Finnegan's Wake - and Moshe's!By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz
God supports the entire universe, but He still keeps His “hand” involved below. He will drive Israel’s enemies away with a command that they be destroyed; the Jews will then dwell securely in their fertile land. Happy are they, unique among nations, personally protected by God, Who fights on their behalf. Their enemies will grovel before them and the Jews will smash the altars of the idols.
Moshe then ascended Mount N’vo, across the Jordan from Jericho. God showed him the land of Israel as a consolation prize, since he was not being permitted to enter it. Moshe died and God buried him in a valley in Moab, but no human knows where.
Moshe died when he was 120, but he hadn’t lost his strength or his vision. He was mourned by the Jews for 30 days, after which Yehoshua took the reins of leadership. The Jews followed Yehoshua, but there never was and never will be a prophet of Moshe’s stature, who could talk with God “face to face.” No one could work God’s miracles on the scale that Moshe did in Egypt, or any of the other wonders that he did for the Jews.
The Talmud in Baba Basra 15a records a dispute as to who wrote down the last 8 verses of the Torah, which detail the death and burial of Moshe. One opinion is that Moshe was instructed to write it down right before it happened, while the other maintains that Yehoshua was commanded to complete those verses.
In shul, we continue by immediately returning to the Book of Genesis and starting all over again. (Yes, the book Finnegan’s Wake does the same thing, but we were doing this for millennia before James Joyce was even born!) The story continues in the Book of Joshua, the beginning of which is read as the haftarah for Simchas Torah. (These synopses continue in The OU’s Nach Yomi Companion!)