torah then lists the second component of the ideal blessing: A blessing that comes from Moshe.

While it is true that blessings that come from and through Torah are more efficiently channeled to and absorbed by us, it makes a difference who bestows the blessing.

The Talmud states that no one should underestimate the blessing of even a simple person. How much more so a blessing from the greatest person that ever lived: Moshe.

Moreover, if the Torah is the greatest source of blessing, who better than Moshe, who personified Torah, can bless us? Indeed, in this parsha, the very last one of the entire Torah, Moshe is identified with Torah, as it says, “Torah was commanded to us by Moshe as an inheritance to the Assembly of Yaakov.” Torah and Moshe were inseparable. So if the ideal blessing is through Torah, who can channel Torah’s blessings better than Moshe?


Moreover, the Talmud states that Moshe was blessed with a “good eye;” eager to share whatever he had with the Jewish people. Moshe was the ultimate “lover of Israel” and was willing to give up everything, even his connection to Torah, for Israel.

Indeed, his desire to sacrifice all that was precious to him is expressed in the very last verse of the Torah, in which Moshe is extolled for what he did “in the presence of all Israel.” Rashi comments that it refers to the shattering of the Tablets, which saved the Jewish people from destruction when they worshipped the Golden Calf. His passion for the Jewish people was even greater than his love for Torah.

Hence Moshe’s blessing to the Jewish people was even more formidable than a blessing that comes through the medium of Torah alone, for Moshe was inseparable from Torah and even more inseparable from the Jewish people, the recipients of his blessing.


The Torah then describes Moshe’s third unique characteristic – his relationship with G-d.

Moshe personified Torah and identified totally with the Jewish people to the point of total self-sacrifice for them.

But Moshe was also the most G-dly person to have ever lived. No prophet ever arose like Moshe. Moshe was “on call” to receive G-d’s communication to him 24/7. Maimonides describes Moshe as the most exalted human being. There were no barriers between him and G-d other than he was G-d’s creation. All other barriers simply did not exist.

This threefold connection is expressed by the Zohar in another way: “There are three things that are knotted together, Israel, Torah and the Holy One blessed is He.”

Moshe’s blessing incorporated these three entities and their intertwined unity in the most formidable fashion.

We will see the unfolding of this three stranded blessing with the imminent coming of Moshiach, when all three entities will be fully revealed. G-d’s essence, the Torah’s essence and the essence of the Jewish people and their interconnection will be in full view of the entire world.

Article originally appeared on Beis Moshiach Magazine (
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