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V’zot Habracha is the last parasha of the Torah and the only parasha not read on Shabbat.  It is always read on Simchat Torah, which will be observed this year (in the Diaspora outside of Israel) on Friday, October 21. (In Israel it is observed the previous day, this year on Thursday, October 20.) The parasha contains the verse that is the first one a parent teaches a child: “The Torah that Moshe commanded us is a morasha (heritage) for the kehilla (congregation) of Yaakov (Jacob.)” 

Why does Torah use the Hebrew word morasha for heritage when it could have used the word nachala?  What is the significance of the word kehilla (congregation)?

Rabbi Yisroel Jungreis and Rabbi Osher Anshel Jungreis note that nachala is an inheritance that belongs solely to the heir to use as he sees fit.  By contrast, morasha is a legacy that has been given in trust and cannot be tampered with.  It must be preserved intact and passed from generation to generation.

They write: “It becomes obvious why our Sages chose this to be the first to be engraved upon a child’s heart.  Even as a parent has responsibility to pass on this heritage to his children, so the children should know that one day, they, too, will be charged with the same responsibility: to pass on the same heritage in the same manner in which they received it.”

The Rambam in Hilchot Talmud Torah (3:1) explains that morasha means that Torah belongs to and is accessible to every Jew, regardless of age, background or ability. "Israel was crowned with three crowns: The crown of Torah, the crown of the priesthood, and the crown of royalty. The crown of the priest went to Aharon and his sons… the crown of royalty was won by David…The Crown of Torah stands before all Israel, open and ready, as it states: Torah tziva lanu Moshe morasha kehillat Yaakov – anyone who wishes to take it may come along and take!"  Torah is for the entire kehilla -- young and old, rich and poor, learned and unschooled.

Rav Alex Israel writes: “And maybe this is precisely the reason that we dance together with the Torah on Simchat Torah. We dance in a circle. A circle never ends. Its end is its beginning, and then it starts again. With whom do we dance this unending circle? With other Jews, and with the Torah. This is a simple and concentrated image of our national identity card: morasha and kehilla. On Simchat Torah you know very simply that you are connected in an unending circle with Am Yisrael (the People of Israel) and with the Torah.”

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Tags: Torah, heritage, kehilla, legacy, morasha, parenting

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