EREV ROSH HASHANAH
Deuteronomy 31:1-3 (3 p'sukim)
Deuteronomy 31:1-3 Tree of Life Version (TLV)
Chazak! Be Courageous!
31 Then Moses went and spoke these words to all Israel. 2 He said to them, “I am 120 years old today. I am no longer able to go out and come in. Adonai has said to me, ‘You are not to cross over this Jordan.’ 3 Adonai your God—He will cross over before you. He will destroy these nations from before you, and you will dispossess them. Joshua will cross over before you, just as Adonai has promised.
31 וַיֵּ֖לֶךְ מֹשֶׁ֑ה וַיְדַבֵּ֛ר אֶת־הַדְּבָרִ֥ים הָאֵ֖לֶּה אֶל־כָּל־יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃
2 וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֲלֵהֶ֗ם בֶּן־מֵאָה֩ וְעֶשְׂרִ֨ים שָׁנָ֤ה אָנֹכִי֙ הַיּ֔וֹם לֹא־אוּכַ֥ל ע֖וֹד לָצֵ֣את וְלָב֑וֹא וַֽיהוָה֙ אָמַ֣ר אֵלַ֔י לֹ֥א תַעֲבֹ֖ר אֶת־הַיַּרְדֵּ֥ן הַזֶּֽה׃
3 יְהוָ֨ה אֱלֹהֶ֜יךָ ה֣וּא׀ עֹבֵ֣ר לְפָנֶ֗יךָ הֽוּא־יַשְׁמִ֞יד אֶת־הַגּוֹיִ֥ם הָאֵ֛לֶּה מִלְּפָנֶ֖יךָ וִֽירִשְׁתָּ֑ם יְהוֹשֻׁ֗עַ ה֚וּא עֹבֵ֣ר לְפָנֶ֔יךָ כַּאֲשֶׁ֖ר דִּבֶּ֥ר יְהוָֽה׃
According to Rashi's commentary:
"Today I am [one-hundred and twenty years old]: [That is to say,] today [is the exact day that] my days and my years have become complete; on this very day [the seventh of Adar] I was born, and on this day I will die. — [Sotah 13b] Another interpretation of “[I can no longer] go or come” is: [I can no longer figuratively go and come, i.e., I can no longer negotiate] in matters of Torah. This teaches us that the channels of transmission and the well-springs of wisdom were closed up from him [i.e., from Moses on that day]. — [Sotah 13b] [That is the order of the early editions and should be preserved. Rashi means that according to the first interpretation, that God did not permit him to go and come before the people, we do not explain the beginning of the verse to mean that Moses’ days were completed, but that God had taken away the authority from Moses. According to the Talmud, which states that Moses’ days were completed, we explain that he could not go and come in matters of Torah, and according to that interpretation, we do not explain that “the Lord said to me” as the meaning for “I can no longer go or come,” but another reason for Moses’ inability to cross the Jordan.]"
We begin a new week, a new Parasha, and a New Year 5779! Happy Rosh Hashanah - L'shanah Tova! Today's pesukim speak of the "continuity of leadership" within the community of Israel. Additionally, it establishes a precedent in how authority is transferred from one leader/generation to the next.
When giving pastoral advice to his disciple, Rav Shaul taught him the following:
1 Timothy 4:12 Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but become an example of the faithful—in speech, in conduct, in love, in faithfulness, and in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to encouragement, and to teaching. 14 Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was given to you through prophecy with the laying on of hands of the elders. 15 Practice these things—be absorbed in them, so that your progress may be clear to all. 16 Give attention to yourself and your teaching. Persevere in these things, for in doing so you will save yourself and those who hear you.
The Hebrew word for this phrase of "laying on of hands" is simply called "S'micha". This is how authority was to be transferred from one leader to the next and ideally the leader will have chosen one of his own disciples who has been proven a worthy successor; "Spirit-Filled, and loyal student of his rabbi.
We first see this mitzvah given about S'micha in...
Numbers 27:18 Adonai said to Moses, “Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the Ruach, and lay your hand on him. 19 You will have him stand before Eleazar the kohen and the entire assembly and commission him before their eyes. 20 Give to him some of your authority so that the whole community of Bnei-Yisrael will obey him. 21 He will stand before Eleazar the kohen, who will pray and obtain judgments for him by Urim and before Adonai. At his mouth, they will go out and at his mouth they will come in, he and all the community of Bnei-Yisrael with him.”
The practice of ordination (i.e. S'micha), laying on of hands has been continued even by the Jewish Shaliachim (Apostles), and it is something we do not take lightly within our Messianic Jewish Movement.