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Jewish IdentityParshat Hashavua HaAzinu

Parshat Hashavua HaAzinu

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

Parshat Hashavua – Ha’azinu – the weekly Torah portion.

By. Rav Nissim Mordechai Makor

parshat hashavua haazinu rav makor 220x220Introduction to the Song Ha’azinu

The major portion of this sedra is devoted to the poem Ha’azinu. It is instructive to note that this poem or song is different in significant ways from other Songs in the Tanach. There are four other famous Songs, two in the Torah – the Song of The Sea (Exodus 15:1ff) and the Song of the Well (Numbers 21:17ff). There is also the Song of Deborah in the Book of Judges, Ch. 5) and, of course, the Song of Songs of King Solomon. All these Songs are attributed to specific people. The Song of the Sea begins “Then sang Moses and the Children of Israel.” The Song of the Well begins “Then sang Israel.” The Song of Deborah begins “And Deborah and Barak sang.” The Song off Songs begins “The Song of Songs that were Solomon’s.” But Ha’azinu begins without any appellation. It is as if the Song itself sings, as it says (Deut. 31:21) “And it will be when these many evils and vicissitudes befall him then this Song will testify before him as a witness…”
Another difference between Ha’azinu and other Biblical songs is that the other songs are praises of G-d for miracles that He wrought for Israel, ( or a paean of G-d’s love of His people, as in Solomon’s Song). In contrast, Ha’azinu is a look into the future and a pessimistic look at that. It is a not a Song of praise, nor a Song of jubilation, it is rather a Song of warning and chastisement.
In spite of these differences, Ha’azinu is a poem like the other Songs and it has the characteristics of a poem, it speaks in allusions, alliteration and parallelisms. This leaves much room for commentary.

The Ramban on Ha’azinu

The Ramban has these significant words to say about the Ha’azinu Song:
This Song is an assured guarantee of the future redemption, in spite of the nonbelievers. And so is stated in the Sifrei. ‘This Song is great in that it contains the present, the past and the future; it contains issues of this world and of the World to Come. And this is what is alluded to when the Scriptures say ‘And Moses came and he spoke all the words of this Song in the ears of the people. ” It says “all” to intimate that it contains [a prophecy for] all matters regarding their future. And while it (the Song) is small in size, never the less it explains many things. And were this Song one of the writings of the astrologers which predicted future events, it would justifiably command our belief, because all of its predictions have been fulfilled up until the present. Nothing has gone unfulfilled. We therefore should also believe and anticipate, (the future fulfillment of this Song) with all our heart, for these are the words of G-d, as conveyed by His prophet ( Moses) ‘the faithful one of his house.’

Israel, The Thumb

“Ki karov aylecha hadavar me’od be’ficha u’be’levavcha la’asotho.”
“Rather, the matter is very near to you – in your mouth and heart to perform it.” Deuteronomy 30:14
The Zera Baruch writes in the name of the Megaleh Amukoth that the rashei teivoth (first letters) of the phrase “zero’oth reshayim te’shabernah” (the arms of the wicked shall be broken) spells the word zereth which means small (pinky) finger. This small finger symbolizes Esav. The entire world is compared to a hand and Israel its thumb (godel). Just as the thumb is separate and distinct from the other fingers on the hand, so too Israel is unique and set apart from the other four mighty kingdoms (Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome) whose smallest is Esav (Rome) symbolized by the pinky finger.
The seventy nations of the world have heavenly ministers who act as intermediaries between the nations and Hashem; Israel has chosen to be directly attached to Hashem without any intermediary. Therefore, Israel is enjoined to not intermingle with other nations and to remain a nation set apart because she reflects Hashem, who is one and whose name is one. Our verse is instructive for it states, “I will call to Hashem;” the singular tense is used because it refers to only Israel calling out to Hashem directly. The verse continues by stating that a godel (thumb, an allusion to Israel) shall be given to “our G-d.” In this context, Hashem is mentioned as Israel’s G-d to emphasize the imperative upon Israel to rely on Hashem alone.
Just as the thumb is set apart from the other four fingers, so too must the Jewish people set themselves apart from relying upon an intermediary to achieve closeness to Hashem.

Return to HaShem 

“Return, Israel, unto Hashem, your G-d, for you have faltered through your sins”
The Rabbi Divrei Shmuel zs”l found the way to repentance in this verse. A person has done an accounting of his soul and has been found far from perfection. What should he do to appease his Creator, to merit his forgiveness? Should he should promise himself and his Creator that from now on he will be perfect, that he will have the proper intent in his prayers, that he will not waste even a moment from learning Torah? But he knows that he is far from that, and that this is a worthless promise, which he will give up on and not fulfill as in the past!
The answer can be explained in a parable. A poor villager wanted to sell his wares in the big city. He places his bundle on his shoulder and starts to travel. The sun is blazing, the sweat drips, the bundle is heavy and the road is so long. When he thinks too much, he is gripped with despair and turns around to head home. But if were smart, he wouldn’t think about his distant destination. He would say to himself: My goal now to is reach that tree, and to rest in its shade. He will reach the tree, rest a bit, and say: Now, my goal is to get to that rock, and to sit upon it. In this way he will proceed from station to station and eventually reach his destination.
This is the meaning of the verse: “Return, Israel, unto.” Make for yourself goals for improvement that are near: to have proper intent in the first blessing of the amidah, to add another Torah shiur, and so on, from goal to goal, so that you may reach “unto Hashem, your G-d.”
“Return, Israel, unto Hashem, your G-d, for you have faltered through your sins”
To what may this be compared, said the Rabbi Kochav Miyaakov zs”l? To a man who stands before a first-rate lawyer in the capital city. He questions him about the quickest method for seeing the king and receiving a pardon.
The lawyer explains to him: “It is not like that. There is a procedure, a long list of processes. There is the first appearance, and if you are convicted, then you submit an appeal to the regional court, and afterwards to the Supreme Court, and then your request for a pardon is transferred to the Justice Ministry, and then if you merit a recommendation, the request is brought before the king…”
“Aha!” stamped the man with his foot out of impatience. “My case is so serious, that I have no chance of success in my first appearance, nor in the second nor the third. Nor will I receive a recommendation from the Ministry…”
The lawyer shrugged his shoulders: “If so, then I can’t help you. There is no way to skip stages, and it is impossible to appear immediately before the king.”
But here, there is a tremendous kindness. “Return Israel – immediately – unto Hashem, your G-d!” Why? “For you have faltered through your sins,” and all the ministering angels will not agree to acquit you! But there is a way paved before you, straight to the Creator who will grant you a pardon. Repentance is great for it reaches even the Heavenly Throne!
“Return, Israel, unto Hashem, your G-d, for you have faltered through your sins”
Rabbeinu Yonah wrote (Shaarei Teshuvah 2: 2): When a person sins against his friend, and turns his back on him, and then later comes to him when he needs his help to beg forgiveness, he will not be greeted kindly, as Yiftah said: “Why have you come to me now, when you have troubles?” But G-d accepts our repentance with love and desire even if we repent on the day of rebuke, out of troubles, as it says: “Return, Israel, unto Hashem, your G-d, for you have faltered through your sins – I will heal your return, and I will love you as if they were voluntary.”

Praise the Lord

“Kee Shem Hashem Ekra, Havu Godel Lelokeinu” (Devarim 32;3) Give praise to our G-d as I call out the name of Hashem.
The Gemara learns from this verse that one is obligated to recite a blessing before studying Torah (Berachos 21). We must understand why Moshe is first reciting the blessing now, after teaching the Torah to the Jewish people for close to forty years. The purpose of reciting a blessing is to acknowledge that everything comes from Hashem.
Until now, Moshe acted as an intermediary when he taught the Torah. So to speak, Hashem was speaking to the Jewish people through him. Thus, there had been no need to relate Moshe’s Torah to Hashem by making a blessing since it was as if Hashem Himself were speaking. However, now in Parshas Ha’azinu Moshe was speaking for himself. He therefore needed to recite the blessing.
Devarin 32;52 “Kee Minegdo Tir’eh Ess Ha’aretz, V’shama Lo Savo Ell Ha’aretz Asher Asher Ani Nosain L’vnei Yisroel You will view the land from far off, and (to) there you will not come, to the land that I am giving to the Children of Israel.
The Torah has already told us that Hashem is giving the Land of Israel to the Jewish people. Why is it repeated here? The Zohar says that although Moshe was prevented from entering the land at this time, he will ultimately enter Israel during the time of the Final Redemption, when many of the dead will be revived. This is indicated in the verse by linking the ban to a present-tense reference of the land, “the land that I am giving to the Children of Israel.”

Above the Clouds

 “The mind is the most complicated of all human functions. It involves the faculties of thinking, remembering, and reasoning. A person’s intellect encompasses all that he can understand during his life. The brain in the most stunning of all accomplishments that Hashem made in the whole universe.”
Computers can store information in its own cloud drive. Each limited to capacity and storage.  Hashem has given man the gift of unlimited space to store unlimited amounts of information.  The human brain storage is Above the Clouds and can be accessed anytime.  (By Norman D. Levy; Based on Rabbi Miller’s, Duties of the Mind.)

Pearl of Life

The Pearl of Life explain HaRav Yaakov Galinsky who teaches that Teshuvah [repentance] has 3 steps: 1] regret 2] resolving never to sin again and 3] confession. The Alter of Novaradok wrote about the sin of Adam Harishon [the first man] in his work Madreigas Ha’adam. Adam was fashioned by Hashem’s very own hands, and he was created without a evil inclination [yetzer hara]. Adam was wiser that the angels and greater that the Avos [Bava Basra 58a] and a born navi [prophet]. His body was as pure as our neshamos [souls] and his neshama [soul] we could not fatham how pure it was. The Alter explains that Adam was created solely for the sake of Heaven and the glory of Heaven is brought by confronting and overcoming tests [nisyonos].  Adam decided to commit a sin for the sake of Heaven [Nazir 23a]. He would eat of the eitz hadaas [the fruit of knowledge] and internalize the evil inclination and be cast out of Gan Eden into the outside world of struggles and tests, so that he could prevail and bring a sanctification of Hashem’s Name. Adam convinced himself that what he did was the right thing to do. Hashem rebuked Adam and through him from Gan Eden where he became a mortal. Adam regretted his sin and spent 130 years fasting and being separated from his wife. On the other hand, it was so difficult to admit “I sinned!” why, because he knew what it means to sin! He understood that a sinner completely breaks away from everything and has no place in this world and therefore couldn’t live and forgive himself with the feeling that he had sinned.  That is why the Rambam includes in [Hilchos Teshuvah 1:1] the concept of shame when one confesses.  The essential elements of confession are the regret, embarrassment of one’s actions and never to repeat them again. Adam was ready to be cursed for 40 curses, to have to obtain food only after laboring by the “sweat of his brow,” to get the death sentence, as long as he didn’t have to confess, “I sinned!”
Yeshiva Pirchei Shoshanim.
As heard from my Torah Masters
Shabbat Shalom
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