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    The last eight verses

    death of mosesThe end of the Torah is sad but proud. It describes Moses’ death and burial.

    From the time of the Talmud (BB 15a) or even earlier, people have asked, “How could Moses possibly describe his own death?”

    One view is that it was not Moses himself but Joshua who added the final verses in order to complete the Torah. Another opinion is that the story was actually written by Moses with tears in his eyes, at God’s dictation.

    The commentator Ibn Ezra criticises the second view as these verses describe Moses going up the mountain to die. Thereafter could he have descended the mountain again to write the story? How could he have said of himself, “There has never risen since in Israel a prophet like Moses”?

    This issue raises the important problem of how much control anyone has over what will happen after they die.

    Most people want to live on in some way, and there seem to be two ways in which this is possible – in our family and friends, and in our deeds.

    In both respects we have to try to leave our affairs in the best possible shape.

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