I thank the trustees for giving me the honour of Chatan Torah, the several people who have enabled the process, especially the technical team. Endings, beginnings, cycles. These are the dominant themes of this time of the Jewish year, and especially at Simchat Torah.

In bereshit, which means at the heads or sources, as of upwellings, or springs that combined together into a mountain stream. In bereshit we have the most primal of all beginnings. And you will hear more from Thea on this.

In V’Zot HaBeracha, and this is the blessing, we have an ending, albeit not quite as final as bereshit is primal. To coin a phrase, it is not the end nor even the beginning of the end, but it is perhaps the end of the beginning. Our minhag is to read only the seventh and last aliya of V’Zot HaBeracha, which corresponds to chapter 34, in Archbishop Langton's scheme, his chapter 33 covers the first six aliyot whose subject is the blessing of the title.

This passage is a nice parallel to bereshit. Bereshit progresses through the seven days of creation, corresponding to the seven wandering heavenly bodies. Also memorialised in the seven branches of the menorah. The first six aliyot of V’Zot HaBeracha progresses through Moshe blessing each of the 12 tribes of Israel, corresponding to the Zodiac.

The last aliyah is more of a postscript to the Torah. It is like that moment at the end of a film just before the credits were text rolls across the screen tying up the loose ends, stating what happens to the main characters afterwards. What happens to Moshe is that he dies, the eternal having helped him to take stock of his achievement in bringing the B'nei Yisrael to Canaan.

Whatever our tradition says or does not say about death, the parasha makes it very clear that this is the end of Moshe's presence among the people. He is not even accessible through pilgrimage to his tomb as no one knows his burial place to this day.

Die is the appropriate word here, rather than a watered down euphemism such as passed on or passed over, which have a connotation of continuation somewhere else, and have the possibility of passing back or at the very least communication from the other side.

All the communication has already happened and is contained in the five volumes this passage concludes. Some might suggest that the inaccessibility of Moshe is convenient for those who need the pilgrim trade to come to your Yerushalayim. Even if that is the original reason for the inclusion of the verse it still contains a valuable lesson for us. The end of an individual's involvement, even if someone of whom it is written, never again did there arise in Israel, a prophet like Moshe is not the end of the community.

This is taken further in a previous verse. Now Yehoshua Ben Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom. Because Moshe had laid his hands upon him and the B'nei Yisrael heeded him doing as the eternal had commanded Moshe. Moshe had the wisdom and foresight to arrange for succession, and then to be in a position not to interfere with his successor.

Those of us a certain age on the point of retirement should heed this. Younger colleagues, some of whom one even taught as undergraduates have taken what they need from us old fogies, and are now ploughing their own furrow. Adapting the principles and techniques that they learned from us and applying them in new ways to new situations. It might not be the way we would do it, if given the challenge now with our understanding rooted in the world of our youth, but that does not mean that even though our tombs may be accessible, our influence as that of Moshe does not live on.

May we have the strength and wisdom to be like Moshe, and recognise that when we should hand over our tasks to our successors, and when we do take stock, maybe with the same sense of a life fulfilled. Chag Sameach, Shabbat Shalom.