(Continued from here.)
It's the seventh hakafah. I start to get nervous, and know I'm being ridiculous; I have never been in a safer place in all my life. The chaos of spinning and shmoozing begins to re-shape around a bima in the center of the room surrounded by rings of people sitting on the floor, little kids on laps, and teenagers in clumps toward the back, the rest of us jockeying for a small patch of carpet. I usually sit way up front, but today stand off to the side with the friends who will soon hold four poles of a huppah above my head. I want them all to be around me so I can feel their strength, and stop shaking.
The rabbi with the beautiful voice reads Vezot Haberacha, the last section of the Torah. He sings the name of each tribe with such reverence and love that I can picture Moshe standing there invoking the individual blessings, his right hand resting gently on the shoulder of the younger man. I wonder if Benjamin prayed for God to re-think God's plan while he was trying to listen to these final words of wisdom--how could he concentrate, knowing his beloved Moshe would soon be gone from this world?
Now we get to the last few lines and the Hatan Torah, the man receiving the honor of reading the end of the Torah, gathers behind the bima with his family and friends.