Torah Weekly

For the week ending 22 September 2018 / 13 Tishri 5779

Parshat Ha'azinu

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair - www.seasonsofthemoon.com
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Overview

Almost all of Ha'azinu is a song, written in the Torah in two parallel columns. Moshe summons the heavens and the earth to stand as eternal witnesses to what will happen if the Jewish People sin and do not obey the Torah. He reminds the people to examine the history of the world, and note how the Jewish People are rescued from obliteration in each generation - that G-d "pulls the strings" of world events so that Bnei Yisrael can fulfill their destiny as His messengers in the world. G-d's kindness is such that Israel should be eternally grateful, not just for sustaining them in the wilderness, but for bringing them to a land of amazing abundance, and for defeating their enemies. But, this physical bounty leads the people to become self-satisfied and over-indulged. Physical pleasures corrupt the morals of the people. They worship empty idols and powerless gods, and indulge in all kinds of depravity. G-d will then let nations with no moral worth subjugate Israel and scatter them across the world. However, their only purpose is as a rod to chastise the Jewish People. When these nations think that it is through their own power that they have dominated Israel, G-d will remind them that they are no more that a tool to do His will. The purpose of the Jewish People is fundamental - that man should know his Creator. Neither exile nor suffering can sever the bond between G-d and His people, and, eventually, in the final redemption, this closeness will be restored. G-d will then turn His anger against the enemies of Israel, as though they were His enemies, showing no mercy to the tormentors of His people. G-d then gives His last commandment to Moshe: That he should ascend Mount Nevo and be gathered there to his people.

Insights

Gardening, Jewish Style

“May my teaching drop like rain, may my utterance flow like the dew” (32:1)

A violent storm. Winds howling. The rain lashes the ground. It seems as though the earth is being torn apart by the weather. And yet without this heavy downpour nothing will grow properly. For if only the dew waters the ground, the heat of the sun will burn and shrivel the seeds.

Only if heavy rains water the ground will the dew do its job of bringing forth the flowering blossoms.

This is the way of Torah. If a person labors in the halacha, filling himself with the methodology and torrent of Talmudic logic, even though it may seem that he is struggling against a deluge, he will eventually bring forth strong and beautiful flowers.

He may feel storm-driven and pounded by the rains. Nevertheless, the fruits of his labors will also include the esoteric parts of Torah, the “dew” of Aggadita (homiletic, ethical teachings from our Sages). They will flower in his hands.

However, if he only concerns himself with the “dew” of the Torah, the Aggadita, then in the withering “sun,” the bright lights of secular cynicism, his Torah will wither and die, lacking the deep rain to nourish its roots.

  • Sources: based on the Netziv as explained by Rabbi Pinchas Kantrovitz

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