Why is the Torah finished on Simchat Torah?

From Rabbi Eliezer Kwass, the master teacher from Yeshivat Darchei Noam in Yerusahalayim (aka Shapells).

The Shem Mishmuel on Vezot Habrakha

Hagaon Rav Shmuel Bornstein on Parshat Vezot Habrakha
(from Shem Mishmuel Vezot Habrakha 5672 “B’Rashi)

Why Do We Finish the Torah on Simchat Torah?

Why was the yearly Torah reading schedule set up to finish on Simchat Torah? Surely right before Rosh Hashana would have been a more appropriate finishing time. The Shem Mishmuel offers an explanation through his comments on a Rashi at the beginning of Vezot Habrakha.

When the Torah says that Moshe blessed the Children of Israel before his death, Rashi comments, “If not now, when?” This implies that if Moshe could have delayed giving the blessings any more, he would have. Why?

For a blessing to take effect, teaches the Shem Mishmuel, it is essential that the recipient of the blessing be properly prepared, that he be a “kli kibul,” a vessel ready to receive blessing. [The last Mishna in Shas ends, “G-d found no better blessing holding vessel for Israel than peace, as it says, ‘Hashem gives power to His nation, Hashem blesses His nation with peace.'” This might be why at the opening of Moshe’s blessings he says, “B’hitasef rashei am,” referring to the gathering together of Klal Yisrael.]

Moshe wanted Israel to receive the greatest possible blessings, so, because he saw that they were in a period of spiritual growth (see Devarim 29:3) he wanted to wait for them to reach their maximum level. He, like an investor waiting for his stocks to reach their highest price before selling, delayed giving the blessing as much as he could. When he knew he would soon die, he had no choice – “If not now, when?”

Moshe’s blessings were not a one-time event, says the Shem Mishmuel, but are an eternal yearly one. Each year as we read Parshat Vezot Haberakha, it is as if Moshe is giving every one of us a berakha. We must all therefore make sure we are proper vessels ready to receive the Divine blessings Moshe is channeling towards us.

Therefore our Sages set up the Torah reading schedule so t

hat when Moshe’s blessings come around we are naturally at our highest point. After having repented during the days of Teshuva, receiving atonement on Yom Kippur, and serving Hashem with joy during Sukkot we are ready to receive them. On Simchat Torah we are a fitting vessel to hold Moshe’s blessings.

May we merit receiving all the Torah’s blessings.

[prepared by Eliezer Kwass]