Letter and Spirit

For the week ending 22 September 2018 / 13 Tishri 5779

Parshat Ha'azinu

by Rabbi Yosef Hershman
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On Eagle’s Wings

The song of Ha’azinu contains a terse poetic description of Jewish history from the time nations were differentiated at the dawn of civilization through the end of days. The description of our exodus from Egypt is described as G-d awakening us as an eagle stirs its nest, and then carrying us aloft, on His wings.

The imagery describes not only G-d’s special care for his chosen people, but also the leap that was required of us to become that chosen people. The eagle first stirs his nest, then hovers over its young, and then spreads outs its wings, taking it, carrying it aloft upon its pinions. (Devarim 32:11) The eagle does not take his young in a sleeping or passive state. Rather, he rouses his nest and then spreads his wings above his young. They then energetically fly up to alight on the outspread wings. By free, conscious and brave decision, they fly up out of the nest and entrust themselves to him. So too, did the G-d awaken us, so that we would, by free, conscious, and brave decision, entrust ourselves to Him.

That young eagle has the courage to leave the security of the warm nest and entrust himself to the father’s wing for the flight to the isolating heights. The Jewish People needed the courage of this eagle. Other nations felt secure only if their dwelling place was secure, hewn in the firm stone of human power, ingenuity, and prosperity. That edifice of security all too often became a goddess of security, as man then idolizes power and prosperity. But Israel was called upon to separate itself from that nest in which the other nations take refuge, and to entrust itself to the wings of G-d; the wings that would enable it to soar to the heights of man’s moral and spiritual calling.

  • Sources: Commentary, Devarim 32:11

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