Parshat Ha’azinu 5774: Heaven and Earth — History, Witnesses and Guarantors of Hashem’s Covenant and Mercy with Israel

Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua is being sponsored by Dr. Eliyahu and Shuli Gherman of Ramat Beit Shemesh to comemmorate Eliyahu’s Bar Mitzvah parsha — Ha’azinu. To Mishpochat Gherman, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring (or as the case may be, co-sponsoring) a Parshat HaShevua.

Please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
olehchadash@yahoo. com
skype: mark.burt3


Parshat Ha’azinu 5774: Heaven and Earth — History, Witnesses and Guarantors of Hashem’s Covenant and Mercy with Israel

by Moshe Burt

Parshat Ha’azinu begins with Moshe’s words:

“Ha’azinu HaShemayim V’adabeirah…”

“Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak; and may the earth hear the words of my mouth.” (Artscroll Chumash, Sefer Devarim, Perek 32, posuk 1, pages 1100-1101)

Shem Mishmuel describes Ha’azinu as;

A poem which Moshe Rabbeinu recited to Klal Yisrael… It discusses the uniqueness of Klal Yisrael, their future, how they should conduct themselves, how they will stray, and how Hashem will treat them mercifully. (Shem Mishmuel, Rabbi Shmuel Bornstein, Parsha Ha’azinu, pge 433)

He further indicates that there has been connection, since the Mabul — “the great Flood”, between the original 70 souls of B’nai Yisrael and the 70 primary nations which emerged after the Mabul to where the B’nai Yisrael, were each of the 70 souls to achieve their individual spiritual potential and righteousness, it would impact the rectification of the nations to which each were connected.

Rabbi Artscroll (Artscroll Stone Chumash, Sefer Devarim, Perek 32, p’sukim 7-9) cites S’forno recalling from history that Hashem created the world so that all of the nations would join together in achieving Hashem’s goal of righteousness. But when they failed, He chose B’nai Yisrael as the paradigm of that goal. Hashem gave them a Land where they could serve Him according to Torah’s laws with simcha, success and prosperity. But when the B’nai Yisrael rebelled, forgot and forsook Hashem for other counsel and avodah zora, they deserved destruction. But to avoid Chillul Hashem — desecration of His Name, Hashem, in His mercy, only exiled them in order that they be redeemed in times of Moshiach and the Ge’ula Shlaima.

Tehillim Psalm 81 clearly expresses the point of Hashem’s mercy where B’nai Yisrael rebelled, forgot and strayed from Hashem and Torah (Artscroll Nusach S’fard siddur, page 175):

“I am Hashem, your G’d, who elevated you from the land of Mitzrayim, open wide your mouth and I will fill it. But My people did not heed My voice and Israel did not desire Me. So I let them follow their heart’s fantasies, they follow their own counsels. If only My people would heed Me, if Israel would walk in My ways. In an instant, I would subdue their foes, and against their tormentors turn My hand…. He would feed him with the cream of wheat, and with honey from a rock sate you.”

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, in his sefer, “Growth Through Torah” (pages 466-467) discusses historical perspective in citing Rabbi Mordechai Gifter’s “Torah Perspectives” (pages 103-104):

“The Torah gives us guidelines for the viewing and understanding of history from a true perspective. If one wishes to comprehend an event in history, one cannot look at it in the limited scope of the finite here and now; rather one must understand the event as having a place in the historical continuum. An historical occurrence extends itself beyond the isolation of time and space and reaches towards the past and future to acquire true significance…”

“Secular sources view history in perspectives of their own, predicated on economic, social and, and political principles. By contrast, the Torah directs us to view history as the unfolding of the Divine Plan. History is the metamorphosis of man through the stages of destruction and redemption, continuing toward his final redemption in the days of Moshiach. And all such events, the redemptions and the destructions, are perceived as fundamental testimony to the presence of the Almighty in this world…”

Rav Shimshon Rafael Hirsch z’l, in the Hirsch Chumash (Sefer Devarim, Perek 32, posuk 1, pages 742-743) renders Moshe’s statement “Ha’azinu HaShemayim V’adabeirah…” and comments:

“Incline your ear, O Heaven, I would speak, And let the earth hear the words of my mouth.”

“V’adabeirah — I wish to speak, I have something to say. This is the request addressed to heaven. Moshe is willing to speak only after heaven [perhaps euphemistically meaning Hashem?, although the “h” of heaven is not capitalized — MB] has inclined its ear to listen to his words.”

Ha’azinu: This is appointment of the heaven and earth as witnesses and guarantors of Hashem’s Covenant with Israel and of what will be said regarding Israel’s future.

Ha’azin is to be distinguished from Shema. Ha’azin means to incline one’s ear; the Ma’azin [the one asked to incline — MB] turns to the speaker in order to listen to his words. By contrast, one can hear (L’shmo’ah) without wishing to do so.

Heaven and earth are called upon to represent Hashem’s Covenant, and this representation is carried out primarily by Heaven, and only indirectly by the earth. Heaven is active; the earth is essentially passive, because all of the blessing and curse in the physical development of the earth… results from the cosmic changes that occur outside the earth, and these are included in the concept of HaShemayim [Heaven].

In the service of the purposes of Hashem’s rule, heaven is active, dispensing its gifts, whereas the earth is essentially passive, a receiver.

The Artscroll Chumash (Sefer Devarim, Perek 32, posuk 1, pages 1100) cites Rashi and Ibn Ezra on the posuk:

To testify that he was warning Israel, Moshe wanted witnesses that would outlive his and later generations; otherwise, who could reproach the Jews of the future if they were to deny that they had ever accepted the covenant? Therefore Moshe appointed heaven and earth, which are eternal…. If Israel were to be found guilty of violating the covenant, these witnesses would take the lead in administering theappropriate punishment, for the heaven would withhold its rain and the earth would withhold its produce.

History teaches us that The Land, that Eretz Yisrael lay fallow for the duration of time that the Jews were banished to Galus, but with Hashem’s Mercy, we were not destroyed. And when the Jews returned to Eretz Yisrael in contemporary times, after nearly 2 millenia in Galus the land again flourished — the return testifies to earth’s witness to Moshe’s words. And that the Jewish people still live after their various adversaries have vanished from the scene, and are now returning home to Eretz Yisrael testifies to heaven’s witness, to this author’s citing above, of Shem Mishmuel’s characterization of Hashem’s merciful treatment.

The Ha’azinu poem asks (Sefer Devarim, Perek 32, posuk 30) regarding either Israel’s conquest over an enemy posssesing vastly
superior forces, or Israel’s conquest by her enemies despite her possessing numerically superior forces:

“For how could one pursue a thousand, and two cause a myriad to flee?”

But L’lmod U’Lamed, (L’lmod U’Lamed, Rabbi Mordechai Katz, Parsha Ha’azinu, p. 189-190) notes by this posuk, that:

Moshe reminds B’nai Yisrael how when they find themselves capable of defeating a vastly superior army, it was Hashem Who is responsible for their victory.

L’lmod U’Lamed continues by describing contemporary instances where Hashem protected Israel, in the Six Day War; the paratrooper who parachuted into Yerushalayim and was hit by snipers and emerged uninjured — a bullet lodged in his Tefillin bag, and in the Yom Kippur War when a tank crew recited Tehillim and then confronted what it thought was enemy tanks and it’s cannon jammed when attempting to fire. Turned out that these “enemy tanks” were actually manned by the fellow Jews who had captured them in battle and who were now returning to their base.

How far we have fallen, how much the B’nai Yisrael has rebelled such that it’s military seems incapable, in the Lebanon conflict, in Cast Lead, in sending soldiers against armed terrorists in Flotillas with paint guns, of defeating a lesser foe? In fact, can it be said that Israel lost those conflicts and that the nation is now left in an even more vulnerable position than before with so-called “UN peacekeepers” impinging on Israeli sovereignty and freedom of military action, or that the nations screamed, unjustifiably, that Israel used excessive force on the Flotilla ship after the armed terrorists nearly slaughtered the ill-equipped Chayalim? Can it be said that Hashem on a collective level denied them His favor? Has the national governance not been an evolvement of foresaking Hashem, our roots, our heritage for other counsels and avodah zora?

And do we see the same scenario, the very few intimidating and handcuffing numerically, technologically superior forces, playing out with more onslaughts of rockets from Gaza, sniper and rock-throwing attacks on Jewish motorists in Yehuda and the Shomron, attacks upon Jews in Jerusalem, while the IDF quakes and writes increasingly restricting regulations lest chayalim inadvertently hit Arab civilians — human-shields while in pursuit of rocket launchers and bloody-handed terrorists?? What about the release of over 1,000 terrorists in exchange for one live IDF hostage, or the release of 104 bloody-handed terrorists, under “superpower” prerequisite demands in order to restart piece talks (not a typo) which have as its goal “statehood” for a bogus, non-existent Arab-invented mirage? What about the government of Israel’s total preoccupation with abandoning and handing over Jewish Lands, including Jerusalem, to avowed Arab enemies implaccably bent upon our destruction? Do we see all of this playing out as a result of the complacency and preoccupation of the
masses, each individual, each sector with their own individual and group issues and matzavim while Israel’s governance plots, based on principles of divide and conquer, the eradication of all vestiges Torah and Yiddishkiet from its population?

May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brethren Jonathan Pollard and Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the other MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bim hay v’yameinu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!

Good Shabbos Teshuvah! L’Shana Tova — may all who read this be inscribed and sealed for a healthy, happy and prosperous 5774 and every year thereafter to at least 120!!

Moshe Burt is an Oleh, writer and commentator on news and events in Eretz Yisrael. He is the founder and director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network and lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.